Still arguing about the facts on climate change?

Geologist Ian Plimer, who has written a book opposing the idea of human-made climate change, has backed out of a debate on the science with journalist George Monbiot.

But wait a minute. Actually, journalist George Monbiot, who has written a book supporting the idea of human-made climate change, has backed out of a debate on the science with geologist Ian Plimer.

Does this mean they’ve both backed down? Or does it mean they’ve both courageously stood their ground?

What’s going on?

From one perspective, Plimer is peddling ‘24 carat bafflegab’. From another, Monbiot is preaching a ‘secular religion’ and is the high priest of global warming.

Who’s right? Surely, when it comes to scientific facts, ‘Truth is truth to the end of reckoning’  (Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act 5 scene i). Why can’t these people just agree? And why can’t we get to the bottom of why they can’t agree? It’s as though they can’t even agree on what the facts are they’re supposed to be disagreeing about. Each seems to operate as though no matter what is said, the other will twist it to their own advantage because they are acting in bad faith.

If these people would take a look at the claims of Grid-group cultural theory, Continue reading “Still arguing about the facts on climate change?”

Economics – telling stories to anyone who’ll listen

Meika commented on the previous post here about the ability of economists to predict the economic crisis – ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune’. Does this really apply to economists? Well, yes it does and here’s a little anecdotal evidence… Continue reading “Economics – telling stories to anyone who’ll listen”

The financial crisis: Why did no-one see it coming, and why did economists get it so wrong?

Why didn’t the experts see it coming?, asked the Queen of England, and the British Academy wrote a letter to explain. Of the lead up to the global financial crisis they wrote:

“It is difficult to recall a greater example of wishful thinking combined with hubris.”

Meanwhile, economist Paul Krugman asked a similar question – how did economists get it so wrong –  and came up with an answer to do with the difference between salt water and fresh water (apparently one turns you Keynsian and the other turns you neo-classical). Krugman noted the failure  of neoclassical economics to account for the apparent irrationality of the market, and proposed as a remedy the emerging sub-discipline of behavioural economics.

When it comes to the all-too-human problem of recessions and depressions, economists need to abandon the neat but wrong solution of assuming that everyone is rational and markets work perfectly.

Both these approaches – that of the British Academy highlighting wishful thinking and hubris, and that of behavioural economics highlighting cognitive biases – make the great mistake of assuming that there is a single ‘ideal’ rationality,which real humans happen to be incapable of attaining. Continue reading “The financial crisis: Why did no-one see it coming, and why did economists get it so wrong?”