Using evolution to rescue Economics

To a large extent Economics may be considered a victim of its success. No other branch of the social sciences has such marketability. No one takes their PhD in Sociology or Paleoanthropology to a six-figure job at Chase. Unfortunately, firms might fare just as well hiring sociologists, or for that matter astrologers, to build predictive economic models. In short, Economics doesn’t work.

New ways of viewing economic activity are beginning to make an impact on Economics, but they are not really new, nor are they based on Economics. The assumptions that underlie the rest of the biological world are beginning to seep into our understanding of both economic and political activity. Whether Economists will be able to incorporate these insights before the discipline implodes is an open question with a lot of money at stake.

We’ve generally understood since the ‘50’s that Economics doesn’t work as a method for predicting outcomes. It’s a problem that Milton Friedman wrestled with to an infamous conclusion. The problem is this – the assumptions traditionally necessary to reduce the complexity of human interaction into a manageable predictive model are so absurdly reductive that the model itself will always be flawed.

Friedman confronted and recognized this problem. By then, economists were coming to understand that the discipline was useful as a general social science or philosophy, but lacked the capacity for precision necessary for it to be treated like engineering or physics. Then, in the manner of a man born for politics, Friedman waved a rhetorical hand over the problem and declared that the flaws in the models didn’t matter.

Why don’t the flawed assumptions that lay at the foundations of our economic models necessarily invalidate any calculations based on them? Because they don’t, so shut up.

He used more words than that, and then added some equations on top, but that’s about what it amounted to. Here’s the relevant quote, “Truly important and significant hypotheses will be found to have “assumptions” that are wildly inaccurate descriptive representations of reality, and, in general, the more significant the theory, the more unrealistic the assumptions.” So, yea, all my conclusions are based on assumptions I dreamed up in order in to reach those conclusions, but look how cool those conclusions are!

It took a very long time for this approach to take hold in academia, but over time the gullibility of many business executives helped tip the scales. By pouring money into economic modelling without much concern for the quality of the predictions that emerged, business helped build an Economics establishment that embraced Friedman’s assumptions.

Corporations provided a unique breeding ground for this kind of chicanery. It was (is) an atmosphere in which rewards are highly concentrated and failures are diffused. Whatever guesses looked prescient brought stupendous rewards while the penalties of dumb bets were spread so widely as to slow accountability to a crawl. Even at a crawl, accountability will arrive in time. The longer it takes the more pain it tends to deliver.

As businesses have begun looking outside Economics for more reliable economic insights, Economics is increasingly being exposed to the rigor, standards, and methods of the hard sciences. Scientists from outside the discipline are increasingly looking to evolutionary theory to explain market processes.

We are beginning to discover that building better economic models is not merely a matter of introducing a few lessons learned from biology. Introducing the dynamics of natural selection into Economics does not merely disrupt the mathematical models. Nor does it stop at disrupting the theoretical models. To incorporate evolutionary mechanics into Economics potentially changes our assumptions of what Economics is.

An example can be found in an old MIT talk from Paul Krugman. His wrestling with evolutionary theory, taken from 1996, lays out this problem perfectly. Economics, according to Krugman, is “about what individuals do, not classes, not correlations of forces, but individual actors.” This was the crux of Krugman’s concern at the time with introducing evolutionary mechanics into economic models. The two disciplines simply did not deal with the same subject matter.

Economics treats economies as the sum total of all the decisions made by self-interested individuals engaged in transactions with each other. Evolution on the other hand deals with complex processes that operate at levels ranging from the molecular to the cultural and technological, of which the decisions of a rational self-interested individual are merely a component, and a rather tiny one.

More to the point, one might argue in evolutionary terms that the actions of a self-interested individual are not merely a small factor in understanding an economy, but a resultant factor. Intelligent, considered, self-interested individual decisions may not deserve anything approaching the level of importance economists assign them. Individuals may not be driving an economy, but riding on one. This is not Economics, but it might be what replaces Economics.

Where Economics starts from a set of reductive assumptions drawn from a philosophy – individual human decisions are what matters – then sets a complex series of tottering conclusions on top, sciences that deal with evolutionary processes start from complexity and retain their respect for complexity, building less ambitious predictive models with more fidelity to reality. What they leave out which is essential for Economics as it currently exists is deference to a set of precious philosophical notions about the role and importance of individual autonomy in complex biological processes.

Evolutionary Economics has potential to break the tension between the invisible hand and the regulatory state, looking to more complex models for organization and regulation that can protect us from some of the failures of raw capitalism while preserving our autonomy. By examining what works in the natural world it seeks to build more sophisticated social models that could help us evolve around the obstacles we are creating for ourselves. Getting there will require some philosophical leaps and a lot more scientific work.

Can Economics evolve? Maybe, though so far it remains deeply resistant to the process. Money may once again be the deciding factor. Fifty years of unreliable models are slowly taking their toll. The lure of money that once brought people into the department may be weakening as Wall Street seeks to hire physicists and even biologists.

The uncomfortable philosophical demands of more reliable modeling may require researchers to move the entire subject matter out of the Economics department and into some new field. That transformation may one day relegate what’s left of the Economics department to a windowless space in the basement where they’ll share cramped quarters with that weirdo who teaches Latin. Caveat emptor.

Chris Ladd is a Texan living in the Chicago area. He has been involved in grassroots Republican politics for most of his life. He was a Republican precinct committeeman in suburban Chicago until he resigned from the party and his position after the 2016 Republican Convention. He can be reached at gopliferchicago at gmail dot com.

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Posted in Economics
194 comments on “Using evolution to rescue Economics
  1. bubbabobcat says:

    Wow, you take a sabbatical to spend more of your precious time to feed the ever famished capitalism beast…and not a damn thing has changed here!

    Cappy whines yet again about being “unfairly” labeled a racist for you know, espousing abjectly racist views and beliefs non stop.

    And then he immediately whiplashes and hypocritically knee jerk labels fitty a “Leftist” for daring to call Cappy’s circular firing squad psychobabble for what it really is.

    Ah the irony, the continual unintended clueless irony.

    Fitty a Leftist! I knew it all along dude! No one with half a brain can survive the irrational lunacy of “conservatism”. 😉

    Glad I didn’t miss a beat. 🙂 Bummer I missed a whole bunch of fitty’s musings. I think fitty and I are on opposite hibernation clock cycles or something.

    I thought Cappy and buzzy took a vow of silence?

    Not so much fun repeating “ditto!” ad nauseum on the chrom wingnut echo chanber eh?

    Reminds me of an episode of the old series “Soap” when the family hid the obnoxious alter ego mannequin “Bob” of the loony “Chuck” and he ended up talking through anything he could get a hold of, including a mangled grapefruit as a surrogate mannequin/mouthpiece.

    The Hotel GopLifer. You can check out anytime but you can never leave.

    And Cappy, I take offense to your taking offense to your being awarded the appellation bubba. Eh, you’re not worthy anyway. I worked long and hard to achieve bubba nirvana and earn all that it engenders.

    • CaptSternn says:

      Yes, you definately worked long and hard to get so low and deliberately ignorant.

      FYI, the only “vow” I made was to only post on this blog from my home computer if I post to this blog. I broke it once so far, and I had a reason for doing that. And yoir reading comprehension has not improved. Imagine that.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I think chris took his own vow of silence as a test, to see how we lab rats would act when left to our own devices.

    • bubbabobcat says:

      “Yes, you definately [sic] worked long and hard to get so low and deliberately ignorant.”

      and

      “And yoir [sic] reading comprehension has not improved.”

      You couldn’t possibly be THAT full of unintended irony.

      Entertaining at the very least.

      • goplifer says:

        We can do without the personal stuff. Make an argument. Defend an argument. Doesn’t need to go beyond that.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Incompetence at spelling and grammar definitely implies a tendency toward inadequacy at grasping other simple facts, or at least too much laziness to actually understand them.

      • objv says:

        Owl, are you implying that Hispanics and blacks can’t grasp simple facts or are too lazy to understand them? They score lower on average than whites and Asians on the English portion of various standardized tests.

        Why give Cap such a hard time? It’s obvious that some here like you, JG, and tthor have the advantage of having received a superior education. Others have not been as fortunate.

        Cap’s grammar and spelling has improved tremendously since he met his lovely Tuttabella. You need to cut him some slack. Ask yourself if obsessive attention to detail is a virtue or simply a matter of being stuck in a Freudian anal stage.

        In any case, it’s good for this blog to have a variety of people of different backgrounds as contributors. Let’s not let things get to the point where some might not feel like contributing because their background did not give them the same opportunities.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thanks, OV. It doesn’t matter whether we have a GED or a PhD, common courtesy is the one thing available to us all, and whoever puts that into practice is the true intelligent one.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        In any case, I’d say most of Cap’s spelling mistakes are simply typographical errors.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        obj, that’s an utterly incompetent use of statistics.

        Yes, a lack of education often conveys the inability to grasp simple facts or understand them.

        But a lack of education can come from many other sources than a genetic deficiency. It can also come from long-entrenched prejudice and mis-managed social policies.

        I give Sternn a hard time because he obstinately refuses to learn from his mistakes. As the far wiser and smarter Tuttabella points out, this blog is a fantastic educational resources. Yet Sternn regular wastes his own time here by utterly ignoring the knowledge offered him, and proceeds to waste everyone else’s time with his abject and unabashed idiocy.

      • objv says:

        I’d say so too, Tutt! I’ll admit that my own grammatical errors are due to downright laziness and lack of attention to detail. I could improve and do a better job proofreading as well.

