An Irish-American disclaimer

In a footnote to his paper on Irish famines, Edward J. O'Boyle writes:

It is commonplace in economic research to assume that the investigator has removed all traces of personal values from his/her work. As Becker (1961, p.10) implies, that could be a serious error. For that reason, let me state at the outset that I am a first-generation Irish-American, holding dual citizenship in the United States and the Republic of Ireland. My mother and father both were born and raised in County Mayo — the poorest county in western Ireland where the toll in human lives lost during the Great Famine was staggering. I do not know how many of my own Irish ancestors suffered and died during the Great Famine. What I do know and acknowledge is that my selection of this topic clearly is related to that family background which also very likely influenced the way I have interpreted the evidence presented herein. I concede that someone else sifting through the evidence might come to different conclusions, but I know of no other way to proceed. Supportive comments by Hans Jensen and Peter Danner on earlier drafts are gratefully acknowledged, as are the suggestions made by the editor and an anonymous referee. Any remaining errors are entirely mine.


Probably a simiilar sentiment applies in the case of Amartya Sen's work on the Bengal famine.

the classic problem, really. It takes someone with a tie-in, a compelling personal reason, to want to investigate, but the compelling personal reason also cheapens the investigation

I felt much more forgiving after re-reading that with an Irish accent.

Seriously? How many generations ago was the Great Famine?

"Seriously? How many generations ago was the Great Famine? "

When someone asked Confucius what the difference was between humans and animals, he said "[Humans} revere their parents and obey their leaders."

This man is talking about something that happened to his ancestors, but that somehow is lost on you. Confucius is still right on how to tell between humans and animals, apparently.

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