Economic denialism?

wconnoll Well, the conversation over at Kevin Anderson: how numbers reveal another reality got rather silly and bad tempered, but more than that it also became totally, obviously pointless1. Remarkably, my attempt to enlighten people by pointing out that their attitude to and discussion of economics bore a powerful resemblance to discussions of science at WUWT did not bear fruit.

In other news, the image to the right is my submission for my work pass photo. I’m hoping they’ll use it, even if cropped a little. The image below is prettier but I suspect wouldn’t pass even the cursory scrutiny pass photos get.

Also, I’m looking forward to fun, frolicks and very little death2 in the near future in the Ecrins, so posting will be light for a while.



1. Although there was one bright point.

2. Assuming Trump and the NK nutter can hold off for a while.


* A brief roundup: the BBC and OMICS – ATTP can of course get the science right, unlike Nigel Lawson.
* Dept of Wrong Predictions — No Tricks Zone edition
* IS GREENLAND BURNING? asks VVUWT (I’v corrected the hideous spacing in the headline, though)
* The Axis of Climate Evil
– Paul Krugman in the NYT


66 thoughts on “Economic denialism?”

  1. They don’t understand economics.

    Nobody understands economics. The dumbest of all are those who are certain they do understand economics.


  2. W, inline to mt:

    [You can turn this into a morality issue if you like, but I’m not sure it is helpful. I think it amounts to shying away from the economics; trying to turn it into “you’re a bad person if you don’t agree with me” kind of problem… FWIW, I agree, at some level I agree we do indeed hit warming so high that we’ll kill enough people that it would be morally unacceptable -W

    Economics is sometimes called the dismal science; all the more reason not to shy away from it. If nobody had to pay random, disproportionate, open-ended prices for our ‘free’ fossil carbon emissions, nobody would care about AGW. If no one was hurt by AGW, disputes could all be resolved by negotiation. But people are already being killed, impoverished and dispossessed by AGW. That makes it a moral issue, whatever else it is.

    William, from your response to mt it sounds like you’re saying fewer than ‘enough’ deaths would be morally acceptable, not just economically cost-effective. Do you agree that some number of deaths have already occurred due to AGW? Do you feel that number is morally acceptable? Am I only a bad person if my acceptable number is greater than yours?

    [I think that at the moment measuring deaths from GW would be difficult, because they are mixed in with deaths from “weather”; just as attributing individual storms to GW would be difficult. This is a measure of how not-terribly-bad it is yet. At some future date, if we continue our current trajectory, I would expect this to change.

    But note how one-way your question is: what about the reverse: how many deaths have occurred as a result of efforts to prevent GW? Do you accept that “some number” have occurred? Do you feel that number are “morally acceptable”? -W]

    Damn, AGW is a hard problem. Once again I’m glad I don’t have offspring.


  3. David in #46 seems blissfully unaware that the largest migration n human history is our contemporaries move from rural to urban habitats,- citires now contain more than half of mankind.

    In a further insult to the climate-fearing and cliche’-repeatig classes, new urbanites more often than not move to cities closer to the eqautor than thier place of birth.


  4. JCH
    too funny.
    Remind me once again, what are our favorite topics?
    Yes. Thanks.
    Can pick us all out in there.
    Might even make Stoat smile.
    Stoat, nice picture.
    Fortunately camera lens break around me.


  5. William, any idea why my comment of yesterday is still awaiting moderation?

    [Because I was on holiday, sorry. As to why you were in moderation at all: no idea -W]


  6. Humans are bad enough. How about the rest of the species on this planet? Not a single economy out there, let alone a discount rate.


  7. How about the rest of the species on this planet? Not a single economy out there, let alone a discount rate.

    This is what I don’t get: much of biology is made out of economies (there’s a whole discipline called Ecology for starters), and yet most economists seem to have zero idea about the fundamental set of relationships that pay the bills. By Pay The Bills, I mean a) provide oxygen for those of us who breath, b) feed all the humans on the planet, and c) provide livable environments/moderate climates.

    I find it bizarre that ECOnomics is solely concerned with human financial relationships, while our unbelievably fantastic and generous Growth Economy continues to unsustainably eat away at both “our” biological capital and the very systems that provide food and oxygen. The dismal science indeed…


  8. A number of commenters here are cavalierly sanguine about the impact (or perceived lack thereof) of a 4 °C increase in mean global temperature. To support their optimism they appear to be resorting to analyses that consciously and unconsciously omit a number of parameters as “externalities”, and they assume coefficients for other parameters that are not necessarily based on anything related to empirical reality.

    The biosphere integrates such fluctuations in mean global temperature, and it will do so in the current circumstance – slowly, (or not so), implacably, and with absolutely no regard to the desires of people who wish or hope otherwise.

    Empirical evidence from past events suggests that the magnitude and rate of fluctuation of the current human-caused warming event will have profound biological consequences. The recorded and archaelogical histories of human civilisations similarly suggest that societies are more vulnerable to perturbation than 4 °C warming-optimists posit.

    When it comes to biological calculus, which in the end is the only calculus that matters, I would rather pay attention to the empirical record than the hopes and the Suda-scribbled estimates of folk who are a little too rooted in anthropocentric and egocentric priors.


  9. A coda to the issue of warming…

    There’s a profound difference between the coping ability of humans moving to different temperature regimes (and usually aided by the manifold benefits of fossil-fueled technologies in the process), and the shifting of the planet’s mean global temperature baseline by the same amount.

    Amyone who thinks otherwise is shouting to the world their ignorance of the issue.


  10. Economists Are the New Astrologers |
    | from the A-Star-To-Guide-Us dept. |
    | posted by mrpg on Wednesday August 30, @03:42 (Business) |
    | |

    An Anonymous Coward writes:

    When Christopher Nolan was promoting his previous film Interstellar,
    he made the casual observation that “Take a field like economics for
    example. [Unlike physics] you have real material things and it can’t
    predict anything. It’s always wrong.” There is a lot more truth in
    that statement than most academic economists would like to admit.

    […] several famous Keynesian and neo-classical economists,
    including Paul Romer, […] criticized the “Mathiness in the Theory
    of Economic Growth” and […] Paul Krugman. In this instance, though,
    Krugman is mostly correct observing that “As I see it, the economics
    profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook
    beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth.”

    […] But more fundamentally, as Austrian economist Frank Shostak
    notes, “In the natural sciences, a laboratory experiment can isolate
    various elements and their movements. There is no equivalent in the
    discipline of economics. The employment of econometrics and
    econometric model-building is an attempt to produce a laboratory
    where controlled experiments can be conducted.”

    The result is that economic forecasts are usually just wrong.”

    “[Levinovitz] approvingly quotes one economist saying “The interest
    of the profession is in pursuing its analysis in a language that’s
    inaccessible to laypeople and even some economists. What we’ve done
    is monopolise this kind of expertise.[…] that gives us power.””

    […] because economics models are mostly useless and cannot predict
    the future with any sort of certainty, then centrally directing an
    economy would be effectively like flying blind. The failure of
    economic models to pan out is simply more proof of the pretense of
    knowledge. And it’s not more knowledge that we need, it’s more
    humility. The humility to know that “wise” bureaucrats are not the
    best at directing a market ”

    [0]Economists Are the New Astrologers


    [1]Original Submission

    Discuss this story at:


    [This may be somewhat truer than you know, though possibly not in the same sense as you think. Astrologers – like Copernicus or Galileo – were well aware that their forecasts were worthless. But they produced them to fill demand. I hope you’re not suggesting that many economists are also well aware that forecast isn’t their primary goal; read Popper or Hayek -W]


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