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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Economist Stephen Moore explains why we should mistrust science.

Stephen Moore is an conservative economist who writes for the Wall Street Journal. Here's a quote from the Wikipedia article ...
In a February 2, 2011 appearance on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, Moore stated "I say the Reagan tax cuts were the greatest economic policy of the last 50 years" and added "the lowest income people had the biggest gains" during the 1980s. found Moore's assertion to be false.
Moore thinks he's in a position to explain why scientists should not be trusted [The myth of ‘settled science’].
The magazine [National Geographic] is incredulous that so many skeptics "believe that climate activists are using the threat of global warming to attack the free market and industrial society generally."

Wait. Climate change activists are using the issue as a means of attacking free-market capitalism. This past summer major environmental groups gathered in Venezuela to solve leading environmental problems like global warming, concluding: “The structural causes of climate change are linked to the current capitalist hegemonic system.”

How is it paranoia to believe that the climate change industry wants to shut down capitalism when the movement plainly states that this is its objective? And how can a movement be driven by science when its very agenda violates basic laws of economics? I am no scientist, but I’m highly skeptical of a movement whose first advice is to steer the U.S. economy off a cliff toward financial ruin.
Well, there you have it. According to Stephen "I am no scientist" Moore, science can't be trusted because it violates the basic laws of economics, like those laws that Ronald Reagan must have obeyed when he instituted the greatest economic policy of the last 50 years.



  1. As far As i can see, most economic policies are a disaster. In the early 80's I worked for a company that wrote mortgage software. The big thing then was graduated payment mortgages, which allowed people to buy houses they couldn't afford, on the assumption that their incomes would rise.

    Later in that decade I wrote software to deal with the foreclosures that resulted.

    After 2001, the bubble policies were repeated in the form of sub-prime mortgages.

    I have no ideological objection to welfare and safety nets, but economists suck at trying to manipulate markets. As individuals they suck at investing. They are much better at hindsight.

  2. And how can a movement be driven by science when its very agenda violates basic laws of economics?

    And there we have it.

    In these people's minds, the world is governed by the laws of economics, not by those of physics.

    The logical question is why is it not only possible but very common for people to get out of college/university with a degree and with such worldviews? In fact, the same applies to high school...

    1. On the other hand, when a society that claimed to renounce the "capitalist hegemonic system" tried its hand at science, things didn't turn out so well for the biologists, er "bourgeois Mendelist/Morganists"... The world is indeed governed by economic as well as natural scientific laws, just not the ones necessarily favored by either Stephen Moore or people ranting about "hegemonic systems".

    2. Try again.

      What you are referring to was never based on anything remotely close to what we understand as "science" here.

      Secular religions can be just as irrational and dogmatic as theistic ones.

    3. Absolutely. But it is worth remembering that natural scientists need to choose their allies carefully. People who support climate change research because they want to crush "capitalistic hegemony" rather than for scientific reasons are unlikely to be useful allies in the long run. And it is true on the right as well. Part of the reason genetics wasn't favored in the Soviet Union was its connection with movements like eugenics in its early years.

    4. Georgi, please don't say "secular religions", it's an oxymoron and it's what creationists say "Darwinism" is. Say secular bad ideas or secular crankery or something.

    5. But such things do exist - what alternative term do you suggest to refer to them?

  3. So he believes that trickle down economics was a success? He should have a drink with David Stockman, the person who came up with the idea and advised Reagan to implement it. Stockman thinks it was a failure.

  4. An economic system based on growth has logical limits on a planet with defined size and resources. Just saying...

    1. What kind of growth? Malthus explained exponential population growth. AGW explains what happens with exponential growth of fossil fuel burning. Neither precludes technology based growth in wealth. In fact, personal wealth seems to enable a decline in population growth.

      And unless you believe we should --for moral reasons -- redistribute all wealth evenly across all the people of they world, you probably believe in trickle down economics. You either believe or hope that the science and technology being developed by rich industrialized nations will eventually help the third world. Possibly help them bypass some of the horrors of industrialization.

      My own gripe is that I think most political solutions are counterproductive. That pessimism is balanced by the thought that those few policies that are productive tend to prosper, given enough time. I mostly observe. I have no great ideas and little interest in the daily activities of politicians.

    2. Any kind of economic activity uses energy.And there are hard limits on efficiency improvements through technology.

      So there is no such thing as infinite technology-based growth.

      That personal wealth leads to decline in population growth on its own is a huge misconception that makes very little biological sense (the "purpose" of your existence is to maximize your inclusive fitness subject to certain constraints) and does not really fit the data either. Super-rich people tend to have more kids than middle class people. Because they can afford it while the middle class people cannot. The demographic transition to subreplacement fertility happens not because people's fundamental desire to have kids drops to that level, but because the cost of raising them so that they are competitive in such societies becomes very high. Not a problem for the ultra rich - they're not having 10 kids as poor farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa do, but they still often have more than two, because paying for their education is not an issue and the personal cost to the parents isn't that high either - they can afford nannies, the mother can afford to spend the time and effort to get back to something close to her previous physical condition after giving birth, etc. Culture plays a big role too (by lowering the social cost of having many kids). The very wealthy oil-rich countries of the Persian gulf have not dropped to below-replacement fertility - how does the demographic transition theory explain that?

  5. And how can a movement be driven by science when its very agenda violates basic laws of economics?

    I though that for some principle to be classified as a law that it had to be inviolate (e.g., the 2nd law of thermodynamics). The only thing that is inviolate about economics is that it crashes with remarkable frequency.

  6. Climate change activists are using the issue as a means of attacking free-market capitalism.

    Seems to me they make a pretty good point. There is no such thing as "free-market capitalism". Real world capitalism is a socio-polito-economic system that has, for more than a hundred years, protected the fossil fuel industry from including its external costs into its retail price.

    According to a M.I.T. study, the cost of adaptation to business-as-usual CO2 emissions will be $1240 trillion by year 2100 alone.

    1. Talking about the cost of adaptation is in fact part of the problem - in reality, such numbers mean that there will be no adaptation.

      If you put a number on it, it makes it fit within the existing economic framework of thinking. But you are not really allowed to talk about the problem in real terms, which involves honest discussion about global civilizational collapse and its implications.