Acton Institute Powerblog Archives

Post Tagged 'prediction'

Economist as prophet vs. savior

What do economists actually know? What can they possibly know? Assuming his usual role as the insider skeptic, economist Russ Roberts ponders those questions at length, concluding that far too much economic analysis is conducted and promoted with far too little humility. Continue Reading...

Will the Earth Ever Have Too Many People?

At the beginning of human history, God gave mankind a mandate to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Sometime later—around the 19th-century—people started wondering, “Is the earth close to being filled with humans?” In 1798, Thomas Malthus predicted that if current birth rates persisted, many in Great Britain would starve to death. Continue Reading...

The Low Cost of Being Wrong

In March 2009 the deputy chief of Italy’s Civil Protection Department and six scientists who were members of a scientific advisory body to the Department held a meeting and then a press conference, during which they downplayed the possibility of an earthquake. Continue Reading...

Ignorance, Humility, and Economics

I like Robert Samuelson’s recent column about the difficulty (impossibility?) of accurately analyzing economic reality, let alone predicting its future. Over the past several months a few people, mistaking me for someone who knows a great deal about economics, have asked what I think about the financial crisis, the stock market, the recession, etc. Continue Reading...

Tempering Predictions of Progress

I was reading about Bill Gates’ speech to the Northern Virginia Technology Council last week, which received a lot of media coverage (PDF transcript here). In the speech about software innovation, Gates “speculated that some of the most important advances will come in the ways people interact with computers: speech-recognition technology, tablets that will recognize handwriting and touch-screen surfaces that will integrate a wide variety of information.” “I don’t see anything that will stop the rapid advance,” Gates said. Continue Reading...