Delation: the feeling you experience as a PhD student upon completing a major task (marking essays, writing a consultancy report, organising a conference, writing a working paper…) and realising that all that work has not brought you even a single step closer to completing your thesis.
December 12, 2013
November 26, 2011
Ad Frominem: Closely related to Ad Hominem, Ad Frominem is the act of trying to dismiss a concept by noting that it comes from somewhere else. e.g “Human rights are a Western construct and not relevant here.” Or, “Dissent is un-American.”
Ad Frominems are frequently used and thoroughly wrong-headed. Frequently used, one presumes, because they are an effective means of mustering nationalistic sentiment to stifle debate. Thoroughly wrong-headed because concepts are right or wrong because they are right or wrong not because they came from somewhere in particular.
August 11, 2011
The Kagame Counterfactual: An inversion of the old saw that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” In this case referring to the fact that the likely alternative to the pretty-bad is often only the worse.
The term stems from the dilemma aid agencies face when dealing with Paul Kagame: counterfactuals. Kagame is a repressive autocrat, and giving aid to his government means giving aid to a government headed by a repressive autocrat. This is not good. Yet if donors ceased giving aid to Rwanda it is far from clear whether it would actually lead to him changing his ways, rather than merely leading to a situation where he remains a repressive leader — of a slightly poorer, less healthy and more poorly-educated, aidless country.
The Kagame Counterfactual doesn’t, by any means, explain all the aid that has been given to repressive governments over the years. Much of this was given for all the wrong reasons. But it does explain why, even when the intentions are good, the aid agency’s lot is often a dirty one.
August 8, 2011
Pissedemology: From epistemology. The influence of a person’s grudges on their intellectual thought. i.e. “For at least 10 years Jeffrey Sachs has been central to the pissedemology of William Easterly.”
July 13, 2010
1. That panicked feeling you get when you realise that, while everyone else in the room seems to understand what PEPFID stands for, you haven’t got the faintest idea. And that, at some point in the next few minutes, you’re going to have to confess to this.
Related: acromony (the angry frustration you feel having realised that every new report you ever read about international development is going to introduce at least 5 new, ugly, unmemorable acronyms or abbreviations into your life.)
June 23, 2010
Pron: Socialist! yadayada Bob Geldof! splutter!
Rhetorical device, as opposed to an actual existing entity. Straw NGOs are patronising, ideological, over-resourced, immensely powerful and responsible for all manner of ills. This contrasts with real NGOs which, while human, and hence fallible, generally do ok on few resources and in tricky situations. For this reason Straw NGOs are popular with bloggers and critics of aid.
June 7, 2010
1. The propensity to display profound skepticism for the evidence of your opponents and, at the same time, complete credulity for the arguments of your intellectual friends. See, for example, this discussion of William Easterly’s Moyopia.
2. Not letting facts get in the way of a good polemic. Evidenced here with Dambasa Moyo’s claim that: “Between 1970 and 1998, when aid flows to Africa were at their peak, poverty in Africa rose from 11% to a staggering 66%”.
June 4, 2010
To be all the rage in development circles. e.g. “RCTs are so Sachsy right now!”; “Microfinance isn’t nearly as Sachsy as it used to be.”
Antonym: Un-Sachsy. e.g. “EEwww! Import controls! How un-Sachsy”
May 31, 2010
The feeling you get when you read yet another simplistic, poorly informed take on international development in your local paper.
E.g. “Boy did that interview with Dambasa Moyo leave me feeling Kristof.”
May 30, 2010
To Eastelytize: To propound through sermon, speech, or blog post the claim that development is far too complex to be amenable to any simplistic solution. Except your own.