        I hope I haven’t given the impression that I discount the value of a good education. I admire those like Owl who write well and I respect the hard work that went to acquire that ability. It’s just that I feel that sometimes people who for one reason or another don’t have a college degree are looked down upon.

        One of my brothers had a learning disability. He never learned to read and write well despite being promoted each year. It was hard to see him struggling to read even the simplest of sentences. Luckily, he went into a trade where math skills and mechanical ability allowed him to be successful.It was only as an adult that I realized how intelligent he really was.

      • objv says:

        Owl, I disagree with you there. Cap has modified some of his viewpoints over time. Gay marriage is one example.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Owl, please explain what you mean by “genetic deficiency” here.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I do make a lot of typos, but I really just don’t care about them or spelling errors. Nor do I care about the typos, spelling errors or grammar of others as long as I can understand the thought they are trying to convey. To attack grammar, spelling or typos shows that the person doing so is weak and has no real argument.

        Nor do I care how much formal education a person has as that does not reflect on actual intelligence or level of self education or wisdom, the ability and desire to do research and learn.

        But that comes from respect for others, to have an actual discussion rather than just trying to demean and insult them. Though I am guilty of having done that in the past, not over grammar, spelling or typos, but in other ways. In those ways Tutt has opened my eyes.

        Wow, Texans scored a touchdown. Go Texans.

        Well, typed a lot more and deleted it. TMI. Game going into overtime. Go Texans.

  2. tuttabellamia says:

    Jury duty followup: I just received my $6 check in the mail.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Well, “jury week” is over. It was a great learning experience. I came out of there filled with the civic spirit, telling anyone who would listen about my experience, vowing to become more involved in making a difference in my community.

    • objv says:

      Remember to report that $6 on your 2014 income taxes young lady. Before you spend your windfall, you better consider the tax implications first. 🙂

  3. Owl of Bellaire says:

    OT, but a good piece on the echoing effects of our era of stout partisanship:

    http://grist.org/climate-energy/how-should-funders-and-foundations-deal-with-polarization/

    In large part, it’s a companion / response to a paywall-protected piece from the *Stanford Social Innovation Review*:

    http://www.ssireview.org/articles/entry/philanthropy_in_a_time_of_polarization

    The article’s chosen quotes from that piece form a pretty good outline (as you’d expect) of the line of argument:

    “In a Congress with a large number of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans, members were as likely to find allies in the other party as in their own, and they adopted Congressional rules that weakened party leaders and enhanced the opportunity for members to form opportunistic, temporary coalitions.…

    “The loose structure of Congress allowed members to form legislative coalitions in any number of different ways, including partnerships between moderates of both parties, strange-bedfellow coalitions of liberals and conservatives, and alignments of regional or economic interests….

    “Leaders in philanthropy have pursued a vision of social change that rests on a set of long-held assumptions: that strong ideas and persuasive research, coupled with broad public support and validation by elites, will motivate elected officials; that policy proposals designed to reflect the ideological preferences of both major parties, or the poll-tested preferences of centrist voters, can provide a basis for insider bargaining; and that policy entrepreneurs who operate both inside and outside legislative bodies can act as advocates, sources of ideas and information, and mediators….”

    But, the authors point out, as partisan groups adopted self-reinforcing, closed world-views, and with the resultant decline in authority of scientific, journalistic, and other establishment institutions…

    “The country lost the mediating power that these institutions had over public discourse, and in particular their ability to certify basic claims of fact. In their place came media outlets that reinforce polarization in order to profit from it. The center of gravity in the think-tank world shifted from the Brookings Institution—which prided itself on being a ‘university without students,’ with deep roots in academia and with friends in Congress from both parties—to the Heritage Foundation, which was most closely affiliated with conservative social movements and the House Republican caucus. Liberals responded by building more assertively partisan organizations of their own, such as the Center for American Progress. These changes, combined with a broader segmentation of the American media landscape, have resulted in the creation of largely separate, partisan worlds of information.

    “The most mobilized and most attentive citizens now distrust the model of cross-party negotiation. In many cases, they perceive the party opposite their own as extreme, untrustworthy, and even a threat to constitutional government. In the late 1970s, nearly half of all citizens who identified with one party had relatively warm feelings about the other party; today, by contrast, that number stands at less than 20 percent. And it is the citizens with the most extreme views who are most likely to vote, to contribute money to candidates (especially in primary elections), and to participate in grassroots party politics.

    “No issue is immune from partisan fever. Many traditionally non-partisan issues (agriculture policy, infrastructure spending) have become more polarized, and issues that once had small but vital groups of centrist backers (the environment, nuclear disarmament, programs for low-income working families) have lost that support.

    All of which is, of course, just a long-winded way of saying that extreme partisanship is self-reinforcing and universally corrodes the capacity for consensus-building (duh).

    So, the authors ponder, what should extra-governmental, charitable funders and foundations do in such a situation, if they want to effect real change in an environment which has become ultra-partisanly sclerotic?

    “There’s virtually no overlap left between the two sides in America’s culture war, not on policy, not even on basic facts and assumptions. The right has has become insular, hyper-ideological, and contemptuous of the unwritten rules that governed the age of bipartisanship. Positions that were once seen as commonsense or centrist are now exclusively the province of the left.

    “Given that fact, there is no point in center-left funders continuing to pretend that they float above politics like unbiased technocrats free of petty partisan concerns. Putting aside rare exceptions where transpartisan coalitions are still possible, any hope of seeing their policy preferences made law lies in strengthening the left. In other words, they should choose a side…. If you want something done about it, build up a passionate constituency for it on the left. The logic is difficult to escape.”

    Cue witless whining from Sheila and Kitty.

  4. tuttabellamia says:

    Well, it seems the Evolution Revolution is upon us. It’s all the rage, so let’s apply it to economics.

  5. tuttabellamia says:

    Oh, my God, I just looked up the case on which I might have served as a juror, and today the defendant was convicted of burglary and sentenced to 60 YEARS in the TDC. That seems excessive for burglary. I’m guessing the harsh sentence has something to do with his previous record. He has appealed the verdict.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I was thinking just last night how, because someone with a felony record is not allowed to serve as a juror, how this disqualifies a large percentage of the Black, male population, so this results in Black, male defendants being less and less likely to have other Black men on their jury, creating a vicious cycle.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        It is even more vicious when you broaden out the issues.

        Getting a job becomes much more difficult if you have a criminal record. Given the horribly disproportionate way our drug laws have targeted minority members, we have further stacked the deck against folks, making it that much more likely that there will be other criminal activity in the future.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Yes, HT. But could you really discuss such things? Could any of us discuss such things? Or would it fall back to calling people racists?

        Drug laws are historically based on racism, but what about modern enforcement? What about modernn or current statistics?

        True and accurate observations cannot happen without people being calld racists, no real discussion is allowed. That is the reason the way things are will be the way things are and will be.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Oh horseshit, Shiela. HT said not a thing regarding what you just filibustered about. Every thing he said we all agree with, for god’s nsake. Take a breath, Bubba.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Fifty, you are wrong. We always hear that there needs to be a ‘dialogue’ and ‘honest dialogue’ on racism, but it always turns into a monologue with the thesis being if you are white, you are racist so you can’t comment on race. Until that starting point changes, it will never happen. HT is a great example of calling racist to anyone that discusses minorities taking a position opposite of what he deems appropriate. Not to mention the broad brush painting of groups such as the TEA Party as racists. Or Farakhan now saying white people caused Ebola to happen in Africa.

        So all the whining about an honest discussion about race and the effects on society is just BS.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Listen you: Reread HT’s post. Then reread Shiela’s. And you tell me I’m wrong? Don’t be a dork. The last thing we need is another Shiela on this blog.

      • Crogged says:

        So how did we get here? It seems years ago we allowed our judges and members of a court flexibility in dealing with criminal matters. Sometimes they made mistakes. The mistakes which locked up a dude from a poor family for a burglary he didn’t commit for 10 years didn’t get as much publicity as the mistake of releasing a suspect because the police didn’t let him him talk to his lawyer, and after release, committed a murder. Freaking US Constitution, I mean ‘technicality’.

        So for the last thirty/forty years we’ve passed laws, thou shalt serve 50 years you heathen, criminal, committed three criminal acts in your life bad guy. Dope is bad I’m telling you, 30 years for you too.

        And I’m the white guy walking disguised with all you other white guys. I don’t look liberal and I keep my mouth shut, at the golf course, in the bar, wherever I find myself.

        Yeah, there’s no f__g racism anymore, the real problem is people calling other people racists or wanting to change things.

      • Crogged says:

        And to think how often we hear, ‘Smaller GOVERNMENT PLEASE!”

        The link below is Tutt bait……….

        http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/10/02/how-weve-funded-injustice/

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, Crogg-ED, I am a believer in the “less is more” philosophy advocated in the link you posted.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        There’s another problem Crogged. For some reason when you challenge or get involved with talking about race, someone mocks the other by saying ‘there’s no racism anymore’ when no one have even eluded to it. Congratulations you are continuing the monologue.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        We often talk about whether prison is for punishment or rehabilitation.

        I think we should also ask ourselves what the justice system is for — protecting the rights and safety of past and potential future victims, of crime or protecting the rights of those accused of crimes.

        I think both sides — plaintiff and defendant — should be on equal ground, but judicial proceedings seem to lean more towards the prosecution than towards the defense — as if the plaintiff’s right to retribution is more powerful than the right of the defendant to get a fair shake, a truly open day in court.

