Waylaid Dialectic

December 12, 2013

PhD Neologisms: delation

Filed under: Development Neologisms — terence @ 6:51 am

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.

November 26, 2011

Development Neologisms: Ad Frominem

Filed under: Development Neologisms — terence @ 4:55 pm

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

Development Neologism: The Kagame Counterfactual

Filed under: Development Neologisms — terence @ 8:05 pm

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

Development Neologism: Pissedemology

Filed under: Development Neologisms — terence @ 7:54 pm

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

Development Neologisms: Acrophobia

Filed under: Development Neologisms — terence @ 8:51 am


Pron: Acro-phobia
Function: noun

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

Development Neologisms: Straw NGO

Filed under: Development Neologisms — terence @ 8:54 am

Straw NGO
Pron: Socialist! yadayada Bob Geldof! splutter!
Function: insult

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.

See for example, this comment (by someone who usually does much better) and also this comment.

June 7, 2010

Development Neologisms: Moyopia

Filed under: Aid,Development Neologisms — terence @ 1:38 pm


Pron: Moy-opia
Function: noun

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

Development Neologisms: Sachsy

Filed under: Development Neologisms,Random Musings — terence @ 12:40 pm

Pron: Sachs-ee
Function: adjective

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

Development Neologisms: Kristof

Pron: Krist-off
Function: adjective

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.”

Inspired by this. Not to mention this. And this.

May 30, 2010

Development Neologisms: Eastelytize

Filed under: Aid,Development Neologisms,Random Musings — terence @ 12:23 pm
Tags: ,

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.

Inspired by this comment on Aidwatch and also Robert Wade’s comments on Development Drums.

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