Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World

Book review by Deane Barker

This is another book to which I gave every chance, but I eventually abandoned because it just never proved its point.

The author is apparently quite famous in politically conservative circles. His prior book – Wealth and Poverty – was well-known, and I gather that he had something to do with popularizing the idea of “supply-side” or “trickle-down” economics. More than once, he noted that he was “Ronald Reagan’s most-quoted living author.”

He seized on Claude Shannon’s concepts of information theory, and he seems to be desparate to wrap them around economics to prove that government should stay out of the private sector. He tries to link signal vs. noise and concepts of entropy to the “purity” of the free market.

It doesn’t quite work. Every time he pushed this analogy, it seemed like he was reaching. I just didn’t get the parallels.

He never really proved his case. Maybe I need to read Wealth and Poverty, but he just sorts of accepts all those precepts without ever proving them – he just quotes and refers to them as if they were settled fact.

Incidentally, I noticed this praise quote on the back:

My friends, it would behoove you to study everything can get your hands on by George Gilder, a true American genius.
– Rush Limbaugh

What I find so interesting about that is that it sounds like Limbaugh never actually read the book? Almost like he’s damning with faint praise.

I skipped forward to the conclusion, but, honestly, that didn’t do much for me either. This one just never came together.

Book Info

George Gilder

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