        Even though the burden to prove guilt is theoretically on the prosecution, I get the impression that the true burden is on the defense to prove absence of guilt.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Just for the record, the defendant in this case in which I got as far as voir dire in the jury process this week, who got 60 years for burglary, is a 49 year-old Black man with a rap sheet going back to when he was 18, consisting mostly of drug offenses, petty theft, family assault, and a parole violation.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        From what I remember, on the jury there were 2 Black ladies, 1 or 2 Hispanic men, a few White men, mostly White ladies. That’s when I realized there were no Black men at that stage in the jury pool from whom to choose.

      • Crogged says:

        I’m not implying you are saying ‘there’s no racism anymore’. I am implying that you believe racism to be a minor issue of no consequence, or something ‘government’ can’t do anything about.

        Thus, we don’t need no stinkin’ set asides, quotas and affirmative action because this is ‘white’ discrimination.

        Now, I happen to believe, for other reasons, that some of those same programs need to be re-examined and re-imagined, but certainly the reason I think they should is because this country has a history of long, extensive, intensive and intentional discrimination which has a huge effect on our culture and society. Whatever we can do to have it disappear, the better off we all are.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        So, this wasn’t exactly an all-White jury, although there were no Black men, since there were none to choose from.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Forgive and forget? Release and absolve? That would work at the city level for municipal violations but in the case of the State of Texas, the legislature would have to “do” something by actually changing the laws, and we the people should “do” our part by electing lawmakers sympathetic to our cause. Somehow I don’t see any Texas governor pardoning en masse scores of offenders, which is the only form of absolution available at the state level, as far as I know.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        At this stage in the game, we can’t just sit back and NOT do anything. We must first fix it, and THEN “Let It Be.”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Cap is always referring to jury nullification. I need to learn more about it, before I present it as an option, no matter how remote.

      • Crogged says:

        The city didn’t do much at all, just waived prior warrant charges for showing up to discuss disposition of traffic tickets and other misdemeanor stuff.

        It’s a snowball effect.

        Municipality which runs general operations derives revenue from ‘victimless’ misdemeanor fines. People on edge of budget get ticket they can’t afford, don’t show up and the fines start racking up. New summons, new warrant. If your budget doesn’t cover 100 dollars is 300 gonna fit? City marks to market the income, ‘look at all the money we’re losing!” from these ne’er do wells. We could hire more police to protect us from them!

        Down and Out in London and Paris and New York and Houston and St Louis and Rural America….

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Haven’t we had similar blanket amnesty-type scenarios for traffic violations here in Houston?

        I think it makes sense to occasionally wipe the slate clean and start afresh every now and then, for practical purposes, but I can’t say I feel too sorry for some people who get themselves into a bind.

        I know from personal experience that some people just flat out procrastinate, blow it off, or choose to spend their money on fancy electronics instead of paying their fines, or if they truly can’t pay, they should at least call to make payment arrangements. Instead, they just avoid the issue and it snowballs for them.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Tutt, you have to keep in mind that many do not even show for jury duty. If you look into the jury pool as a whole in the assembly room, there are all shapes, sizes and colors. Then, the judge limits how many on the pool can be struck without questions. Small trial they are limiited too probably two.

        Crogged, anytime the government starts a program to ‘fix’ something, it never modifies or downsizes. Example: The war of poverty went as well as the war on drugs.

        You can’t use 40 year old societal plans on race in today’s society. It just doesn’t work or fit anymore. It is only abused now.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Really, Fifty? First of all, is this your first day on the internet, or even on this blog? Second, where did I even start to get all dramatic? Third, Kabuzz is correct, we get called racists for being conservatives, for being part of the tea party movement, even for supporting individual liberty and rights. Hell, I didn’t even say HT was wrong or that I disaggreed with him.

        Could we discuss such things openly, really discuss them without being called racists, or other supposed insults like “Shiela” or “Bubba”? You answered that question quite well.

      • CaptSternn says:

        From Crogged’s link – Money that President Clinton earmarked for “community policing” ended up being used by police for zero-tolerance programs like “stop-and-frisk.”

        Hmmm, sounds very much like the suggestion that the federal government funds abortion because it funds Planned Parenthood. Is it that the federal funds went to the zero-tolerance prgrams like stop-and-frisk, or is it that the federal funds freed up other funding for the stop-and-frisk but no federal funds were actually used for such programs? I wonder where the bird is on this one, it would make the fowl’s head implode would be my guess.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Sheila – First off, you are Sheila from now on because you share the same transparent, bloviating rhetorical style. You ignore questions, and hold forth with nauseating gusto on crap that had nothing to do with the topic at hand; all the while completely ignoring any sort of logical consistency or any modicum of respect for your correspondent or the question. . You two, Sheila Jackson-Lee, (and the blogger formally known as Captain Sternn), royally deserve each other. I hope you both appreciate the compliment. Your response to my comment was emblematic of this.

        Lastly, you are a fairly smart, though woefully undereducated, pony-tailed, Ted Nugent wannabe putz with potential – if only you’d get over your asinine assumption that all conservatives are just like you and other deep thinkers like Buzz. It’s embarrassing. Were I you, at your tender age, and so cocksure of my “self-researched”, (hah), ideas that the rest of the world, (by this I mean others that can actually put sentences together, and read entire books), are completely full of shit, I might reassess But then again, who am I to tell Sheila what to do or think?

        You can stay a self-styled, counter-countercultural intellectual lightweight with little more than a big on-line mouth, or you can decide on another path. Pretty much up to you, Bubba.

        (BTW: “Bubba” is sort of an rural endearment to a familiar, and without reference to another correspondent seen previously hereabouts.)

      • Doug says:

        “Cap is always referring to jury nullification. I need to learn more about it, before I present it as an option, no matter how remote.”

        In theory it’s a very simple concept. The purpose of a jury not only is to judge the facts in a case, but also to judge the law. As a juror, you have absolute power (and I would say moral obligation) to vote your conscience even if that flies in the face of the law and the facts in the case.

        In practice you may place yourself in peril because you will be thoroughly grilled about your willingness to lock a guy up for possessing a substance the government has deemed illegal. You cannot be punished for your vote in the deliberation room, but you can be punished for lying during jury questioning.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Again, could we discuss such things openly, really discuss them without being called racists, or other supposed insults like “Shiela” or “Bubba”? You answered that question quite well. Not only that, simply asking if we could do so has caused your head to implode, Not just once, but twice.

        Ah well, I also occasionally get a bit “enthusiatic” in my replies. But then it is usually about a topic, not just a question whether or not a topic could be discussed without heads imploding.

        FYI, name calling is what the left does best. It doesn’t bother me at all, as I have been called much worse. It just demostrates the level of maturity a person has, generally around 2nd grade levels. If you are trying to pretend to be a conservative, try for adult levels of maturity. Thanks.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Captain, we tell the left how they behave and then they use behavior to put us down. That is priceless. Although, I had a higher opinion of Crogged before. I have no idea why he is taking the ‘rage’ approach.

      • Crogged says:

        Thank you Buzz, your opinion of me is exceeds what I want to say regarding you, he shouted angrily.

      • Crogged says:

        Where’s my EDITOR, he screamed!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Poor Crogg-ED (2 syllables) got caught in the crossfire.

      • Crogged says:

        “If he said ‘sardonic’, what complaint could I have?” said the teeth grinder.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        My humble apologies Crogged. I meant that for Fifty. 😦

      • fiftyohm says:

        Disgust and rage are completely different things, Buzz. Disgust can come from disappointment, an observation of wanton idiocy, extreme distaste of or for an idea, as well as a dog turd. Rage is a purely emotional response.

        My feelings for ‘the Sheilas’ fall clearly in the former category.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        So, fifty, Cap is forever branded “Sheila” from now on? Even if just peeks around the curtain to see what’s going on here, just to say hello, or talks about something as benign as what bike he admires, you’ll continue to call him Sheila?

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Fifty, your actions are juvenile and far beneath you. You are just as dogmatic and pragmatic as The Captain but yet he refrains from name calling. He is on the upper road my friend.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Tutt- He’s Sheila when he filibusters and bloviates. In his last comment on bikes he admitted riding a moped and admiring that CanAm Spyder thing. Now don’t get me wrong here – these things are egregious to be sure, but they fall far short of Sheila-level. 😉

        So to answer your question, No. And he can be Cap whenever he stops by to say, “Hi!” (So long as that greeting is not accompanied by a windy and twisted dissertation on racism or the Constitution.)

      • flypusher says:

        “FYI, name calling is what the left does best. ”

        So 50 is a lefty now? Exactly what evidence do you have to support that claim (other than he’s not hesitating to call you out over all your RWNJ bullshitting).

        (Given how well you tend to support your claims, the bar is set really low here, but I see humor potential.)

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sheila screeches, “FYI, name calling is what the left does best…. If you are trying to pretend to be a conservative, try for adult levels of maturity.”

        My God, just how much of an O’Reilly-feltching self-delusive asshole can our *Heavy Metal*-suffused local blowhard actually be?

        Conservatives don’t do immature name-calling?

        Who are the folks who call Mayor Parker “Mayor Porker”?

        Who are the folks who call Democrats “demoncrats” or “demo-rats” or all manner of other childish changes, all with lower-case letters as a final sign of either grammatical illiteracy or puerile disdain?

        Who are the folks who call President Obama “B.O.”, “Bammy”, “Barack Hussein Alinsky”, “Barack Insane Obama”, “Barack Ovomit”, “The Empty Suit”, “The Choom Prince”, “Chimpy the Kenyan”, and more?

        Who are the folks who call Michelle Obama “Moochelle”?

