Madsen Pirie

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Madsen Pirie
Born 24 August 1940
Kingston upon Hull, England
Residence London, England
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Edinburgh
University of St Andrews
University of Cambridge
Occupation Economist

Duncan Madsen Pirie (born 24 August 1940) is a British researcher, author, and educator. He is the founder and current President of the Adam Smith Institute, a UK think tank which has been in operation since 1978.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Hull, Pirie is the son of Douglas Pirie and Eva Madsen. As a child he attended the Humberstone Foundation School (also known as Clee Grammar School for Boys; now the comprehensive Matthew Humberstone School) in Old Clee, Lincolnshire.

He graduated with an MA in History from the University of Edinburgh (1970), with a PhD in Philosophy from the University of St Andrews (1974), and with an MPhil in Land Economy from Pembroke College, Cambridge (1997).


Before co-founding the Adam Smith Institute, a Neoliberal think tank, Pirie worked for the United States House of Representatives.[1] He was a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Logic and Philosophy at Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan, USA.[1] Pirie was one of three Britons living in the United States who founded the Adam Smith Institute.

The Institute is a UK-based think tank that champions the ideas of free market policy. In January 2010 Foreign Policy and the University of Pennsylvania named the Adam Smith Institute among the top 10 think tanks in the world outside of the US.[2] The Institute is highly influential in UK public policy, and was "a pioneer of privatisation"[3] in the UK and elsewhere.

It undertook many policy initiatives aimed at replacing state controls and monopolies with opportunities for competition choice in a broad area. The ASI proposed reforms in taxation, public services, transport and local government. It published Douglas Mason's original paper advocating a poll tax or community charge as it was later called. Pirie is seen as the architect of Margaret Thatcher's privatisation policy.[4]

His work in helping to develop the Citizen's Charter led to his appointment to the British Prime Minister John Major's Advisory Panel from 1991 to 1995.

Apart from his work with the Adam Smith Institute, Pirie is an author in several fields, including philosophy with "How to Win Every Argument" (accompanied by a YouTube video series of the same name) and "101 Great Philosophers". He has written on economics, including "Economics Made Simple", and a series of YouTube videos entitled "Economics is Fun". He has co-authored (with Eamonn Butler) "Test Your IQ", "Boost Your IQ", and "The Sherlock Holmes IQ Book". He also published "Think Tank – the Story of the Adam Smith Institute".

He has published, in addition, several science fiction novels for young adults.

Pirie appears regularly as a commentator on CNN and BBC television, and he is a keen film buff along with regularly participating in rocket launches at Cambridge with Cambridge University Spaceflight.

In 2010 he was joint winner (with Eamonn Butler) of the National Free Enterprise Award.



  • Economy and Local Government (Adam Smith Institute, with Eamonn Butler, 1981)
  • Strategy Two (1981)
  • The Logic of Economics (Adam Smith Institute, 1982)
  • Free Ports (Adam Smith Institute, with Eamonn Butler, 1983)
  • Test Your I.Q. (with Eamonn Butler, 1983)
  • The Future of Pensions (1983)
  • Aid by Enterprise: Market Solutions to the Problem of Development (1984)
  • The Book of Fallacy: A Training Manual for Intellectual Subversives (Routledge, 1985)
  • Dismantling the State: The Theory (National Center for Policy Analysis, 1985)
  • Privatization: Theory, Practice and Choice (Avebury, 1988)
  • The Health of Nations (Adam Smith Institute, with Eamonn Butler, 1988)
  • The Health Alternatives (Adam Smith Institute, with Eamonn Butler, 1988)
  • Enlightenment: Changing the System (with Eamonn Butler, 1988)
  • Health Management Units (with Eamonn Butler, 1988)
  • Managing Better Health (with Michael Goldsmith, 1988)
  • Extending Care (with Eamonn Butler, 1989)
  • Curbing Crime: Its Origins, Pattern, and Prevention (with Sir John Wheeler, Mary Tuck, Barry Poyner, 1989)
  • Wider Still and Wider: Europe and the East (with Peter Young and Norman Stone, 1990)
  • Boost Your IQ (with Eamonn Butler, 1991)
  • Citizens Charter (1991)
  • Blueprint for a Revolution (1993)
  • The End of the Welfare State (with Michael Bell, Eamonn Butler, David Marsland, 1994)
  • 20-20 Vision: Targets for Britain (1994)
  • Sherlock Holmes IQ Book: Test Your I.Q. Against the Great Detective (with Eamonn Butler, 1995)
  • IQ Puzzlers (with Eamonn Butler, 1995)
  • Fortune Account (with Eamonn Butler, 1995)
  • The Millennial Generation (with Robert M. Worcester, 1998)
  • The Next Leaders (with Robert M. Worcester, 1999)
  • How to Win Every Argument: The Use and Abuse of Logic (Continuum, 2007)
  • Freedom 101 (2008)
  • Zero Base Policy (2009)
  • 101 Great Thinkers – Makers of Modern Thought (Continuum, 2009)
  • Economics Made Simple: How Money, Trade and Markets Really Work (2011)
  • Think Tank: The Story of the Adam Smith Institute (BiteBack, 2012)
  • Trial & Error and the Idea of Progress (Adam Smith Institute, 2015)


  • The Waters of Andros (2007)
  • Children of the Night (2007)
  • Dark Visitor (2007)
  • The Emerald Warriors (2011)
  • Tree Boy (2012)
  • Silver Dawn (2013)


  1. ^ a b Pirie's profile at the Adam Smith Institute
  2. ^ [1] Archived 26 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ The Influence of the Adam Smith Institute, Philip Morris, 1994.
  4. ^ Brookes, Warren T. (4 May 1988). "Is Margaret Thatcher leading the way in education reform?". San Francisco Chronicle. 

External links[edit]