I’ve long been puzzled and frustrated by matters of economy. Questions about inflation, interest rates, markets, and money have always confused me, and whenever I’d express this to other people the reply most often given was, “That’s okay, no one understands that stuff.” I finally realized that someone had to understand at least some part of it, otherwise how was it even an academic subject?
I Googled “best book on economics” and Skousen’s tome was one of the hits.
I have never sat down and read a textbook that I didn’t have to. This experience got me thinking about how I could take my reading project to the next level with actual study. I approached this read with real discipline, and a plan: fourteen pages a day, first thing in the morning, and leveraged ChatGPT 4.0 (an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot) to explore concepts and reinforce my understanding. It was through this month-long practice that I came to realize how superior GPT could be to a human professor. To address the AI alarmists in the room: yes, it’s like a Terminator, but one that will not stop until it’s answered all your questions. But that’s a topic for another discussion.
It's also worth noting that this was the first time I’ve ever read any non-comic book from cover to cover on an iPad. I used to think it would be too distracting or fatiguing, but in the short sessions I used it was easily tolerable. This was a huge breakthrough, as there is a wealth of informational textbooks available through the university’s library.
The self-study program worked, and I now have a rudimentary understanding of the foundations of economic thought. There were no explicit exercises in the book, and I think I would have been better served by writing out summaries of each section and then confirming those with GPT, refining everything down into personal notes. That being said, my crack-of-dawn conversations with the large language model produced over 40,000 words, nearly enough for a textbook of my own!
As for Modern Economics, it’s a remarkably easy book to digest that gives you exactly what the title says. I was worried I’d get lost in discussion of theory and mathematics, but Skousen does an excellent job of keeping it conversational and often injects much-needed humor. I highly recommend this as an introductory text to economics, provided you’re willing to go abroad on occasion to fill in any gaps you may have with vocabulary: I came away with thirty-eight new words myself.