Sunday, July 31, 2011

Making Predictions About the Future

The price of oil will soar to $200 per barrel. A bioterror attack will occur before 2013. Rising food prices could spark riots in Britain. The Arctic Ocean will be ice-free by 2015. Home prices will not recover this year. But who cares about any of those predictions: The world will end in 2012.

The media abound with confident predictions. Everywhere we turn, we find an expert declaiming on some future trend, concerning nearly every activity. Should we pay much attention? No, says journalist Dan Gardner in his wonderfully perspicacious new book, Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, And You Can Do Better. Gardner is previously the author of The Science of Fear: Why We Fear the Things We Shouldn't—and Put Ourselves in Greater Danger. _Reason
The only thing you can say for certain about the future, is that once it becomes past people will still not be sure exactly what happened. So how stupid is it to predict the future? Ronald Bailey of Reason Magazine thinks it's pretty stupid (via Dennis Mangan):
As oil prices ascend once again, naturally many predict that the end of oil is nigh. Back in 1980, Gardner reminds us, The New York Times confidently declared, “There should be no such thing as optimism about energy for the foreseeable future. What is certain is that the price of oil will go up and up, at home as well as abroad.” By 1986 oil prices had fallen to around $10 per barrel. On the accuracy of oil price predictions, Gardner cites U.S. Foreign Service Officer James Akins, who said: “Oil experts, economists, and government officials who have attempted in recent years to predict the future demand and prices of oil have had only marginally better success than those who foretell the advent of earthquakes or the second coming of the Messiah.”

...In this excellent book, Gardner romps through the past 40 years of failed predictions on economics, energy, environment, politics, and so much more. Remember back in 1990 when Japan would rule the world? MIT economist Lester Thurow declared, “If one looks at the last 20 years, Japan would have to be considered the betting favorite to win the economic honors of owning the 21st century.” Thurow was far from alone. Back in 1992, George Friedman, now CEO of the geopolitical consultancy Stratfor, predicted The Coming War With Japan. Twenty years later, for those hungering for more predictive insights from Friedman, he has recently published, The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century.

...Back in 1968, Ehrlich notoriously predicted in The Population Bomb, “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, the world will undergo famines in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate….”

The famines didn’t happen. And Gardner notes that the world death rate was 13 per 1,000 when Ehrlich wrote his book. Every decade since it has fallen and is now 9 per 1,000 people. “In two lengthy interviews, Ehrlich admitted to making not a single major error in the popular works he published in the late 1960s and early 1970s,” observes Gardner. It is almost not too much to say that Ehrlich has never been right about anything that he has predicted. _Reason_via_DennisMangan
Experts typically suffered academic lobotomies sometime in their careers, which not only leaves them totally amoral as to the effect their predictions may have on real people's lives, but also makes it unlikely that they can ever learn from their inevitable mistakes. No wonder they are so consistently wrong.

And since experts are so highly valued in government, media, and academia, societies which allow themselves to be slapped around by government, media, and academia are going to suffer some hard times -- until they wise up to what they are letting be done to them.

Peak oil doom, climate catastrophe, overpopulation apocalypse, etc. etc. Today's conventional wisdom is a crock of shite. Perhaps it is time for people to learn to think for themselves. But can they still learn to do that?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Finding Nazis in Norway's Closet?

The only conclusion that makes sense to me is that human beings are stuck in a condition of radical uncertainty. Something big and earth shaking is going on around us, but the information we have does not allow us to predict where it all goes. _WRM
Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the Norwegian tragedy and finds Nazis in Norway's closet. Even more profoundly, Mead finds that human nature has always retained the capacity for committing vile and unspeakable deeds, and suggests that the concept of "social progress" is a myth.
When a whole society is stressed by more change than it knows what to do with, the Dark Side gets crowded. People flip out in sects and groups rather than one by one. We see that in many Muslim countries today where the appeal of terrorists is strengthened by a pervasive sense of social frustration. Sometimes whole countries and whole nationalities flip. We saw it in the Bolshevik madness in Russia, the Fascist epidemic that swept Europe in the 1920s and 1930s; we saw it in Iran in 1979. The Serbs and the Hutus went over the edge in the 1990s. _AmericanInterest
Unfortunately, much of the stress that Norway has been feeling, was designed stress inserted by its own governing leaders and cultural overseers. In fact, the social engineers of Norway were trying to accomplish far too many disparate and conflicting goals at the same time, never understanding the underlying stresses that their policies were causing to build.

But Mead looks even more deeply to try to find meaning in the tragedy:
The same technological progress that helps create violent alienation and rage also empowers individuals and groups. 200 years ago a Breivik could not have done so much damage. 100 years ago Al-Qaeda could not have hijacked a plane. Modern society is more vulnerable than ever before to acts of terror, and developments in weaponry place ever greater power in the hands of ever smaller numbers of people.

