How Sen's Theory Can Cause Famines
Amartya Sen and the Bengal Famine
HOW AMARTYA SEN'S THEORY CAUSES FAMINES
Five minutes calculation shows that Amartya Sen’s explanation of the Bengal Famine is wrong. It is not possible for any group to eat so much extra food that millions went hungry or starved. (Click here for the figures you need for the calculation). This means that his “facts” must be wrong.
Peter Bowbrick meticulously documents 30+ instances where Sen misrepresents the facts in his sources. These are major misrepresentations on critical issues. It will take you only a few hours to check this for yourself. (Click here for hard-to-obtain source documents.) Other researchers have found similar misrepresentations. (Other misrepresentations)
Sen’s attack on the straw man of Food Availability Decline (FAD) and his entitlement theory are fatally flawed, as is the rest of his work on famine.
This monograph is a slightly edited version of an occasional paper published by the Institute of Agricultural Economics, Oxford University in 1986. A shorter version was published in Food Policy (Bowbrick, 1986) and papers were presented to the Agricultural Economics Society and Development Studies Association in 1985.
These papers showed that throughout his work on famine Amartya Sen had systematically and ubiquitously misrepresented the facts in his sources and misquoted his sources.
The new insights and theory attributed to Sen are shown to have been fully developed in his sources, especially the source he criticizes most strongly. Most of the ideas have been around since Adam Smith at least.
In the past twelve years Sen has had ample opportunity to correct these misstatements or withdraw his publications. He has done neither. He continues to publish the same misstatements and misrepresentations.
His replies to my Food Policy article are characterized by further misstatements, ad hominem arguments, unacademic language, and a complete failure to respond to the detailed documentation of misstatements and misquotation.
For at least twelve years Sen has known the facts. At this stage it is no longer possible to talk of innocent error.
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