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George Leef adds his excellent thoughts to Phil Magness’s highly critical – yet appropriately so – review of the big myth peddled by ‘historian’ Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. [DBx: I had dinner last evening with Russ Roberts. During the conversation he told me that he stopped reading the 500+ page book by Oreskes and Conway on page four. Despite Russ’s original intention of inviting Oreskes and Conway to be guests on his podcast, EconTalk, by page four Russ could tell that Oreskes and Conway are either so utterly uninformed or ideologically blinkered that “there was no way that a productive conversation could be had about that book.” Those of us who know Russ know that he is remarkably open-minded about views with which he disagrees – that he bends over backwards to interpret such views as generously as possible. Nevertheless, he was unable to do so in this case. This fact alone speaks volumes about the Oreskes-Conway volume.]

Frederick Hess explains that “‘true history’ frequently isn’t.” A slice:

Then there’s the New York Times’ celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, which originally explained that its aim was to displace the “mythology” of 1776 “to reframe the country’s history” and posit the 1619 arrival of slave ships “as our true founding.” (Along with a slew of other stealth edits, this passage was quietly scrubbed from The New York Times‘ website in 2020.) The exercise was rife with inaccuracies, including the startling assertion that the American colonies revolted against Great Britain “in order to ensure slavery would continue” (rousing even the fustiest of scholars to collectively bark, “What?!”). As five eminent historians wrote to the Times, “If supportable, the allegation would be astounding—yet every statement offered by the project to validate it is false.” The project also attributed modern accounting practices to antebellum slavery—although such practices actually date back to Italian banking of the late Middle Ages. The whole thing was too much even for the World Socialist Web Site, which concluded that the exercise was “a politically motivated falsification of history.”

Terrence Keeley applauds Vanguard’s CEO Tim Buckley for resisting the prosperity-destroying fad of EGS investing. Two slices:

“Our research indicates that ESG investing does not have any advantage over broad-based investing,” Mr. Buckley said in a recent interview with the Financial Times. Matching word to deed, his comments came after he had withdrawn his firm from the $59 trillion Net Zero Asset Managers initiative, an organization that is part of the $150 trillion United Nations-affiliated Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. Both alliances are committed to restricting their investments over time to companies that are compliant with the Paris Agreement’s objective of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Mr. Buckley claims the financial world, swept up in climate-change fervor, can’t make such commitments without reneging on its fiduciary duties.


Mr. Buckley also knows that Vanguard can’t promise to be a fiduciary to its clients while also committing to align its assets with the 2050 net-zero target. Signatories to such initiatives effectively commit to reducing their volume of investments in companies not aligned to the Paris Agreement without ever knowing how much of the global economy will be compliant or investable. In other words, being a member of a net-zero alliance requires clairvoyance—something Mr. Buckley, in good conscience, can’t promise. If acts of war or nature force a sudden rethink of the priority given to carbon reduction over energy affordability and reliability, as they’ve done in the past year, the investment universe would no longer reflect how the real economy operates.

Jason Sorens decries the seemingly accelerating trend of governments treating adults like children. A slice:

New Zealand recently passed a law permanently prohibiting the sale of tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009. That’s right. If you’re unlucky enough to have been born on or after that date, it will forever be illegal for you to smoke a cigar on a celebratory occasion or to savor a pipe on a dewy summer evening.

The new law is part of a growing trend in the Western world toward treating adults like children. Even as governments experiment with lowering the voting age to 16, they are raising the age at which we may marry, work, have sex, own a gun, drink alcohol, and yes, smoke. The logic seems to be that young adults are rational enough to make decisions about everyone else’s lives but not their own.

Michael Shellenberger decries California’s pathologies. Two slices:

Now the state has become America’s shadow self. True, it is more prosperous than ever, surpassing Germany last year to become the world’s fourth-largest economy. But Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, and smaller cities are today overrun by homeless encampments, which European researchers more accurately describe as “open drug scenes.” Crime has become so rampant that many have simply stopped reporting it, with nearly half of San Franciscans telling pollsters that they were a victim of theft in the last five years and a shocking one-quarter saying that they had been assaulted or threatened with assault.

