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the dismal science

A disparaging term for the discipline of economics, coined in 1849 by Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle as a label for the school of economists who supported the abolition of slavery. Economists have predicted that the exponential population growth will eventually cause our entire society to collapse in on itself—I suppose that is why they are known as practitioners of the dismal science.
See also: dismal, science

dismal science, the

Economics. The term is Thomas Carlyle’s, and he first used it in On the Nigger Question (1849), writing: “The social science—not a ‘gay science’ but a rueful—which finds the secret of this Universe in ‘supply and demand’ . . . what we might call, by way of eminence, the dismal science.” He repeated it the following year in a pamphlet, and it gradually caught on, becoming particularly popular among students struggling with the subject’s complexities.
See also: dismal
References in periodicals archive ?
Summer nails Bourjois Anti-Choc No Chips in Poppy Red | pounds 5.99 This dismally fails to live up to its promise of longevity, chipping badly within 24 hours despite claiming minimum coverage of three days and maximum of ten.
UNITY IS A MOST POWERFUL WEAPON After crushing triumphs for first Great Britain and Ireland, then the USA, in the Vivendi Trophy and Presidents Cup, team golf outside of the Ryder Cup is looking dismally predictable due to the nature of the two competitions.
South Africans have failed dismally to cut the energy consumption called for by state-owned utility Eskom and now face a dark 2009.
CALL me an old cynic but Paula Radcliffe's New York marathon win at the weekend could only have been motivated by the pounds 100,000 prize, given that she failed so dismally to win a medal a few months earlier at the Beijing Olympics when she was one of the favourites.
This August was the most dismally overcast on record and will end in a washout, experts predicted.
THIS month was the most dismally overcast on record and will end in a wash-out tomorrow, forecasters said today.
Summary: Public expectations of the current Cabinet's ability to make significant achievements were dismally low from the moment the ministers took office.
Malpas were dismissed for 132 at Pontymister as their batting failed dismally.
Boro collapsed dismally in the second half against Aston Villa and were second best at Liverpool.
It should do so with a view to making its economy more competitive to stave off the Chinese challenge as well as to raising its dismally low savings and investment rates.
Yet none of the legislation or executive orders drafted by unions makes any mention of the actual hourly wage or even the fact that the compensation is dismally low.
That's what most poor people do in this country: they work, usually quite hard at dismally paying jobs, sometimes more than one job at a time.
Using data from a recently published book, The History of Science and Technology, Huebner dismally concludes that innovation peaked in 1873 and has been declining ever since.
These portraits inevitably fail to discuss their subjects in context, fail to examine the sheer pathology of their characters, and in the resultant glibness they end up supporting the dominant culture's tacit assertion that fast cash, no matter how dismally gained, is the American dream towards which all lives should be directed.
In a fascinating chapter on the "sporting life," the author describes how relations between the classes played out and were altered by the commercialization of equestrian activities, the growth of amateur athletic societies (especially bodybuilding), yacht and bicycle clubs, and (dismally unsuccessful) soccer.