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Showing posts from June, 2015

The advantage of having good research assistants

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Oh, wouldn't it be great to have RA's that find stray pages from government accounts and bring them to you? From Ibn Khaldun, discussing how judges and priests generally don't become rich (emphasis added).

I discussed this with an excellent man. He disagreed with me about it. But some stray leaves from the account books of the government offices in the palace of al-Ma'mun came into my hand. They gave a good deal of information about income and expenditures at that time. Among the things I noticed, were the salaries of judges, prayer leaders, and muezzins. I called the attention of (the person mentioned) to it, and he realized that what I had said was correct. He became a convert to (my opinion), and we were both astonished at the secret ways of God with regard to His creation and His wise (planning) concerning His worlds.

Now, that's a disclaimer paragraph!

How many times have you looked at the bottom of the first page of an economics paper, and read something like "we would like to thank X, Y, and Z for useful comments and corrections. All remaining mistakes are our own", where X, Y and Z are well known scholars, usually named in decreasing order citation count.
Well, step back and let 14th century polymath Ibn Khaldun show you how its done:
In a way, at-Turtushi aimed at the right idea, but did not hit it. He did not realize his intention or exhaust his problems.  We, on the other hand, were inspired by God. He led us to a science whose truth we ruthlessly set forth. If I have succeeded in presenting the problems of (this science) exhaustively and in showing how it differs in its various aspects and characteristics from all other crafts, this is due to divine guidance. If, on the other hand, I have omitted some point, or if the problems of (this science) have got confused with something else, the task of correcting remains f…