Monday, May 19, 2008


I am a regular reader of Dr. Walter Williams. He is the head of the economics department of George Mason University. He writes a weekly column on line. His column can be read at Two weeks ago he wrote about the speculation that has in the past passed for science. These are but a few examples of that speculation he wrote about.

In 1969 environmentalist Nigel Calder warned, “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.” C.C. Wallen said, “The cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.” Paul Ehrlich had several predictions. Among them, in the 1970s hundreds of millions of people would starve to death. Between 1980 and 1989, 65 million Americans would die of starvation. By 1999 our population would plummet to 22.6 million. By the year 2000 England would not exist. I remember also he cancelled his personal life insurance because he didn’t believe the earth would be around when he got old.

In 1975 the Environmental Fund took out full page ads warning, “The world as we know it will be ruined by the year 2000.” In 1939 our own U.S. Dept. of the Interior said American oil supplies would last only another 13 years. In 1974 the U.S.Geological Survey advised us that we only had a 10 year supply of natural gas. According to the American Gas Assn. there is today a 1000 to 2500 year supply. The predictions went on and on with nothing but speculation and the ability to get some one to publish them.

Let’s look at today. More doomsday predictions from wild eyed speculators. This time of course it is global warming. As always it is man caused. Polar bears are dying off. Ice is melting. All manner of devastation awaits us if we don’t listen to these experts and change our ways.

This brings me to the news media. News media should report news that has happened not speculation on what might happen. The garbage that passed for news 30 and 40 years ago was just that, garbage. News reportage today of possible outcomes of global climate change should be on opinion pages not reported as news. People would be wise to remember how such speculation in the past from experts panned out.

It makes me question the validity of experts in general. In any criminal trial both the prosecution and the defense call experts to prove their cases and the experts always see the facts in opposition. Could it be that theirs is just an opinion and it is for sale to the highest bidder? Just a question.

If you follow our economy, you will notice there are always reports coming out with the expert’s guesses of what to expect from unemployment, trade deficit, inflation, and all manner of speculation. Of course when they miss, and that is most of the time, they are surprised. Our financial markets rise and fall on this nonsense. It occurs to me that we would have much more stability in the markets if we just waited for the reports instead of guessing what they will be. Silly me.

So what is my point here? Speculation is not news. Speculation is not fact. Speculation is guessing. These prophets of doom should be seen for what they are and not be taken so seriously. Their opinions have no more validity than yours or mine. Governments should not accept prophecy as reality, and media should not accept it as news. As Dr. Williams asked in his column, what should the government have done 30 years ago to combat global cooling? What should the British government have done to preserve their country? How much should they have spent to deal with these guesses? Just some more silly questions.

Ron Scarbro May 19, 2008

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