Bill Easterly on the ‘Tyranny of Experts’

Bill Easterly
Bill Easterly

William Easterly, a professor of economics and one of Bill Gates’ least favorite aid experts, will be speaking in Seattle at Town Hall next Tuesday, March 25, starting at 7:30 pm. Humanosphere’s Tom Paulson will be emceeing a Q&A at Town Hall with Easterly after his lecture Breaking the Cycle of Poverty, based on his book The Tyranny of Experts.

The book by the former World Bank expert – who is now one of the leading critics of World Bank experts – is the latest in which Easterly again jousts with folks like Bill Gates and the anti-poverty advocate and economist Jeffrey Sachs. As Humanosphere has frequently noted, the ongoing Sachs-Easterly debate frequently flares up to engage and entertain the humanitarian community.

Tom, who admitted to first regarding Easterly as entertaining but just another one of those anti-aid cranks,  believes the controversial economist has some important points that anyone interested in fighting poverty and inequity needs to take seriously. In the podcast, we ask Easterly to explain what he means by ‘authoritarian development,’ why he so strongly argues against the ‘technocratic’ approach taken by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and, if the mainstream aid/dev community is doing it wrong, what’s he actually proposing to make it right.

Before our chat with Easterly, Tom and I review some of the top stories this week in the Humanosphere. Tom Murphy reviewed a powerful, prize-winning documentary film, The Act of Killing, which explores, through the eyes of a killer, Indonesia’s slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people in the mid-1960s. Accompanying this post was a guest post drawing attention to the ongoing effort by West Papuan’s to gain independence from Indonesia after the bigger country invaded it immediately after it declared independence.

Tom Paulson did several stories over the past two weeks that reported on both the promise and perils ahead for global health: He writes about a major study that claims to show improving health is the most effective way to fight poverty and create growth (a claim hotly disputed in the comments); Secondly, that the global health community – for the last decade or so, the top dog in the development hierarchy – has perhaps lost some clout and, in an analysis, may be in need of a more coherent and clear strategy.

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About Author

Gabe Spitzer

Gabriel Spitzer covers health and science at KPLU, after a year covering youth and education. He joined KPLU after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago.