Exciting news! I have officially put all of the blog posts on Economics from the Top Down in the Creative Commons. At the bottom of each post, you’ll now see the following icon:
This Creative Commons licence means that the post is officially ‘free culture’. You can do anything you want with it, as long as you attribute the original work to the author (usually me, Blair Fix) and link back to Economics from the Top Down.
So what does this Creative Commons license change? For blog readers, it changes nothing. My posts have always been free, and will continue to be so. Instead, the Creative Commons license makes clear how you can share my writing. The CC BY licence gives you free reign to share and remix my work (even sell it, if you want). So there’s no need to ask permission to repost or translate my writing. You can just do it. The same goes with my charts. You can use them (with attribution) as you see fit.
(Sidenote: if you want to tell me how you’re using my work, I enjoy hearing from you.)
A Creative Commons commitment
While I’m writing about the Creative Commons, let me take the opportunity to make a commitment to myself and my readers. Going forward, everything that I write will be in the Creative Commons.
As I’ve just announced, this blog is in the commons, so that’s done.
Next, I want my peer-reviewed writing to be in the commons. Accomplishing that is a bit trickier. If I had unlimited funds, I would happily pay to publish articles open access. But I do not have such funds, nor (at the moment) any institutional affiliation to gain such funds. That means I’ll have to settle for a two-pronged approach. I’ll first publish behind a pay-wall. Then I’ll put the post-review manuscript on the Open Science Framework where you can access it for free. (This two-pronged approach is now the norm in many disciplines. Physicists, for instance, do much of their reading on the arXiv.)
Last there’s books. As some of you may know, I have already written one book — Rethinking Economic Growth Theory from a Biophysical Perspective. It was published while I was a PhD student. At the time I was just grateful for the opportunity to write a book, so the bigger picture of open access was not on my mind. As a consequence, the book is paywalled. Thankfully, you can read the (virtually identical) manuscript for free here.
Going forward, if and when I publish another book, I’m going to take the route pioneered by sci-fi writer Cory Doctorow. For the last two decades, Doctorow has published the electronic versions of his books in the Creative Commons. Then he lets a publisher charge for the print version. He calls this the ‘dandilion strategy’: let your work spread freely on the internet, like the prolific seeds of a dandelion.
Now that I’ve got my Creative Commons commitment in writing, your job is to hold me to it.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. You can use/share it anyway you want, provided you attribute it to me (Blair Fix) and link to Economics from the Top Down.
very cool Blair!
On Tue, Mar 16, 2021 at 1:57 PM Economics from the Top Down wrote:
> Blair Fix posted: “Exciting news! I have officially put all of the blog > posts on Economics from the Top Down in the Creative Commons. At the bottom > of each post, you’ll now see the following icon: This Creative Commons > licence means that the post is officially ‘free cult” >
Wonderful!!! With this move the world wins and therefore you win. Win win. You did this for those two reasons. To make the world a better place, which will improve your life, and also for the praise you will receive for doing it, which will make you glow all warm and fuzzy inside, a feeling you crave. One reason you did NOT do this is selflessness (altruism), because it was not selfless. It makes you feel that warm fuzzy glow that you crave and makes your society a better place to live therefore improving your life 2 ways.
I sincerely hope you come to understand that prosocial moves like this are not selfless gestures, or examples of human altruism. The only examples of selfless or altruistic behaviour in humans are what we see in what we call “extreme altruists” who are actually anomalous altruists as compared to the rest of us who are not altruists but rather prosocial due to being wise in our self interest.
Sorry, I have to keep pointing this out. I may seem like a pest to you but I’m actually your biggest cheerleader. This is the only thing we disagree on and I press because I care deeply about your message and work.
Thanks Tim. On altruism, I think we can agree to disagree. But I will grant you this. The word ‘altruism’, as coined by Auguste Comte, is a poor description of how evolutionary biologists have come to think of prosocial behavior. At issue is the psychological element, because people derive pleasure from prosocial behavior. It does not seem like a sacrifice.
That said, I don’t fully agree with your argument. If Bill Gates had made Windows open source, he would have benefited society. But he would have deprived himself of billions of dollars. Hard to see how acting for the benefit of others can always be construed as ‘self interest’.
I would counter your Bill Gates comment by noting the multiple studies concluding that happiness does not increase with billions of dollars and in fact that kind of money can increase stress and mental anguish which can lead to unhappiness and even physical disease. Don’t be so sure that Bill Gates’ engagement with capitalism was in his best self interest. What he is doing with that wealth now (giving it away) is more in his self interest than making it in the first place. Better still would be to have not made it in the first place. He needed to be quite ruthless to do so.
The reason the distinction I make is so crucial is the importance of accurately predicting the actions humans will take under various economic and incentive systems. If we predicted that average humans were capable of acting selflessly (altruistically) we would predict wrong. It is ultra important to note that prosocial behaviours are at bottom motivated by self interest. This will allow us to predict our actions better and therefore to develop a better incentive system to replace neoclassical economics. If humans were actually capable of selfless acts, neoclassical economics might actually work. But it doesn’t work precisely because we are not capable of selflessness.