A Few Links

by Don Boudreaux on November 5, 2011

in Balance of Payments, Economics, Environment, Myths and Fallacies, Population, Trade

Mark Perry on Matt Ridley on the likely non-problem that is climate change.

In this podcast, Cato’s Jim Dorn reflects upon the influence of the late Bill Niskanen.

Frank Stephenson on an economic fallacy peddled by Peter Morici.

Steve Landsburg welcomes the baby – whoever he or she is – who, when born last week, pushed the world’s human population to 7 billion.

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{ 49 comments }

Invisible Backhand November 5, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Mark Perry on Matt Ridley on the likely non-problem that is climate change.

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Angus Millar Lecture of the Royal Society of the Arts” in Edinburgh, titled “Scientific Heresy”

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I’m grateful to Matt Ridley for allowing me to post the text of his Angus Millar lecture at the RSA in Edinburgh. [Update: I have prepared a PDF version of the talk,

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http://www.bishop-hill.net/storage/ScientificHeresy.pdf

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“I urge you to read Andrew Montford’s careful and highly readable
book The Hockey Stick Illusion.”

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Reviews of Hockey Stick Illusion:

The Hockey Stick Illusion published by Stacey International was greeted by mixed reviews. Positive from the likes of Christopher Booker and Matt Ridley, well known right wing climate skeptics RealClimate described it as as “Montford’s typical sloppy research” in an article entitled The Montford Delusion. Elsewhere it was described as an “entertaining conspiracy yarn”. Another review entitled Mean-spirited scepticism by Richard Joyner Emeritus Professor at Nottingham Trent University says “Montford’s book is not an honest contribution” In ‘Chemistry World’ Professor Nick Hewitt writes “Here, one small part of the body of evidence that shows the Earth is warming is examined in tedious detail… but this polemic does absolutely nothing to alter the physics of the Earth system. Andrew Montford declares he studied chemistry – with the benefit of his scientific education one would think he should know better. Readers of Chemistry World will have far better things to do than read this pedantic book.”

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Thus, an Accountant set out to summarise attempts by a Mining consultant and an Economist to discredit the work of a team of multi-disciplinary Scientists: As such, is it so unreasonable to question the motives of the non-scientists involved? Why do they find it necessary to question the integrity of the scientists? Once again, the answer (a desire to deny our responsibility for AGW) accords with Aaronovitch’s explanation for conspiracy theories: We believe in them to make ourselves feel better… But the story does not end there: The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) then asked this Chartered Accountant to write a report on the Climategate inquiries for them!

What is the point of asking a non-scientist to investigate such a complex subject as international, multi-disciplinary, research into something as complicated as global climatology? Be that as it may, Montford unsurprisingly found “evidence” of a state-sponsored conspiracy to provide excuse to tax people more heavily.

You wouldn’t expect such gullibility from someone who wrote this:

Save for the relatively few economists steeped in Public Choice economics, the typical economist today remains a political naif—and a dangerous one at that. He is bloated with unjustified confidence in models which show that if government officials behave in the public interest and if these officials are immune to the same decision-making quirks and knowledge limitations that afflict decision-makers in private markets, then government can perform all manner of marvels. This economist then uses his authority to support interventions that are utterly unjustified by genuine scientific standards.

It’s shameful.

Invisible Backhand November 5, 2011 at 6:06 pm

I feel much better now that I’ve taken my daily data-dump.

Thank you for watching.

ArrowSmith November 5, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I knew something stank in here.

Invisible Backhand November 5, 2011 at 6:49 pm

:)

Thanks! I try my best to contribute what I can.

Invisible Backhand November 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm

Oops, you forgot the real IB doesn’t use smiley faces.

Invisible Backhand November 5, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Oops, you forgot the real IB doesn’t use smiley faces.

I am the real IB. I do what I please. You are an impostor and an interloper.

Everyone on this site recognizes that.

Invisible Backhand November 5, 2011 at 8:16 pm

but, but, the respect and admiration of these Beverly Gullibilies is all I have…

Invisible Backhand November 5, 2011 at 9:21 pm

the respect and admiration of these Beverly Gullibilies is all I have…

On second thought, I also have the respect and admiration of the cadre officers and handlers at Anonymous who believe I am one of the best knee-jerk, True-Believing, leftist lackeys they have ever brainwashed. I am honored.

Invisible Backhand November 6, 2011 at 12:54 am

Protip: When you change identity, don’t suddenly stop posting in your old identity, RegardsKen.

Invisible Backhand November 6, 2011 at 5:06 am

Protip: Never change identity, maintain identity, or do anything about identity, without clearing it first with political cadre officers, handlers, and agitprop experts within one’s cell, RegardsInvisibleBackhand.

Invisible Backhand November 6, 2011 at 11:26 am

Swallowed the hook, line and sinker.