        As usual, Sternn’s, uh, “Sheila”‘s eyes are so blinded by the buttocks of the various right-wing demagogues against whom his lips are firmly planted that he mistakes his own gauzy fantasies for actual, measurable reality. And Buzzy, with his lips firmly welded to Sternn’s posterior like some grotesque conservative parody of the already-parodic *Human Centipede*, has an even worse view of the situation.

      • Crogged says:

        Natural disaster occurs in Houston and Sheila Jackson Lee must meet with Lt Gov Dan Patrick about the response. Fitty is in the room–oh please, put Fitty in the room……..

      • tuttabellamia says:

        My boss’s young daughter had her photo taken with Mrs. Jackson-Lee a few years back at some social function. It must have been an apolitical event, because my boss is Republican.

        It was Halloween, and Baby Girl was dressed in an elephant costume, and when my boss saw Sheila was there, he decided he could not miss this photo-op, so he asked if she would pose with his daughter, who as I said was dressed as an elephant.

        Mrs. Jackson Lee agreed, but told my boss out of the corner of her mouth as she smiled, “I hope this photo doesn’t come back to haunt me.”

      • fiftyohm says:

        Thanks crogged. There go a few nights sleep lost to nightmares of your nightmarish scenario. Thanks alot, Pal.

      • Crogged says:

        Anything to help the newest member of the must be libral cuz I ain’t got anutter word party.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Y’all are funny. By the way, I didn’t say Fifty is a leftist, I said leftists are generally the name-callers. I do sometimes say things to conservatives here about the name-calling, and on the Chron site, asking them not to do it. But that is generally when they are aiming it at others because it is juvenile. Aiming it at me is irrelevant because it just rolls off, and it shows that the person is rather immature.

      • flypusher says:

        “By the way, I didn’t say Fifty is a leftist, I said leftists are generally the name-callers. ”

        You complain about 50 calling you a name, then seg to lefties calling names- that’s a classic technique for implying. And no, you are 100% wrong about lefties having any majority when it comes to name calling. That behavior is very evenly distributed across then political spectrum.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Kabuzz, I was just thinking of that, how some people often blow off jury duty just like they blow off paying for their traffic tickets. They’ll have a cavalier attitude toward the whole process.

      However, choosing to blow off jury duty is different from actually being prohibited from participating in it, to be excluded from the process entirely, even after a person has served their time. I don’t know if I can support that.

      I do have major doubts about the War on Poverty, which is overwhelmed by bureaucracy and often results in abuse, but the same thing has happened with the justice system: people get caught in the overwhelming bureaucracy, and then they can’t extricate themselves.

      Crogged is suggesting the government stand back and be less involved, not more, in cases of law enforcement.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Sometimes I hear people comment about juries being made up of people too stupid to get out of jury duty. I see it as just the opposite, juries come out of groups of people that care about our system and want to do their part to make it work.

        At the same time there are people that really should not be serving jury duty, especially convicted felons. They also lose their right to vote, sometimes permenantly, and their right to keep and bear arms, sometimes permenantly. Could be they are so anti0-authority they would not convict under any circumstances. But they have proven they are trustworthy members of society.

        Shoplifters are also excluded, but I am not so sure that should be the case, especially if it was for under $50 one time. Sometimes they are convicted of shop lifting without having ever taken anything out of the store. Sometimes that is reasonable to an extent, other times it is not.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Sheila softly chides, “They also lose… their right to keep and bear arms, sometimes permenantly [sic].”

        But I thought the right to keep and bear arms simply could not be infringed?

        Oh, right. Hypocrisy is a Republican value.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        Maybe if the convicted convict can keep his or her nose clean for a couple of decades and contribute to society as a whole, his or her case could be reviewed to see if they earned having some of their rights back. That seems a good start.

        I do take exception with convicts who whine about their lack of rights while still continuing their criminal activity.

      • CaptSternn says:

        5th and 14th amendments, bird. Rights can be taken away from a person through due process as punishment for a crime, up to and including the right to life.

        Amendment V – No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

        Amendment XIV Section 1 – All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Interesting link, dear lady. Thanks.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        So, Sternn, you’re saying that “shall not be infringed” doesn’t really mean “shall not be infringed”?

        Or are you too mealy-mouthed and cowardly to admit that for yourself?

    • fiftyohm says:

      Tutt- My only contact with her was an appearance at our daughter’s high school commencement. Her remarks were mercifully and uncharacteristically brief.

  6. BigWilly says:

    Economics. I wish I had more time to study it, but I’ve got my hands full with the CPA for the next 18 mos.

    Somewhere between Hayek and Friedman we end up with Koch style Libertarians. I’m not sure how that happens, but it seems to happen with anything and everything. Christianity, Islam, Phillies fans, somehow the movement dumbs down as it grows. Whatever the intent the practice goes awry.

    Which is why I’ve let my old belief system go through the cycle. It died, and yet it somehow magically was reborn.

    New eyes. What is supply side economics more than the flip side of demand driven economics? I think you could go either way-right or wrong. We’ve just had a big experiment in supply side economics up in Kansas. I don’t know if it’s the disaster that it’s been mad out to be, and I don’t have time to get too deeply into it, but I can see how it will have implications for years to come regarding “conservative” economics.

    You mean…tell us what you mean…we don’t really know.

    Assume.

  7. Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

    I’m no economist (but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express).

    Have economic theories ever been more accurate than they are today?

    Has the complexity of the economy (e.g., more global, more high tech, more service and less manufacturing, more small time investors, more players in general) caused our previously semi-accurate economic models to fall hopelessly out of shape?

    If we are going with economics jokes:
    Man walking along a road in the countryside comes across a shepherd and a huge flock of sheep. Tells the shepherd, “I will bet you $100 against one of your sheep that I can tell you the exact number in this flock.” The shepherd thinks it over; it’s a big flock so he takes the bet. “973,” says the man. The shepherd is astonished, because that is exactly right. Says “OK, I’m a man of my word, take an animal.” Man picks one up and begins to walk away.

    “Wait,” cries the shepherd, “Let me have a chance to get even. Double or nothing that I can guess your exact occupation.” Man says sure. “You are an economist for a government think tank,” says the shepherd. “Amazing!” responds the man, “You are exactly right! But tell me, how did you deduce that?”

    “Well,” says the shepherd, “put down my dog and I will tell you.”

  8. Come on Debbie Downer, turn that frown upside down! On the plus side, predictive economic models are no worse than predictive climate models. 😉

    I refer the student to Gödel’s incompleteness theorems. As a bound to any investigatory experiment the student may wish to conduct, the student may *not* release Prof. Schrödinger’s cat from the box. The proof is left as an exercise for the student. Verschränkung is a booger.

    In all seriousness, the application of deterministic methods to predicting the behavior of natural, complex, chaotic, poorly constrained systems is *bound* to lead to frustration. Save yourself the trouble. Instead, you may wish to dance naked to the beat of bongo drums under a full moon at midnight, whilst sprinkling the moonlit earth with the blood of a freshly decapitated rooster. This alternative method will prove at least as efficacious as the most complex deterministic predictive model.

    • CaptSternn says:

      Was wondering when you would show up. Tutt and I were discussing that this more your cup of tea than most others.

      Well, that was cool. Monday Night Football just did the National Anthem, the Marine band played and the crowd sang it. I remember when the crowd would a;ways sing along at local events.

      Anyway, economics is something I haven’t studied or done much research on. Tutt did some research on Saturday and she seemed to find it interesting. I have a general and broad understanding of it, but not down to details. Think I will just keep a can opener handy, and not an electric one.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        I just had a mental picture of tthor drinking a cup of tea and eating bite-sized sandwiches. Incongruous and funny.

      • Cap, I’m no economist, either. I have done a fair amount of complex mathematical modeling, both in my tenure with Big Oil and in my current vocation. It’s a fundamentally humbling experience, particularly when your’re trying to reduce extremely complex phenomena to a handful of temporally varying, poor constrained variables that are, to some limited extent, amenable to treatment in a mathematical model. Despite the unknowns, you find yourself pressured to provide definitive answers to queries on the basis of which hundreds of millions of dollars will ultimately be risked. And to which your reply must be, if you are truly being honest, “Well, what answer would you like?” (Because with just a handful of poorly constrained model variables, the space of internally consistent answers that can be generated by a complex model is effectively *infinite*.) Based on my own experience, it’s quite difficult for me to express the degree of loathing I feel for those smug climate charlatans who pedal their model results as gospel. The level of intellectual dishonesty inherent is such behavior is mind boggling. I suspect if I were more thoroughly versed in the antics of some economists, I’d feel much the same way towards them.

      • Tea, pinky finger extended, supping on canapés. Oh, yeah, that’s me… LOL. 🙂

      • johngalt says:

        And I’m sure that your loathing for the “climate charlatans” has absolutely nothing to do with your livelihood being dependent on extracting fossil fuels.

        Modeling is hard, requires awesome amounts of data and is a very iterative process. To dismiss the discipline because it often cannot given definitive answers is shortsighted. Were the decisions made using the models with which you dealt even a little better than guesswork? Will they be better still in a few years?

      • JG, my issues with climate alarmists are based on my professional experience as an earth scientist; they have nothing to do with my involvement in the fossil fuels industry. (Bear in mind that even the most draconian climate regulations would have basically zero affect on how I make a living.)

