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Solomon's Knot by Robert D. Cooter, Hans-Bernd Schäfer

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Chapter 13

Academic Scribblers and Defunct Economists

Physicians in the eighteenth century thought that an imbalance in the blood caused disease. To restore the balance, doctors used leaches to suck blood from weak people. This treatment apparently hastened the death of the ailing composer Mozart.1 Similarly, false theories of development weaken economies and sometimes kill people. As noted earlier, the worst example of death from bad economics was the collectivization of agriculture, which contributed to starvation and disease that killed up to 40 million Russians and Chinese in the twentieth century.2 Bad economics also causes poverty, which is unhealthy—life expectancy today is eighty-two years in Japan and thirty-nine years in Zambia.3

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