This is still in early stages. Fortunately Breivik was a traditionalist and relatively low tech mass murderer; he did not hack vital computer systems to wreak murderous havoc with a rail or air traffic control system. He did not poison the reservoirs with weaponized biologicals. He did not even pump poison gas into a subway system.

We can be reasonably confident that an increasingly chaotic and stressful 21st century will generate more bitter nutjobs and place more destructive power in their hands. Democracy and affluence won’t cure it; the same forces that raise those golden arches build bombs to knock them down. _WRM
Europe is at the center of this chaotic cauldron of change, with a shrinking core population deeply in debt and hounded by increasing numbers of violence-prone immigrants being forced upon them by their own governments. Norway's government and culture is in the advance guard of the politically correct leftist multicultural drive to displace western culture and populations with more dysfunctional cultures and populations of the third world. Norway's cultural and political leaders had thought it was safe to move ahead quickly with that agenda, given the relative sedateness of 21st century Norwegian society generally.

But human nature does not change as quickly as political whim would like it to do. Within Norway's core population are many reactive personalities, who will reach a breaking point and strike out against the perceived oppressors. If such a person is reasonably intelligent and competent in the use of weapons, a significant number of this person's perceived enemies may die. But if the person happens to be a world class scientist or technologist who is competent in the ways of profound actuation, far worse things can happen.

The "masters of the universe" -- the clowns in control of western governments -- are intent on pushing their blind ambition of social engineering agenda to the bitter end, no matter what. They are underwritten by special interests with similarly amoral ambition and intent, including the legions of Green dieoff.orgiasts, faux environmentalists, energy starvationists, and other "well-meaning" persons whose agendas could easily and inadvertently result in mass starvation and other forms of mass death.

Individuals who strike out in the manner of the perpetrator of the Norwegian tragedy only make things worse for everyone, just as the well-intended faux environmentalists and leftist multiculturalists are bound to do. There are abundant ways to make things worse, and our leaders intend to explore as many of those ways as possible.

Walter Russell Mead does not think that these forces of chaos -- combined with the technological empowering of individuals to do large-scale harm -- will lead to an apocalypse or doom. But we need to accept that something of the sort may occur, at some level of probability.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Norwegian Tragedy: Violent Outbreak of Simmering Culture War?

Explanatory Note: As a population gets progressively squeezed and harried by destructive political policies and top-down cultural dictates, it is inevitable that some weak links will break. Some unstable minds will come completely undone and commit unforgiveable acts such as what was done in Norway last week. The cause and the blame rest on multiple shoulders, indluding those of the authors of the dysfunctional and counter-productive policies and cultural dictates which helps push the unstable ones over the brink.

The growing polarisation of societies sometimes referred to as "The Culture War" is becoming more difficult to deny, in the wake of the tragic outbreak of violence and mayhem in Norway last week.

Norway has long prided herself on her tolerance to Islamic immigration and global jihad, and has gone out of her way to protect Muslim terrorists such as mullah Krekar. Despite the fact that all the rapes in Oslo over the past 5 years have been committed by outsiders -- non-westerners -- the leaders of Norway have papered over any problems that violence-prone outsiders may have been causing. The leaders of Norway considered themselves safe from Islamic violence, for that reason. But these same national leaders -- appeasers of violent men -- had failed to calculate the potential for a violent blowback from more traditional Norwegians, members of the core Norwegian population who prefer the country to go back to the way it was before the influx of non-assimilable outsiders.
Rank Country of origin[14] Population (2001)[15] Population (2011)[16]
1.  Poland 6,432 60,610
2.  Sweden 23,010 34,108
3.  Pakistan 23,581 31,884
4.  Iraq 12,357 27,827
5.  Somalia 10,107 27,523
6.  Germany 9,448 24,394
7.  Vietnam 15,880 20,452
8.  Denmark 19,049 19,522
9.  Iran 11,016 16,957
10.  Turkey 10,990 16,430
11.  Lithuania 378 16,309
12.  Bosnia-Herzegovina 12,944 16,125
13.  Russia 3,749 15,879
14.  Philippines 5,885 14,797
15.  Sri Lanka 10,335 14,017
16.  United Kingdom 10,925 13,395
17.  Kosovo 0 [17] 13,303
18.  Thailand 3,738 13,293
19.  Afghanistan 1,346 12,043
20.  India 6,140 10,096
21.  Morocco 5,719 8,305
22.  China, People's Republic of 3,654 7,895
23.  United States 7,253 7,853
24.  Eritrea 813 7,728
25.  Chile 6,491 7,708
26.  Netherlands 3,848 7,251
27.  Finland 6,776 6,626
28.  Iceland 3,756 6,022
29.  Ethiopia 2,803 5,805
30.  Romania 1,054 5,670
31.  Latvia 385 4,979
32.  France 2,350 4,289
33.  Burma 63 3,350
34.  Palestinian Territory 64 3,340
35.  Croatia 1,863 3,327
36.  Macedonia, Republic of 789 3,244
37.  Brazil 824 3,017
38.  Serbia 0 [17] 2,987
39.  Ukraine 399 2,918
40.  Estonia 342 2,871
41.  Bulgaria 842 2,693
42.  Hungary 1,666 2,599
43.  Spain 1,382 2,577
44.  Slovakia 207 2,498
45.  Lebanon 1,613 2,476
46.  Italy 1,265 2,230
47.  Congo, Democratic Republic of 276 2,183
48.  Syria 860 2,163
49.  Ghana 1,355 2,116
50.  Canada 1,120 1,680
-1 -1 -1
Wikipedia Immigration to Norway