        The thermal basin history models I worked on two plus decades ago were best characterized as “educated guesses”. They were consistent with the available constraining data at the time and the predicted results turned out to be partly correct. (The modelling results proved be fairly accurate in the central Gulf of Mexico, less so in the western Gulf.) With the data available today (including 25 years of deep water drilling) I could do a significantly better job, but keep in mind that I would simply be tweaking the model to matched observed current conditions. That doesn’t necessarily have anything to say about the underlying validity of the model itself (i.e. its accurate portrayal of actual geologic history, which remains murky.)

        Basin modelling actually sheds some interesting light on climate modelling. You can think of a basin model as the inverse of a climate model. In a climate model, we have a fairly good understanding of recent climate history, which we then try to extrapolate to predict the future. In a basin model we have an incomplete understanding of geologic history, which we then try to extrapolate from some point in the distant past to the present. The lesson of basin modelling is that very small variations in initial conditions can result in dramatic departures of the model from the current observed conditions, i.e. the set of “present conditions” that can be extrapolated from the past is infinite, even though only one “real present” actually obtains. Furthermore, with just two or three poorly constrained initial condition parameters, one can readily construct a nearly infinite set of models that will result in a *match* for current conditions. Given the difficulties in extrapolating from the past to the present, it seems only prudent to take a jaundiced view of extrapolation from the present to future.

        Many geologic and atmospheric processes are deeply fractal in nature, i.e. they are subject to the butterfly effect. Climate over time can be mathematically modeled as a strange attractor, which calls into question the legitimacy applying deterministic models to predict future climate. In a thread somewhere below Owl and others reference the classic economics “can opener” and physics “spherical cow” jokes. The same concept applies to the earth and atmospheric sciences in *spades*.

        Take for example the physical phenomenon of turbulence. Glance outside your window at the clouds and you can see turbulence in action. Turbulence affects basically *every* process in the physical world, and yet we have *no* theoretical basis for adequately explaining turbulence. *All* of the equations we use to model turbulence are empirical in nature; they were developed by applying the heuristic method. Given our *deep* lack of understanding of even the most basic phenomena in the physical world, it seems we really ought to take our fancy models with an extra large grain of salt. Just my two cents.

      • fiftyohm says:

        “Will they be better still in a few years?” JG

        Not necessarily. Our old pal Lorenz, (heh), established, as alluded to by Tracy above, the fundamental nature of the atmospheric model. It is entirely possible, (indeed probable), complete knowledge of the initial conditions *can never* be had with precision sufficient to predict climate decades in advance, *even if* an accurate ,model were to be developed.

        Will the position and momentum of an electron one day become ‘knowable’ to arbitrary precision with sufficiently advanced technology, models, or measurements? Ah, nope. Nature isn’t built that way.

      • johngalt says:

        But we’re not talking about predicting the weather years in advance, as in, what will the high temperature be in Houston on Sept. 30, 2028. We’re talking about predicting general climactic trends: how much warming we are likely to see, how variable warming will be, and what the likely consequences are. When one model predicts a 1.8°C rise by the end of the century and another a 4.2°C rise, I’m not going to take either as gospel (nor am I going to average the two). But all the various models are in pretty good agreement that near-term (next 50 years) global temperature changes are not going to have a minus sign in front of them. Our friend Eric Berger at the Chron loves to talk about hurricane tracks using a dozen or so different models. Often these show little agreement, but when they do they are pretty reasonable indicators of whether Katy needs to evacuate.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Not so sure about that, JG. Here’s a pop-sci version of the current issue; http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2014/02/24/the-period-of-no-global-warming-will-soon-be-longer-than-the-period-of-actual-global-warming/

        In your example where one model predicts a 1.8 degree rise, and another 4.2, the spread between the two models is 130% of the absolute value of the lower bound. Such a situation, (and yes I realize it was presented only for the sake of this argument), suggests substantial divergence between the two models. Remember that the sign of the change is arbitrary – that a 0% change is just another data point. Were the actual answer somewhere in between 4.2 and 1.8, the uncertainty in the models is, in fact, greater than the change itself. By this I mean slight cooling could just as well be predicted with another model of equal “validity”.

        I have very little doubt that were you to become a vociferous advocate of ID, bad things could happen to your career. Not all of those things would be a result of the stupid nature of the concept itself. An unfortunate orthodoxy has developed in the climate field that, in large part ignores the limitations of the current models. Were all the models predicting warming within a very narrow range, or were all models, when run from the past to the present, closely predicting current conditions, my personal ‘confidence limit’ would be much higher. But they aren’t, and they don’t.

        It seems entirely reasonable to me that the rate at which humans are dumping CO2 into the atmosphere will have some kind, (and perhaps has had), of effect on the climate. What does not seem reasonable to me is even contemplating moving trillions of dollars around to “stop it*,considering the current state of the science.

      • JG, the same drivers the force uncertainty in weather prediction also raise their ugly head in climate prediction. The farther out you look, the less reliable the model. Realistic confidence bars on *any* climate model would be sobering indeed.

        The good news is that both weather and climate behave much like strange attractors; it may be difficult to impossible to predict the specifics of long term behavior, but we can delineate the system bounds without too much trouble. With respect to sea level and climate over the next several thousand years, we can state with a fairly high probability that sea level will be somewhere between 10-50 feet higher than it is right now and 300-400 feet lower than it is right now. Similarly, Chicago will somewhere between a few degrees warmer than at present and whatever temperature you’d find at the base of a glacier over a half a mile thick.

        We are of course in the midst of an interglacial period. We have a very poor understanding of the factors that drive the onset of a glacial period. Perhaps we might want to devote at little more effort to understanding climate events that would *really* put a hitch in our giddy-up.

      • objv says:

        Tracy, interesting! So would trying to predict climate change be like trying to predict where a hurricane will hit when it’s still a tropical storm off the coast of Africa? Are the climate change alarmists like the good people of Katy who evacuate and clog up the highways? (For the record I lived in Katy nine years and never felt the need to evacuate although a few of my neighbors did.)

      • objv says:

        Tracy, the photo you posted of the Indian motorcycle was fantastic. My husband is also contemplating buying a red Indian (no racial undertone intended). He went to a motorcycle show in Santa Fe, NM a couple months ago and was able to test drive one.

        I might have to do some kind of intervention to get my husband’s motorcycle buying habits under control. I told him that he could have no more than two motorcycles at a time. Now he has four and wants another. He assures me he will sell one. Yeah, right …

        At least we have our car buying under control. He has a fourteen-year-old car and my dependable, little SUV is a 2004 model.

      • That’s an apt analogy, objv.

      • Objv, clearly your man follows the Jay Leno rule: “You can never be too thin, or too rich, or own too many motorcycles. Oh, what the hell, two outta three ain’t bad!”

        All men are entitled to a special dispensation for their motorcycle habit. Just make sure to establishment the equivalent dispensation for the treat of *your* choice. 🙂

      • CaptSternn says:

        So back to “climate change”. Interesting comments on it, and yes, the climate does change. Sometimes, or all the time, up and down. The models are only as good as the people programming and operating them, GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out).

        The problem is a handful of scientists trying to blame human beings and human activity for the changes. Fact is that human activity is insignificant. CO2 is a very minor greenhouse gas, a very small precentage of the total. And human activity contributes a very small percentage to the total CO2 put into the atmosphere per year. So a very small percentage of a very small percentage.

        Then we see the proposed “solutions”, to scale back the top economies, do nothing to developing nations, and redistribute the wealth among the nations. The result is not to even reduce total emissions, just move things around and have people pay more to other people, entities or governments.

        And then, those “experts” that claim human beings are responsible end up saying that nothing we do will really make any difference at all. Go figure.

      • CaptSternn says:

        TThor and OV, if I were to have a motorcycle I think I would want an Indian. Harleys are cool, the Honda Goldwing is really nice, but the Indian has the real personality.

        But, alas, I need four wheels (or six, recently bought a chevy dually) and a cage. I have been in some pretty destructive wrecks that I would not have survived on two wheels.

        Back in my Army days a bunch of us rented mopeds to use on the base. I thought it was great, need a motorcycle, then I wiped out. That was that. I will admire them from inside the cage.

      • And objv, don’t sell those “extra” motorcycles, send ’em to Mr. Varner!

        Maybe my Bonnie will have a second life… 🙂

      • johngalt says:

        Away from the keyboard for a few hours and all these responses…

        First, 50, you make a reasonable point that models that are not terribly predictive are not terribly useful. I still see some confidence in their agreement that it’s getting warmer around here. You suggest that orthodoxy drives some, shall we say, leading assumptions and this is perhaps true for some scientists. But breaking orthodoxy is limited to suggesting, as you do, that the models aren’t very good right now. I don’t see a lot of reputable climate scientists dismissing the AGW idea out of hand. The best ones search for why the models are not right and use their data to improve them. A recent study from Wisconsin researchers suggested that current changes in the Atlantic that occurred around 2000 (and are part of a natural oscillation) may have soaked up a lot of the excess warmth. Is this the answer? Likely only a bit of it, but science moves slowly, but inexorably towards the right answer.

      • johngalt says:

        Tracy, I can comfortably predict that Chicago will not be under a half-mile thick glacier 1,000 years from now, nor will the oceans be more than a few meters higher or lower than now. This is an issue that the deniers often bring up – there are such natural variations in climate, glaciation, sea levels, that what we observe now is just those natural processes at work. But these natural processes operate on time scales of tens of thousands to millions of years. We are seeing a pace of change rather faster than can be explained by non-cataclysmic natural processes.

      • CaptSternn says:

        “But these natural processes operate on time scales of tens of thousands to millions of years.”

