Simplification is necessary in research. But it has limitations in providing a grand theory of everything.

by Julia Evans on March 3, 2012

Quotes from: ‘The wealth of nations’ a book review by Martin Wolf of ‘Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty’ by James A. Robinson and Daron Acemoglu. Published on 3rd March 2012 by the Financial Times and available here.


Re: 1. My comments   2. Further quotes from Martin Wolf’s book review

1. My comments

Reason for my interest:

Areas where this Government has used research to provide  ‘a grand theory of everything’.

a) NICE clinical guidelines, Skills for Health competences, HPC and CHRE guidelines for training, ethics, and much else all purport to be evidence based.


b) HPO2001 promises to provide ‘wellbeing & (mental) health’. This is an example of the Government’s megalomaniac view of its capacity to control based in a ‘grand theory of everything’.


c)   What UK Government action will produce is an “extractive” (see below) market in the provision of care through its Happiness Factories (IAPT) or Government-guaranteed therapeutic processes (See NICE clinical guidelines). An “inclusive” provision of health care aims at allowing everyone to engage on an equal footing. Whereas, the Government’s plans divide the population into those defined by the Government to be superior enough to be treatment givers or Wellbeing Practitioners and those who the Government defines through NICE and economic-dependency- on-the-state to be inferior and in need of treatment to bring them back to standard.


2. Further quotes from Martin Wolf’s book review

‘The distinction ‘Why Nations Fail’ draws is between “extractive” and “inclusive” economic institutions. The purpose of the former is to ensure the prosperity of the few at the expense of the many. The aim of the latter is to allow everybody to engage in the economy, on an equal footing. Slavery and feudalism are extractive economic institutions. Law-governed market economies are inclusive economic institutions.


What determines these economic institutions? To answer this question, the book offers a parallel distinction between “extractive” and “inclusive” political institutions. The defining characteristics of inclusive institutions are the combination of centralisation with pluralism: the state must be strong enough to keep private power in check and yet be controlled by widely shared political authority. All other political arrangements are extractive.

This is an intellectually rich book that develops an important thesis with verve. It should be widely read. But it is not the last word on the hugely important questions it raises. Simplification is necessary in research. But it has limitations in providing a grand theory of everything.’  End quote