Norway is a very small country, and relatively homogeneous when compared to the US. Outsiders have a large impact, particularly when unassimilable culturally, and when present in large numbers. Norway's politicians and media can sweep outsider rape of Norwegians and other violence and crime under the rug for so long before blowback occurs.

Politicians such as the leaders of Norway and Sweden often believe that their own people have become too civilised to lash out violently against what their leaders are doing to their societies. Such politicians feel that the power of the laws, the courts, and a general culture of obedience to authority and political correctness will be enough to keep their people submissive to whatever societal changes the leaders may choose to inflict upon them.

The recent bloody tragedy in Norway suggests that there may be a bit of the berserker Viking left in Scandinavian populations, despite the long effort of regressive progressives to tame the spirit of individualism and independence among their core peoples. Regressive progressives of the western left have been generally successful over the past few decades, in using the weapons at their command -- including general control over popular media and news media -- to control their populations in the face of a wide range of provocations. But just as the female domestic partner may use her mastery of language to dominate her male partner for a long period of time, in some cases the other party may resort to his particular skills and competencies to fight back. That is just one example of when domestic violence can occur -- sometimes in a decisive way -- at the end of a long and somewhat lop-sided exchange.

Norway's sad example of bloody domestic violence appears to fit into the above mold. Norwegian citizens who object to a large scale re-arrangement of their country, have been brow-beaten and forced into submission by laws, courts, and politically correct society. They have had essentially no recourse to the course their leaders have set for their nation. But historically, humans have used violence to settle disputes far more frequently than they have used laws, courts, and the use of societal disapproval.

Governments which forget the lessons of history -- that they govern at the consent of their citizens or they do not govern for long -- will be reminded of those harsh lessons sooner or later.
Inside the continental United States, the borders of the "culture war" can be seen by looking at a national election map at county-level resolution.  The red counties lean away from the regressive progressive agenda.  The blue counties lean toward the agenda of government dependency, and shifting the balance of power away from citizens and toward central government.

Civilisations rise and fall based upon the ability of its citizens and organsations to work together toward a common stability, lingua franca, culture, security, and markets.  If the forces of dissolution and neo-tribalisation become stronger than the forces of cohesion, the civilisation will tear itself apart.

What happened in Norway is the sign of a society in the process of tearing itself apart.  The government of Norway, and other leftist European governments, will attempt to double down on the use of laws, courts, media, and popular culture and political correctness, to take advantage of the rare violent episode from the Norwegian nationalist side.   Taking that path will drive their country even deeper into the maelstrom of polarisation, and closer to large scale bloody confrontations.

Marginalising Norwegian traditionalists will result in a hardening of both sides of the culture war.  It will push the crimes of non-western immigrants even further under the media carpet.  It will make it easier for violent jihadists to plan and execute acts of intimidation and murder.  But it is what the dysfunctional Norwegian government -- and the governments of other dysfunctional European nations -- are likely to do.

Despite all the denials, the culture war is very active.  But until now, it had not been particularly violent, except on the part of government agencies enforcing political correctness.

In the US, after the violent Oklahoma City reaction to the government's Ruby Ridge and Waco adventures, came 9/11. After the US Clinton administration had declared "right wing terrorism" as the true enemy, and let down their guard against dangers from global jihadist supremacism, the jihad stepped into the breech and took advantage of the regressive progressive self-blinding. Let us hope that a similar catastrophe does not befall Europe, in its headlong rush to blame its own traditionalists for all of Europe's growing problems of immigration-spawned violence.

More: The perpetrator of the bloody Norwegian massacre also intended to attack oil and gas platforms and a BP oil company base. The man has written a 1500 page manifesto detailing his grievances and his terror plans of vengeance. Fortunately there are not many persons at this extreme in Norway or any other modern nation.

Some persons who have committed mass murders in the past were later found to be suffering from brain tumours or other serious diseases affecting their mental states.

Despite the outlier nature of this event and this perpetrator, the tragedy should be seen as a warning call to the Norwegian government and other European governments who are pressing the politically correct multicultural agenda against the best interests of their native populations. It is often the outliers -- the canaries in the coal mines -- that tell us that something is going wrong. If European governments cannot interpret the meaning of this event appropriately, they are in for a world of pain.