These pathologies are just the most visible manifestations of a deeper rot. Less than half of California’s public school students are proficient in reading, and just one-third are proficient in math (with a stunning 9 percent of African-Americans and 12 percent of Latinos in L.A. public schools proficient in eighth-grade math). Education achievement declined precipitously in California in 2021, as the state kept children studying at home well after kids in other states had returned to the classroom. Californians pay the most income tax, gasoline tax, and sales tax in the United States, yet suffer from electricity blackouts and abysmal public services. Residential electricity prices grew three times faster in 2021 than they did in the rest of the United States. And the state government, dependent on income taxes, faces a projected $23 billion budget deficit that will only grow if the nation’s economy enters a recession. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given these trends, California’s population stopped expanding in 2014 and has slightly declined since, resulting in the loss of a congressional seat after the 2020 Census.


Or consider environmental nonprofits. Groups like the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Climate Works often dictate what infrastructure can get built and combine pro-scarcity environmentalism with woke identity politics. For half a century, these neo-Malthusians have blocked new housing, power plants, and water storage and desalination in the state.

Bryan Caplan shares Alex Epstein’s response to Tyler Cowen’s review of Epstein’s Fossil Future. Here’s the conclusion Bryan draws from Tyler C.’s and Alex E.’s exchange:

Furthermore, Alex actually concedes too much to Tyler, since Fossil Future powerfully argues that (a) it’s unclear that the environmental effects of fossil fuels are even gross negatives, and (b) there is overwhelming evidence that – thanks to climate mastery – the net environmental effects of fossil fuels are highly positive. So contra Tyler, there really is no need to water down the subtitle of the book.

Russ Roberts talks with Vinay Prasad about problems with pharmaceutical development in the U.S.

The Wall Street Journal‘s Editorial Board reports on the growing “evidence that those who derided the possibility of a man-made Chinese origin [for covid] were wrong.” Two slices (link added):

The Journal scoop Sunday that the U.S. Department of Energy has concluded that the Covid-19 virus leaked from a lab in Wuhan, China, doesn’t mean the case is definitive. But it is more evidence that the media and public-health groupthink about Covid was mistaken and destructive.


We have since learned that public-health officials wanted to hide that U.S. financial aid to the Wuhan lab may have contributed to the “gain-of-function” research that could have led to the leak. It is a disgraceful episode, like so much of the initial Covid dogma.

Given China’s coverup, we may never know for sure how the virus first struck humans. But Americans deserve to know the facts about the relationship of the U.S. National Institutes of Health to the Wuhan lab and to promoting gain-of-function research. The early deception also needs to be exposed.

Wall Street Journal columnist Allysia Finley writes about how “[t]he public-health clerisy rediscovers a principle of immunology it derided throughout the pandemic.” Two slices:

The Lancet medical journal this month published a review of 65 studies that concluded prior infection with Covid—i.e., natural immunity—is at least as protective as two doses of mRNA vaccines. The most surprising news was that the study made the mainstream press.

“Immunity acquired from a Covid infection is as protective as vaccination against severe illness and death, study finds,” NBC reported on Feb. 16. The study found that prior infection offered 78.6% protection against reinfection from the original Wuhan, Alpha or Delta variants at 40 weeks, which slipped to 36.1% against Omicron. Protection against severe illness remained around 90% across all variants after 40 weeks. These results exceed what other studies have found for two and even three mRNA doses.

This comes after nearly three years of public-health officials’ dismissing the same hypothesis. But now that experts at the University of Washington have confirmed it in a leading—and left-leaning—journal, it’s fit to print.

The Lancet study’s vindication of natural immunity fits a pandemic pattern: The public-health clerisy rejects an argument that ostensibly threatens its authority; eventually it’s forced to soften its position in the face of incontrovertible evidence; and yet not once does it acknowledge its opponents were right.


Recall that the [great Great Barrington] declaration called for a new pandemic strategy with a focus on protecting the elderly and vulnerable while letting those at low risk for severe illness “live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection.” The aim was to minimize deaths and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

While the goal of herd immunity proved elusive as the virus mutated, the declaration’s central premise was correct: “As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all—including the vulnerable—falls.” This is what has happened over the past three years. Vaccines helped mitigate severe illness while people developed stronger natural immunity.

Although the virus has become more transmissible, we’ve built up what experts call an “immunity wall” that prevents it from spreading like a wildfire through a dense, dry forest, as happened in China after Beijing lifted its zero-Covid policy.

Jane who votes tweets: (HT Jay Bhattacharya)

My sons college baseball team was ratted out for a kid running the bases during a HOMERUN and pulling down his mask to celebrate – they were threatened with disqualification by the @NCAA – the whole world went mad and punished the innocent