Re: How the Dismal Science Got Its Name

Robin Hanson (
Fri, 21 Mar 1997 22:18:52 -0800 (PST)

Max More writes:
>I always heard that economics was referred to as "the dismal science"
>because it was associated early on with Malthus's doctrines of increasing
>scarcity of resources and the inevitability of poverty.

That is the common misconception.

>From the above quote, it's not clear that even from the racist's
>viewpoint economics would be "dismal" unless the word meant something
>different then.

I think "dismal" meant what we now think. I will try to get the full
quote on Monday, but the basic idea is "killjoy" I think.

Robin D. Hanson