Invisible Backhand November 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I swallow whatever hooks, lines, and sinkers my handlers at Anonymous and MoveOn.org tell me to swallow.

David Coplin November 6, 2011 at 1:58 am

I agree with the idea that government officials can not and should
not be expected or asked to decide what is in the best interests of
the general public. This idea is contained in the ebook referenced
below.

Please review the economic principles proposed in the following ebook
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/povertyandthefoundationofeconomics
and comment on any errors that you find. If you do not have the time to do
this, I would appreciate your assigning the task to your friends as an exercise.

As long as we continue to use the western credit system as the primary driver of
economic production the wealthy will continue to control the means of economic
production and poverty will be a guaranteed result. The link above describes an
alternative economic system that will eliminate poverty and maximize economic
production.

Thank you for your time and attention in this matter.

Invisible Backhand November 6, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Can you summarize? The only other credit system I have knowledge of is the Islamic one, but 99% of muslims use western style banks and don’t worry about it.

Thanks for turning me on to smashbooks though. I’m addicted to kindle and you can download free ebooks without signing up. Very slick.

Here’s all the free business and economics books for anyone interested:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/category/93/newest/0/free/any

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm

“The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) then asked this Chartered Accountant to write a report on the Climategate inquiries for them!

What is the point of asking a non-scientist to investigate such a complex subject as international, multi-disciplinary, research into something as complicated as global climatology?”

Nothing, if you are completely uninformed as to what an auditor actually does-which is to test the assertions, assumptions and conclusions of others (whether they be financial or physical).

The GAO reports on non-financial matters routinely.

Bishop Hill November 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Perhaps also worthwhile pointing out that the report was not about the science anyway. It was about the integrity (or lack of it) of the inquiries.

Glen Raphael November 20, 2011 at 8:09 pm

So let me get this straight: you’re going to reject a lecture not on the basis that there’s anything specifically wrong with it, but rather on the basis that it references a book (which you haven’t read), which in turn has been criticized by other people (who also show little evidence of having read it) on the basis that the author wasn’t sufficiently “qualified” to write it or had vaguely-defined “ill motives”?

Is it really that hard to describe *actual errors* in the claims made either in Montford’s book or Ridley’s lecture, or do you just really like ignorant mudslinging and want to spread the dirt around?

Craig November 5, 2011 at 7:41 pm

“Prof. Morici might well reply that Americans could use the several hundred billion dollars that Americans spend on imported oil to purchase domestically produced energy. True perhaps, but the fact that Americans import the oil suggests that we cannot get a comparable quantity of domestically produced energy for similar prices.”

I don’t think that’s true at all. In fact, the Dakota oil boom discounts the assertion that we have a comparative disadvantage in energy production. I’m not an autarkist, but I’d like to see what we could do without the severe government restrictions on oil-drilling. It might actually decrease the trade deficit — which would not be a bad thing.

The trade deficit in goods and services is not the bugaboo it’s made out to be, but it’s not nirvana, either. After all, if trade deficits and capital inflows are so great, why do we bother to make anything?

Josh S November 5, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Hard to attract capital inflows if you’re not producing anything.

Methinks1776 November 5, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Landsburg might well have welcomed the baby, but I’m pretty sure that kid was the final straw for Stephen Leeb.

muirgeo November 5, 2011 at 9:12 pm

So when the sudden state change occurs that climatologist warns us as an unpredictable but evidence based distinct possibility occurs…THEN Mr. Ridley will claim “OK NOW I see it! You guys were right my bad… what do we do now?”. I am a man of science and I’m not willing to gamble with our children’s future as Mr. Ridley is apparently all to willing to do. He’s the equivalent of the parent who refuses to vaccinate his child because he’s never seen a case of measles.

Libertarianism…yeah it’s a cult. Cult being defined as one who needs to ignore reality or scientific evidence in order to maintain their stated belief system.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 5, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Thirty years ago, the cult of agw was warning us about the next ice age…

Jon Murphy November 5, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Led by none other than Al Gore!

muirgeo November 5, 2011 at 10:27 pm

What’s so funny GAAP is the fact that you and Jon make that claim about global cooling just is more evidence of how inculcated you are. It’s something you’ve heard over and over from your leaders and you never bother to check the truth of the matter. But you repeat the non-sense mind benumbed zooombie talking point like a ROM unthinking drone.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 5, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Unlike you, I’m old enough and sane enough to remember “the ice age is coming” ..(panic).

brotio November 6, 2011 at 12:51 am

Oh, you SSOB DMFer, YOU JUST IMAJJUNED THAT TIME MAGUHZINE CUVVER!

Vegetation under receding glaciers PROOVES ITS NEVER BIN WARMURR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am Cardinal Yasafi Torquemuirduck: Grand Inquisitor for The Church of Anthropogenic Climate Chaos (formerly known as The Church of Anthropogenic Climate Change [formerly known as The Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming]) and I approve this screed!