        Not so, John. Some 11,000 years ago glaciers covered most of North American and other parts of the world. Then they rather quickly melted, and we have legends of great floods. Just 1,000 years ago we had the Medieval Warm Period, that lasted for a few centuries, and then sudden cooling into the Little Ice Age, which lasted into the late 1800s. Since then we have been coming out of the Little Ice Age, slowly but surely warming up again.

        The changes usually happen rapidly, decades or a century or two at most. Any wonder that most of the graphs that the AGW alarmists present start at the end of the Little Ice Age?

        There is absolutely no evidence that human activity is causing it, or even affecting it in the least amount.

        For that matter, technically we are still in the ice age as we still have glaciers. There are periods where there have been no glaciers at all. There is no evidencde to suggest that won’t happen again, and there is no evidence to suggest glaciers will not return. And there is even less evidence to suggest human beings have any say in the matter.

        Oh, but make this company, this country, pay more for electricity while giving that money to some other country or company. Yeah, that’s the solution.

      • CaptSternn says:

        It’s really just an extension of the left screaming about income inequality, wealth inequality, only taken to a world wide levelm instead of just in our nation, or state, or city. Gee, how can we con people into falling for this? Oh, right, climate change.

        AGW advocates remind me of the guy standing on the street corner holding up a sign saying the world is about to end.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        “For that matter, technically we are still in the ice age as we still have glaciers.”

        Sternn’s idiocy knows no bounds.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Bird, we still have polar ice caps and other glaciers, so we are still in an ice age. When there are no polar ice caps or glaciers, the planet is not in an ice age. The extent of the caps and glaciers vary during ice ages.

        And you claim to be intelligent and educated. You could have and should have done some basic research. Then again, science and reality tend to be out of your scope and understanding.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Oh doctoral-level-climatologist Sheila Sternn, what is your definition of an ice age?

        Oh, I forget: you don’t *do* definitions. It gets in the way of the full span of bloviation. Better to bark while naked of facts, in an utterly imperial lack of clothes, than to in any way impede the full span of movement for such a limited mind.

    • rightonrush says:

      “you may wish to dance naked to the beat of bongo drums under a full moon at midnight, whilst sprinkling the moonlit earth with the blood of a freshly decapitated rooster. This alternative method will prove at least as efficacious as the most complex deterministic predictive model”

      Have you been peeking over my fence? Damn nosy neighbors….

    • Only two kinds of riders, Cap – those who have been down, and those who are going to go down. I joined the ranks of the former long ago.

      Riding a motorcycle is the closest a human being can get to the feeling a dog gets when it sticks its head out of a truck window. That’s an existential joy I won’t pass up. I took a break from scoots when my kids were young, and now I take all reasonable and prudent riding precautions. But I’m not going to pass up on *living* to live a little longer. I’ve most likely seen more than half my days, maybe more than two thirds. For those that remain it’s not the quantity that counts, it’s the quality.

      Both my dad’s and my stepdad’s first bikes were Indians. That’s reason enough for me. 🙂

      • CaptSternn says:

        “Only two kinds of riders, Cap – those who have been down, and those who are going to go down.”

        Exactly. The rest of your post is, “If I have to explain it, you wouldn’t understand.” Thing is that I do understand. I understand the draw, the enjoyment, the feeling of freedom, ride the iron horse.

        In some ways I envy that. In others ways I don’t. I like having wheels and a cage. Maybe someday, and if that day comes, I will be looking for an Indian.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Ok, this might be sacrilegious, but I do like the Canam Spyder.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Not dangerous Shiela – just deeply wussie.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        With regard to a dog sticking its head out of a truck window, I’m just going to leave this right here, without comment:

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, I’m just going to leave this right here, without clicking.

      • objv says:

        Homer, That’s very funny in a sick,sick way. 🙂

        Tracy and Cap, I don’t ride with my husband. I saw too many mangled bodies when I worked as a nurse. Since my husband has faced death three times due to medical problems, it’s more likely that he’ll eventually die from a health issue rather than out on the road. I don’t begrudge him any happiness that he finds on his trips.

        I frequently follow in my SUV with a cooler of food, his extra gear and the two dogs in the back.

        Today I’m taking a road trip to Silverton with a friend. Looks like there’s an *80% chance of snow mixed with rain. I’ll be pacing my winter jacket.

        Tracy, the Leno video is great. I’ll be sharing that with my husband when he comes home tonight. Thanks!

      • tuttabellamia says:

        HT is one sick puppy.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Seriously, though, I am NOT going to click on that video.

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Tutt…it is a classic Saturday Night Live segment, and it can be accompanied by the following statement:

        No actual animals were harmed in the making of the film.

        Hey, we need lots and lots of motorcycle riders – just make sure they are all registered organ donors and their families insist on organ donation.

        They ain’t called donorcycles for nothin’.

      • HH, that was a classic. BTW, I am a registered donor, just in case.

        Motorcycles are relentlessly Darwinian devices – those riders prone to poor judgment in the wearing of protective gear are very same riders prone to poor judgment in riding habits. The consequences resulting from the confluence of these linked tendencies are predictable.

        Cap, my dad quit riding when he was 72. He tipped his ‘Wing over while executing a slow, one-lane u-turn and discovered to his dismay that he was no longer strong enough to pick up the bike. If Can-Am Spyders had been available back then I’m sure he would have just traded the scoot in for a Spyder and ridden until the day he died.

    • Crogged says:

      Fitty, did you read the comments to the Forbes article you posted? Interesting.

      Guys, these are not idiots who are making climate models, they are PhDs uninterested in working for Wall Street. We can sit here (and many many people take a more active role doing this by endlessly sending FOI requests to nerds making math models) and say ‘model climate-what fools’s errand is that for complexity’ and then praise the dudes mapping DNA all we want. No one is modeling ‘weather’, or even just ‘climate’, they are modeling, ‘pouring millions of tons of CO2 into atmosphere for decades and praying to God we don’t have to do a f____g thing about it’.

  9. tuttabellamia says:

    I’ve been released from jury duty. I was rather hoping to be able to serve. I love how precisely and logically the conditions for determining a person’s guilt or absence of guilt are laid out, the beauty of legal terminology, just like poetry.

    • johngalt says:

      I think you would have been disappointed. A lawyer confident of his or her case would try to stack the jury with analytical people, doctors, engineers, scientists. I’ve never made it out of voir dire, which could be a coincidence, but I don’t know too many of my colleagues who have served on panels.

      • flypusher says:

        I’ve never even made it to voir dire. I would love to serve with a case that hinged on DNA evidence, but I know I’d likely be one of the first ones excluded.

        Once one of my grad school classmates got picked for a jury involving claims if malpractice, at least one other person with a bio-medical background was also picked. There was some amazement among the jurors (aren’t we the people who usually get cut 1st?). I don’t recall the details, but they did arrive at a rational and fair verdict.

        Were I on trial, and innocent of the charges, I would definitely want the most intelligent and analytical people I could get to stand in judgment of me.

      • johngalt says:

        I’ve made it to voir dire a couple of times and am always excluded when they read my answers for current occupation and highest level of education. My wife, who has the same job and degree as me, was empaneled and was the forewoman for a case involving a contract dispute a couple of years ago. One lawyer told me that there were some cases in which they tried to get reasonably smart people on the jury if the issues were going to be technical or complex.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I have been picked, or at least not eliminated, on a few occasions to serve on the jury, criminal and civil cases. I found it to be pretty interesting and a little suprising that I would be on a jury considering my appearance (which is what causes some police officers to profile me).

        The jury process is also interesting. Tutt would have made a very good juror as she is intelligent, analytical and very detail oriented. Her boss sometimes refers to her as “the legal department”.

        The thing about jury trials that I like most is that the jury is more powerful than all the police, judges, lawyers, legislatures, governors and even presidents combined. Yes, a convicted person can be pardoned, but they cannot convict the person if that person chooses trial by jury, and the jury also judges the law and may choose not to enforce it.

        I was faced with that possibility last time I got selected due to the mandatory sentence of 25 to life if we convicted the guy. But he got cold feet and made a plea deal before the trial started, so we never left the jury deliberation room until we were dismissed.

        The thing I learned about civil trials is that the jury doesn’t have to be unanimous, 10 out of 12 is a conviction. It ended up being 11 out of 12 with a lone holdout. I will leave y’all to ponder on who could be so stuborn and persistent as to be that one person. 😉

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        Stern…while juries are powerful, they are only powerful within the constraints of what DAs, prosecutors, judges, and lawmakers allow.

        Death penalty cases? Only if the prosecutor pushes for the death penalty (shockingly more often for Black folks than White folks).

        Whether a case even ever gets in front of a jury is based on a dozen different factors, not the least of which is money.

      • CaptSternn says:

        HT, are you being a contrarian just to be a contrarian?

        Yes, a person has to be charged or indicted. Yes, they have to request a trial by jury if they are charged or indicted. Yes, it has to actually go to trial (see my comment above about the guy making a plea deal on the day the trial was to start). Yes, it has to actually get to the point where the jury deliberates and makes a decision.

        Yes, I have been through the process several times, selected on a few occasions. Yes, I work with law enforcement so I know more about it now than I did when I served on juries. And no, most cases will not present any issues that might fall under the category for jury nullification. Yes, there have been times in the past where jury nullification was misused.

        Does that bout cover it for you?

      • johngalt says:

        Yes, juries are all-powerful. Until the conviction is appealed to a higher court, where it is decided by appointed judges (at the federal level).

      • Houston-stay-at-Homer says:

        I try not to be a contrarian, but sometimes it does come out.

        However, there are folks (you included) that use the power of the jury as partial justification for your support of the death penalty, and I would posit that for death penalty issues, the jury is rendered relatively powerless in the grand scheme of things with regard to overall instances of the death penalty.

