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August 26, 2004

Ehrlich Again.

Via The Commons I see that Paul Ehrlich is calling for a new panel to assess human behaviour. All of the obvious criticisms can be made, starting with the point that his world view is virtually insane. A rational approach to human behaviour is to work out what it is the humans do, what influences them to do so and then, if you wish to change the behaviour, change those influences and incentives. This is generally known as the social science of economics. The mad professor wants to work out what human behaviour should be first, manadate change from current to the ideal and then declare victory. Sheesh.
There was one interesting point:

Stanford University Professor Paul R. Ehrlich is urging fellow ecologists to join with social scientists to form an international panel that will discuss and recommend changes in the way human beings treat one another and the environment.

Lessee. Economists are social scientists. Ehrlich is suggesting that ecologists should actually meet with and possibly even listen to economists. Would be interesting if I didn't think that the economists would simply strangle the ecologists of the Ehrlich stripe for sheer intellectual blindness. Well, that would be interesting too. However, I have a feeling that that is not what is being proposed. If only we could bring back the late Julian Simon and get him to run the panel.
Another way of describing the inevitable failure of such a project might be:
You can lead an Ehrlich to wisdom but can you make him think?

August 26, 2004 in Environmentalism | Permalink


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