Author of Filthy Lucre and The Rebel Sell
- The Walrus
Joseph Heath enjoys nothing more than finding out that things he once thought true are in fact false. Heath is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, where he also teaches at the School of Public Policy and Governance. He is the author of four bestselling books: Economics Without Illusions: Debunking the Myths of Modern Capitalism, The Efficient Society: Why Canada is As Close to Utopia as it Gets, with Andrew Potter, The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't be Jammed, and Filthy Lucre: Economics for People Who Hate Capitalism. His work has been translated into 12 different languages and counting. His new book, Enlightenment 2.0, brings us the concept of slow politics: promoting slow thought, slow deliberation and slow debate to restore sanity in today's rapid-fire political and media landscape.Read More
The Secret History of Risk
There are some things about the recent financial crisis that you won't find out reading the newspaper. Banks, we are told, started lending money to people with no jobs, no skills, and no prospects. What happened? Did bankers around the world go crazy? Of course not. They had a theory about what they we doing -- a theory, of course, that turned out to be mistaken. It was based upon a particular understanding of risk. In order to figure out what went wrong, and in order to avoid repeating past mistakes, we need a better understanding. We need to figure out the role that risk plays in our society, and how other societies, throughout human history, have dealt with the most basic problem of dealing with uncertainty.
Overcoming Bias: How to Think Straight
Our brains are the product of evolution. What sort of consequences does this have for our day-to-day lives? The most important is that it forces us to realize that we are imperfect. Just as your spine was not really designed to support upright posture, so your brain was not designed to support rational thought. Nature is not in the business of producing perfection, it's in the business of producing things that are good enough. Yet this does not mean that we are fated to be irrational, any more than we are fated to suffer from back pain. There are ways we can learn to overcome the biases that nature has instilled in us.
Understanding the Rebel Consumer
Do you hate consumer culture? Angry about all that packaging? Irritated by all those commercials? Well, join the club. Anti-consumerism has become one of the most important cultural forces in North American life. Strangely, it has also become one of the most powerful marketing tools. What can we conclude from all this? How can we all denounce consumerism, and yet still find ourselves living in a consumer society? The answer is quite simple. Popular anti-consumerism is not actually a critique of consumerism; it's merely a restatement of the "critique of mass society" that has been around since the 1960s. The two are not the same. In fact, the critique of mass society has been one of the most powerful forces driving consumer spending for more than 50 years.
What's Right, and what's Wrong, about Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporations in the 21st century are facing increased demands for "socially responsible" and "sustainable" investment. At the same time, shareholder activism is putting increased pressure on managers to creates value for investors. What is the responsible manager to do? The best place to look for an answer is to the marketplace itself. The market is, after all, not a jungle but rather a carefully staged competition, designed to align the interests of corporations with those of society more generally. A better understanding of the nature of this competition provides the best guide for thinking about the ethical dilemmas that arise in a business context.
Over the last twenty years, the political systems of the western world have become increasingly divided—not between right and left, but between crazy and non-crazy. What’s more, the crazies seem to be gaining the upper hand. Rational thought cannot prevail in the current social and media environment, where elections are won by appealing to voters’ hearts rather than their minds. The rapid-fire pace of modern politics, the hypnotic repetition of daily news items and even the multitude of visual sources of information all make it difficult for the voice of reason to be heard.
In Enlightenment 2.0, bestselling author Joseph Heath outlines a program for a second Enlightenment. The answer, he argues, lies in a new “slow politics.” It takes as its point of departure recent psychological and philosophical research, which identifies quite clearly the social and environmental preconditions for the exercise of rational thought. It is impossible to restore sanity merely by being sane and trying to speak in a reasonable tone of voice. The only way to restore sanity is by engaging in collective action against the social conditions that have crowded it out.
A dozen times every day, individuals and organizations use economic claims to support social and political points of view. Those on the left tend to distrust economists, seeing them as friends of the right. There is something to this skepticism, since professional economists are almost all keen supporters of the free market. Yet while factions on the right naturally embrace economists, they also tend to overestimate the effect of their support on free-market policies. The result is widespread confusion. In fact, virtually all commonly held beliefs about economics--whether espoused by political activists, politicians, journalists or taxpayers--are just plain wrong.
Joseph Heath, co-author of the international bestseller The Rebel Sell, wants to improve our economic literacy and empower us with new ideas. In Filthy Lucre, he draws on everyday examples to skewer the six favourite economic fallacies of the right, before impaling the six favourite fallacies of the left. Heath leaves no sacred cows untipped as he breaks down complex arguments and shows how the monetary world really works. The popularity of such books as Freakonomics and Predictably Irrational demonstrates that people want a better understanding of the financial forces that affect them. Highly readable, flawlessly argued and certain to raise ire along all points of the socio-political spectrum, Filthy Lucre is a must-read for anyone wanting to engage in clear debate on social and political issues.
The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't Be Jammed
With the popularity of Michael Moore, Adbusters magazineand Naomi Klein's No Logo, it's hard to ignore the growing tide ofresistance to our corporatecontrolled world. But do these vocal opponents of thestatus quo offer us a real political alternative? In this lively blend of pop culture, history and philosophicalanalysis, Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter argue that this counter cultural opposition to "the system" has not only been unproductive but has helped to create the very consumer society that radicals oppose. This thought-provoking book will enrage and entertain today's counter cultural rebels and their opponents on the political right.
Economics Without Illusions
Every day economic claims are used by the media or in conversation to support social and political positions. Those on the left tend to distrust economists, seeing them as friends of the right. There is something to this, since professional economists are almost all keen supporters of the free market. Yet while factions on the right naturally embrace economists, they also tend to overestimate the effect of their support on free-market policies. The result is widespread confusion. In fact, virtually all commonly held beliefs about economics--whether espoused by political activists, politicians, journalists or taxpayers--are just plain wrong.
Professor Joseph Heath wants to raise our economic literacy and empower us with new ideas. In Economics Without Illusions, he draws on everyday examples to skewer the six favourite economic fallacies of the right, followed by impaling the six favourite fallacies of the left. Heath leaves no sacred cows untipped as he breaks down complex arguments and shows how the world really works. The popularity of such books as Freakonomics and Predictably Irrational demonstrates that people want a better understanding of the financial forces that affect them.
Highly readable, cogently argued and certain to raise ire along all points of the socio-political spectrum, Economics Without Illusions offers readers the economic literacy they need to genuinely understand and critique the pros and cons of capitalism.
The Lavin twitter will be quiet for the next few days as we celebrate the long weekend. Looking forward to catching up with you all on Mon!about 5 hours ago