Scientific Sense Podcast

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Economist(s)

Economists are odd people. They love numbers and they pretend to make policies with a level of determinism that does not even exist in physical sciences. They will cut, dice and serve numbers onto your plate like the most skilled chef in a Benihana restaurant. And they top that off with colorful charts and interesting conclusions.

A recent article in the grand magazine appears to conclude that the "retreat of democracy," stopped in 2018 (1). This is an amazing observation. In any other professional field, this will raise many questions but apparently not in economics. The first question will be seeking a definition of the phenomenon, "democracy." Sure, this throws a wrench into the neatly tied up spreadsheets used by the authors to make such a fascinating conclusion. The next question is whether we knew if "democracy (whatever that is)," was in decline. To stop the "retreat," one has to imagine the retreat first. Colorful charts and spreadsheets are useful but they typically do not provide any insights. Granted they look beautiful in the glossy paper of the magazine that travels across the world, spewing wisdom,

Let's step back for a moment and revisit the fundamental question of definition. The largest and arguably the greatest democracies of the world elect idiots and religious fanatics. The smaller and older ones that were pushed back into their corners by their "subjects," elect bureaucrats with no understanding of the world. And, across the rest of the world where democracy reigns, they elect those who want to create policies to fragment and concentrate. So, was democracy in decline before and more importantly, have we stopped the decline?

Humans have been democratic before the arrival of the modern variety. The "modern humans," have objective functions specializing in killing, pillaging and domination. This is incompatible with "democracy," as evolved from Greek philosophers. When the brain ruled, humans found interesting ways to tap into the information content of society. This was lost many decades ago when ignorance and materialism enveloped the declining species.

In spite of all the "numbers," democracy was never in decline nor have we "stopped the decline of it" We have not had democracy for hundreds of years.


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