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Captain Hook Meets Adam Smith

Debunking pirate myths reveals how
hidden economic forces generate social order
magazine cover

From countless films and books we all know that, historically, pirates were criminally insane, traitorous thieves, torturers and terrorists. Anarchy was the rule, and the rule of law was nonexistent.

Not so, dissents George Mason University economist Peter T. Leeson in his myth-busting book, The Invisible Hook (Princeton University Press, 2009), which shows how the unseen hand of economic exchange produces social cohesion even among pirates. Piratical mythology can’t be true, in fact, because no community of people could possibly be successful at anything for any length of time if their society were utterly anarchistic. Thus, Leeson says, pirate life was “orderly and honest” and had to be to meet buccaneers’ economic goal of turning a profit. (continue reading…)

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Money, Markets & Morality

Are markets moral? Is our hunter-gatherer brain geared for modern capitalism, and do economies work like evolutionary organisms? The rise of neuroeconomics, the extinction of Homo Economicus and more…

Those were the topics discussed in last week’s ABC Radio National show All in the Mind, a debate recorded for National Science Week in Australia, with outspoken founder of the Skeptics Society, Dr Michael Shermer, and shareholder activist and Crikey founder, Stephen Mayne.

LISTEN to the debate

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