Greg Webb November 6, 2011 at 1:42 am

;)

Harold Cockerill November 6, 2011 at 7:23 am

Global Warming is religion.Not the part about the warming itself as it has clearly warmed over the last few thousand years but the part that says government can do anything about it. Government screws up almost everything it touches and thinking something as complicated as the earth’s climate is going to be beneficially modified by these bozos is a fantasy.

Sam Grove November 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I remember that as well.

SaulOhio November 6, 2011 at 4:42 am

I know that people like Al Gore warned of a coming ice age because of human pollution, not because I am inculcated by right wing propaganda, but because I REMEMBER IT! It happened. Deal with it.

brotio November 6, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Are you mocking HIS HOLINESS: THE DIVINE PROPHET ALGORE I?

HERESY!

I will persuhnaly see to it that you are swept away in a giant tiduhl wave of crude for you’re heresy! YOU HAVE BIN WARNED!!!!!

Jon Murphy November 6, 2011 at 9:18 am

If you’ll notice, Muirgeo never claimed we were wrong or denied what we said. All he’s said is that we’ve been taken in by propaganda. Classic misdirection.

muirgeo November 6, 2011 at 6:40 pm

No I’m saying you are wrong.

Captain Profit November 6, 2011 at 8:59 am

“an unpredictable but evidence based distinct possibility”

Oh Magoo, you’ve done it again…

Sam Grove November 6, 2011 at 12:16 pm

…evidence based…

Leftists liked the sound of that because it seemed to add credibility to any hogwash, so now they use it wherever they can (because they spout so much hogwash) without actually referring to any credible, relevant evidence.

muirgeo November 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Yeah because there is no evidence for rapid state changes in the climate associated with mass extinctions.

brotio November 6, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Which mass extinctions are you talking about, Cardinal?

Is this where you relate the parable that His Holiness: The Divine Prophet Algore I told you as you sat on his knee, basking in His whizdumb? You know, the one where the EEEEEEEVIL Darth Cheney invented the time machine, and he and his Halliburton cronies went back in time and warmed Mother Gaia to cause the extinction of the dinosaurs?

Jon Murphy November 5, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I’m glad Landsburg made that post. His book “More Sex is Safer Sex” is one of the best books I’ve read (no offense Russ & Don) and his writings on population really brought a new POV into the mix. Ridley also contributes well to that point in his book “The Rational Optimist.”

muirgeo November 5, 2011 at 10:24 pm

Matt Ridley on life insurance; ” I looked for evidence that I was dying. I looked all over and could not find any. So I declined to purchase life insurance”

Invisible Backhand November 5, 2011 at 10:49 pm

“I don’t care that I smoke, drink, weigh 395 and my blood pressure is 160 over 110, unless you can tell me the exact date and severity of this predicted ‘heart attack’ all your ‘medical science’ is meaningless!”

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 5, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Whattya’ know.. the world idiot tag team champions, both apoplectic because their god is dying..

Captain Profit November 6, 2011 at 9:13 am

Looks like we should be expecting a call for universal single payer life insurance, to protect us all from the scourge of self reliance…

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 6, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Nobody should be forced to give up a fancier car, extra ram in their ipad, a nicer house or anything else to be buy something that will only benefit their survivors. It should be a right!

Gil November 6, 2011 at 12:13 am

Or “I will die a quck painless death at advanced old age therefore I won’t need life insurance”.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 6, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Then I accepted the promises of my government, who promised me if I gave up sugar, hamburgers and exercised an hour a day, I’d be free of all infirmities and live until they decided I lived enough..

Trey November 6, 2011 at 12:09 am

Another heretic, Freeman Dyson, explains the big picture:

“There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. … Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion.”

More of his heretical thoughts at

http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge219.html#dysonf

Gil November 6, 2011 at 12:15 am

Freeing the slaves had nothing to do with freedom but giving power to those who would enslave everyone.

Law & order has nothing to do with justice rather it gives power to those who would use it to create superficial laws to criminalise everyone.

And so forth.

Sam November 6, 2011 at 7:11 am

Though very sympathetic to Ridley’s thesis, that the climate-change science is more religion than science, I am bothered by this self-defeating statement on the first page:

“[Pseudoscience] explicitly claims that there are truths that can be found by other means than observation and experiment.”

The statement is no more provable by scientific means than the most superstitious claim about angels or demons. Science itself rests on a philosophical framework that is itself not provable by science. If Ridley’s statement is to be taken literally, then science itself must be based on pseudo-science.

GAAPrulesIFRSdrools November 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm

“[Pseudoscience] explicitly claims that there are truths that can be found by other means than observation and experiment.”

Taleb really blew that idea to smithereens in “The Black Swan” (drawing from, among others, Hayek). What if the next observation is contrary to all others?

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