        For a government that so many people believe cannot do much of anything correctly, there does seem to be a strange belief that the gov’t doesn’t ever get the death penalty wrong.

      • CaptSternn says:

        I see we are still having issues with reading comprehension.

        Yes, John, a conviction can be overturned. But can an aquittal be overturned? And yes, we do have the federal government working to bypass the double jeapordy issue … We do have rights being violated, like the right to choose not not buy health insurance. But that is a violation, not actually lacking the right.

        Notice that no amendments grant rights, only that rights shall not be infringed. The constitution and some amendments grant powers to congress, they do not grant rights to the people.

      • CaptSternn says:

        HT, the government as an entity does not hand down the death penalty. It can only seek it, but a jury has to decide on it. Even then it can be overturned by a goverment entity, but the government entity cannot envoke the death penalty if the jury refuses to envoke it. The goverment entity cannot give life without parole if the jury decides only life. A governor or president can grant pardons, appeals courts can reduce sentences or overturn convictions or order new trials.

        It is the direction that is important. Government entities can reduce or eliminate levels of punishment, not create or elevate levels of punishment.

      • johngalt says:

        Your naive faith in the jury system exposes a shocking lack of awareness of the ways in which government agents rig the jury (grand and otherwise) system, including fabricating and withholding evidence, to arrive at preordained judgements.

        Your lumping the “right” to be a leech on the health care system with actual injustices is rather insulting.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        JG, so, do you suggest we do away with trial by jury just because the odds are stacked against true justice? I say that gives even more value to the jury process. Your cynicism is way worse than our naivete. As Cap says, it’s all about direction. Cynicism leads to defeatism, and giving those dreaded “government agents” what they want. With naivete there is still hope, the will to fight for what’s right.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        And my experience yesterday with jury duty served to remind me of the importance of voting, and how I should not allow my vote to be defeated by my cynicism over politics. Politics can and should be more and better than how the media and blogs portray it. Politics should be more than just bickering about “abortion barbies” and “governor good hairs,” more than a game, a war of words.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Well, John, I hope that when you get the summons for jury duty, you just throw it in the trash and skip it. I hope you treat elections in the same way from now on. You may be a citizen by birth, but you are not exactly citizenship material.

        And let me guess, you actually think human beings cause global warming. Or cooling. Or climate change, whatever the word for the day is.

      • johngalt says:

        I’m tempted to throw the jury summons away, because going downtown to sit in a room for several hours is a waste of my time. Not because serving on a jury is not important, but because I’m never, ever selected to actually serve on a jury, with a record of about 0-10 now, in three different states. But I do my duty, with plenty of reading material, each time I am called.

        You’re right, if a jury acquits you, you’re free. If a jury convicts you, however, that’s just the beginning and I’m glad for this, because there are far too many examples of innocent people being convicted, both honestly and dishonestly. This shows that the jury system is not quite as perfect as you seem to think.

        If you’d like to hear what I think of your opinion of whether I am “citizenship material” I have a colorful anatomical reference I can share. Same goes for your bury-your-head opinion about global warming.

      • CaptSternn says:

        Going to break my vow for this one, John. It doesn’t matter whether or not you actually get selected to sit on the jury. Showing up is the biggest part of the duty. Maybe you get put on a panel, maybe not, but having the people for the panel is of major importance. No people show up for the panel, there is no jury. No jury, no trial by jury. Is it a perfect system, trial by jury? No, of course it isn’t, but it is the best system possible. Is our constitutional republic a perfect system? No, but it is the best compared to everything else.

        What trial by jury means is that the government answers to the people, and the people answer to the people, not the government. It is we, the people, that ultimately run this nation. That’s why we have free speech, right to vote, trial by jury and the right to keep and bear arms. All to often the left seems to want things to be the other way around.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, I was very impressed with the judge in yesterday’s proceedings, with her explanations and the questions she asked of potential jurors to ensure they could remain impartial.

        The potential jurors in the voir dire process, those who spoke up, seemed to be very thoughtful and concerned about doing the right thing.

        I had decided that if I were picked, I would stay off the internet and away from any type of news during the trial, which is estimated to last about 3 days, to keep my mind totally objective. Since I didn’t get picked, I looked up the defendant in the public court records out of curiosity and found that he has a rap sheet a mile long. However, as the judge pointed out to us, just because someone is guilty of a crime the first 10 times, it doesn’t mean he is automatically guilty the 11th time he is accused, and I really took that to heart. We would be looking at the facts of THIS offense and no other. And the burden of proof is on the prosecution.

      • kabuzz61 says:

        I have served on many juries over the years. Both civil and criminal. Even a federal jury. Each time I served my fellow jurors were great people honestly looking to make the right verdict.

        More then anything, I would want a juror who wanted to serve then those who don’t.

        JG, I at first didn’t believe it but then realized you do think you’re the smartest guy in the room wherever you go. You must live a disappointed life.

      • johngalt says:

        The reactions of the lawyers to my voir dire surveys are quite telling. I’ve never even been asked a direct question before being dismissed.

        I am occasionally the smartest person in a room. I try to avoid those situations whenever possible. I like my job because I’m never the smartest person in the room. Well, I am now, but only because I’m alone in my office.

      • Juarez says:

        Capt. wrote: “I found it to be pretty interesting and a little surprising that I would be on a jury considering my appearance (which is what causes some police officers to profile me).”

        Don’t leave us hanging, Capt. Describe your “appearance!”

      • objv says:

        Yes, cap, let us why you would be profiled. Inquiring minds want to know.

        I’ve never been selected as a juror. I found out that if a case is one of medical malpractice, health professionals have almost no chance of being chosen.The reason I was given was that the other jurors would treat the nurse or doctor’s opinion as expert and thus the medical professional’s opinion would carry unequal weight among the jurors. I assume another reason would be that someone working in the medical field might have more sympathy for the health care worker or hospital being sued.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, I’m reminded of a White gentleman who got a new trial because there had been no Black people on his original jury. His lawyer’s reasoning was that there was something regarding his case, or regarding his background, that Black people could identify with, that might make them likely to identify with his plight.

      • objv says:

        OK, Tutt, now I’m even more curious! Although, it’s been said that curiosity killed the cat, so perhaps I better leave well enough alone. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        OV, you’re curious about Cap’s appearance, or about the White gentleman who complained of having no Blacks on his jury? The two situations are not related, by the way.

      • CaptSternn says:

        My appearance? Unshaven, pony tail, Levis and boots, think of a cross between Willie Nelson and John Lennon. Cops look at me and immediately identify me as a pot smoker. That includes many of the cops I work around now.

        On top of that, out on the road, I drive an ugly ’94 Chevy 1500. Lost the front plate a while back and started getting pulled over. Got that issue fixed so cops wouldn’t have that as an excuse. That’s how Tutt found out about being profiled because she was with me. Nothing ever comes from it, they pretty much send me on my way when they find out I have a CHL.

        Well, except for that speeding ticket, but that was because I was speeding. I just paid it, didn’t even bother with defensive driving.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Cap is lucky I like ’em rough around the edges. 🙂

      • CaptSternn says:

        Indeed, as my beautiful dear lady seriously outclasses me. 🙂

    • objv says:

      Tutt: Although I wish you had been given the opportunity to serve, I’m glad to see you back. I always enjoy your comments. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thanks, OV. I’m pretty certain I could be objective on a jury, especially now that I’m older and wiser and not as likely to rush to judgment as I was 30 years ago when summoned for the first time. I am afraid I might have trouble dealing with jurors with stronger personalities who would pressure me, especially if I were the lone holdout on a case that required a unanimous decision.

        I’d have to remind myself that this was about a person’s life/freedom, and that I was OBLIGATED to make the right decision, peer pressure be damned. I believe I would do the right thing in the end, no matter how difficult or unpopular.

        FYI, today was the third time I’ve made it to voir dire, and I’ve been eliminated every time.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        All three times that I made it to voir dire it was for criminal cases. The first was over a sexual offense, the second was a capital punishment case, and today it was a case of burglary.

        I can’t bear to pronounce “voir dire” any way but the French way: “voir” rhymes with “noir” and “dire” is pronounced “deer.”

  10. Anse says:

    I recall the admission by Alan Greenspan in which he said that he did not believe investment banks would act in the ways that they did leading up to the recession of 2008. He admitted that his belief in the rational behavior of market participants was deeply flawed.

    I’m not an economist, but I get the feeling the field is overrun with folks who embrace a particular ethical worldview, and use economics to “prove” their worldview correct. This could be true regardless of the political leanings of the economist in question.

  11. Crogged says:

    You can wonder why you have a headache, or you can take aspirin. Thankfully those who wondered about headaches did give rise to the practical application, the theoretical complements the practical. The doctor didn’t predict your headache, but he knows what to do after it occurs and can lay out some fairly practical responses to the injury.

    A market goes bad (cabbage patch kids anyone?), businesses cut inventory and people lose jobs. People depending on those market participants lose income, they cut inventory and people lose jobs.

    Demand the government, the ‘creator of wealth’ (somebody prints the medium of exchange), do the same. Print less money, cut current spending today because……tomorrow.

    And you drop a dead cat and it bounces.

    • fiftyohm says:

      We should all take Oxycontin for headaches. It works better than aspirin. Of course, it doesn’t address the underlying problem, can cause ‘a few’ side-effects, is addictive, and has long-term consequences, but it solves the headache problem for the moment.

      I know you love analogies, crogged!

