Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Dismal Junk Scientist

Splendid detective work by blogger Drinking From Home reveals the Brit economist providing "scientific" cover for global warming taxes has a record of lousy forecasting - he "scientifically" predicted Margaret Thatcher would doom the Brit economy!

DfH notes
this piece by Ruth Lea in London's Daily Telegraph:

Economics, albeit more prosaically, has also been subject to fads, whims and consensus views to which history has not been kind.

Twenty-five years ago Britain was at an economic crossroads. The credibility of the British economy was collapsing as inflation and unemployment soared, manufacturing output slumped and the national debt spiralled upwards.

Margaret Thatcher and her Chancellor, Sir Geoffrey Howe, concluded that drastic action was required. Taxes were raised by £4bn (then a huge sum) in the 1981 Budget in order to provide scope for lower interest rates and tackle public sector borrowing. There was, unsurprisingly, substantial political opposition.

But, of more interest, 364 economists signed a letter to The Times stating that there was "no basis in economic theory or supporting evidence" for Sir Geoffrey's policy and that it threatened Britain's "social and political stability". An alternative course of action must be pursued, these savants insisted.

Almost the entire academic economic establishment stood against the Government with a mere handful of brave "mavericks" dissenting from the consensus view.

But, as we now know, the letter's signatories were wrong because they believed in the then ubiquitous, but faulty, Keynesian consensus of the time.

Moreover, not only did the economics establishment regard Sir Geoffrey's Budget as fundamentally flawed, they also took the same view of the mavericks' judgments. This is instructive. Many in academia seem to believe that "peer-reviewed" research guarantees impartial, sound and independent assessment. It does not. Mavericks can be marked down and dismissed by their consensus-minded peers. Dissension is rarely popular.

The story of the 364 economists should be a warning to all who give the impression that the consensus view is an impregnable fortress of truth.

DfH's splendid detective work reveals:
One of the 364 signatories was a certain professor from Warwick University:

Busted!

Still, Stern - like his role models
Heath & Carter - provides a useful function to society by being uniformly wrong. We can now drive our SUVs, fly, and keep warm in winter safe in the knowledge that it won't make a blind bit of difference to global warming.