    • Crogged says:

      I don’t argue with my doctors, nor do i always (ever?) follow their advice. Oxycontin may work better than aspirin for some headaches, would the failure of one doctor make you not trust any doctors?

      And some doctor’s said, “If you do X then Y will occur.”

      If they were wrong, did they address why they were wrong or did they argue the ‘evidence’ was lacking. Of course there was raging inflation-the stats were rigged!

      Nope. From most of them you read nada. Move on, the dead cat bounced.

      We can ask why a market failed, but when all markets fail we have found a rather simple cure, which does have side effects. Nothing more, nothing predictive, nothing which gets us out of the results of human nature to strive for more, despite the costs. Inflation occurs, raise interest rates. Economy slows, cut interest rates. Economy craters–what?

      I don’t know why a person used a can opener, but it’s pretty clear if many people don’t use them, there are fewer cans being opened.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Were medicine in general not predictive, then no – I wouldn’t trust any practitioner of it.

        Regarding the can opener:

        A physicist, an engineer, and an economist were stransed on a desert island with a single can of beans between them. Discussing how to open it, the physicist carefully calculates the velocity at which the can would have to contact a rock to burst. We suggests they heave it up in the air exactly 27.45 feet and let it hit a rock. They look around, but alas, there is no rock; only sand. The engineer calculates the energy required to heat the can enough to build the internal pressure to pop off the top. He suggests putting it in a fire, but alas, there is no wood on the island.

        The economist steps forward, and with great authority and no small air of condescension says, “First, assume a can opener…”

      • Crogged says:

        Ha, love it. My father was a dual major, math and four years later, petroleum engineering. I read and write shtuff. People furiously and desperately try to drag the practical out of me.

      • johngalt says:

        A former professor (of economics) told me a joke about economists once. If you want to have a sophisticated, engaging and cultured dinner party, invite an economist. If you want it to turn into an uncomfortable evening of bickering and insults, then invite two economists.

      • flypusher says:

        Love the jokes!

        But seriously, regarding JG’s post about 2 bickering economists, the reason I grudgingly (and I mean VERY grudgingly) accepted the whole TARP bailout thing was the lack of bickering from a whole bunch of economists.

  12. Doug says:

    “the assumptions traditionally necessary to reduce the complexity of human interaction into a manageable predictive model are so absurdly reductive that the model itself will always be flawed.”

    One could replace the word “human” with cloud, ocean, atmosphere, land, ice, CO2, sun, butterfly wings, or a hundred other factors and also have true sentence.

  13. johnofgaunt75 says:

    Great article. I need to read more about evolutionary economics. Thanks.

    If anyone is interested in learning more about the history of the development of the rational market hypothesis championed my Friedman and others, may I suggest ‘The Myth of the Rational Market” by Justin Fox. Very enlightening.

  14. johngalt says:

    Recognizing that economics is not that great in predicting the future is a great step forward. Unfortunately, evolutionary biology is also pretty terrible at it. We know that species will continue to evolve and adapt and that things will look different a million years from now, but the details are well beyond us. Two wrongs might make a right, but two disciplines with no ability to predict the future are unlikely to sire Nostradamus.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I know the concept is the same, but at least with economics we’re not trying to forecast the next million years.

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        But evolution relies on a series of largely random inputs.

        And so, ultimately, does economics.

        Wholly accurate prediction ranges from difficult at short time-scales to impossible at longer ones.

        I wonder whether rigorous study will at long last demonstrate that advertising is essentially useless except for purposes of building name recognition. So commercial breaks get shorter… but Steve McGarrett has to choose a drug for his erectile dysfunction, after driving his well-identified car to the PPO-branded clinic. Meanwhile, Ichabod Crane discovers his favorite brand of popcorn, and the NCIS: New Orleans team investigates new vinyl siding for their headquarters….

  15. tuttabellamia says:

    By the way, my inner Owl tells me that the third paragraph from the bottom should begin as follows: “Evolutionary Economics has THE potential to . . . “

    • Owl of Bellaire says:

      Could be. Or it could just be “potential” in the notional, abstract sense. I serve as writing coach for a Vietnamese-born M.D. (trying to both improve her research writing and get into popular-science composition), and her primary sources of frustration with English are the presence or absence of grammatical articles, and when to use singulars or plurals (e.g. “My favorite subject is rainbow” vs. “My favorite subject is the rainbow” vs. “My favorite subject is rainbows.”)

      And I would have called that paragraph the “antepenultimate” one. 🙂

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Thanks. I did wonder how to say “third from last.” Or is it ‘the third from the last?” 🙂

        I guess that also depends on whether it’s specific or abstract.

        “Third from last” – is abstract in this case. “Third” and “last” are nouns.

        “The third from the last” – “Third” and “last” are adjectives. The noun is absent but understood, depending on the context — in this case it’s “paragraph.”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Owl, I understand now why we so often see advertisements for services and products in the singular form: “We specialize in alteration.” — in shops owned by immigrants.

        I can see how “alteration” could be considered the logical, general word to use. It actually makes more sense than “alterations,” but alas, it’s incorrect usage.

        This reminds me of the British way of saying certain terms. We say “drug war.” Britons say “drugs war.” This may also contribute to some of the confusion of Far Eastern speakers.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      Owl, once “potential” is followed by a qualifier, as in “to break the tension” you would have to add “the” — the potential to break the tension.

      By itself it needs no “the.” HE HAS POTENTIAL. Period. Here it’s in the abstract sense.

      Or maybe it’s just about word placement and not whether it’s specific or abstract:

      SHE HAS THE POTENTIAL TO ACT.

      SHE HAS ACTING POTENTIAL.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Well, I guess “the potential to act” refers to a different type of acting and not the dramatic type, so maybe that was a bad example.

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Therefore, I still believe I’m correct with respect to Lifer’s sentence: “Evolutionary economics has THE potential to break the tension.”

      • tuttabellamia says:

        Sorry for rambling.

  16. tuttabellamia says:

    I know next to nothing about economics but I find it fascinating to think of it in terms of other disciplines — to apply principles of evolution, physics, linguistics, and even metaphysics to economics. I’ve spent the last hour or so Googling various applications and combinations — econophysics, econolinguistics, etc. The possibilities are endless.

    • tuttabellamia says:

      I was just telling Cap that being on this blog is incredibly educational, like going back to school, but without the pressure, the attendance requirements, the grades, or the tuition.

  17. rightonrush says:

    I made a C in economics and I’m lucky to have pulled a C. It was all voodoo to me, and honestly I thought it was B.S. I was one of those “individual actors” regarding my business. Which, I might add has been a stunning success because of my East Texas personality (good old boy) and building a very reputable business that many in the M.E. appreciate. I’m honest and that does wonders for your reputation, all around the globe.

    • Tuttabella says:

      Rush, I guess your success depends on the principles of physics — laws of attraction and magnetism.

      • RightonRush says:

        I reckon you’re right Ms. Tutt…. I got that animal magnetism thing going on. 🐒

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Then stay away from my cat. 🙂

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        A massive fire broke out in the faculty housing area for a large university.

        In one home, an engineer awoke to find his bedroom wall covered with flames. Spotting a fire extinguisher, he leaped from the bed, opened the canister up full-throttle until both the extinguisher was empty and the flames were gone, and then went back to bed.

        In the next house over, a physicist was stirred out of sleep by the same situation. Rapidly she jotted down some calculations on a pad of paper at the bedside, took the fire extinguisher in hand, and gave one tight, precise squirt… upon which the entire wall became empty of flames. After carefully poking about in the ashes to ensure her success, the physicist, too, went back to bed.

        One more address down the street, a mathematician was jolted from sleep by the incipient inferno. Sitting up in bed, he cast about the room, spotted the fire extinguisher, shouted “Solution exists!” and went back to bed.

    • johngalt says:

      I double-majored in economics, but it always seemed clear to me that a large part of economics involved assumptions about individual actors with perfect knowledge behaving with rational self-interest. Which one of those assumptions even comes close to describing the real world? People behave en masse in responding to fads, panics, and gossip. They never have a complete picture of anything and are frequently dead wrong in what they do know. And rational? Please.

  18. Bobo Amerigo says:

    Nice essay, Chris.

    My problem with economists — at least those who present charts and talk about them — frequently don’t identify the axes and why they are important in the context of the discussion.

    Then they point to a squiggle on the chart and say something to the effect, “and that’s why I’m right and the other guys are wrong.”

    Other than that, they’re gods.

    Also, some would say that economics does have a predictive model, and it’s called Keynesian.

    • fiftyohm says:

      Quite specifically the Keynesian model is *not* predictive, Bobo. That’s what the piece was about. At least the Austrian/Chicago schools largely recognized the fundamental limits of uncertainty.

      Now Psychohistory! There’s a concept, somewhat ironically similar to what we’re talking here!

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Um-mm.

        And that’s why many of the Austrian persuasion continue to stay what’s needed is austerity.

        It’s been so helpful in the recent past (see state of England’s recovering economy vs ours) and yet they just can’t predict its outcome in the near future.

        Sweetie, you’ve been duped.

      • fiftyohm says:

        Gosh! I never considered that the UK is exactly like us! I never considered Japan, either! I never considered I may have been misled all these years by dark forces.

        Thanks, Bobo!

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        That bombast really works for you.

        🙂

      • Owl of Bellaire says:

        Alas, even Asimov realized that psychohistory was fragile: witness the Mule.

      • Bobo Amerigo says:

        Owl,

        You far outpace me. I’ve read little science fiction. Never heard of The Mule until your post. And then I had to look him up.

  19. RightonRush says:

    Another great blog Chris,

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