Monday, September 5, 2011
Club of Rome
Back when I first got to University, back in the bleak year of 1972, the smart guys at MIT tossed out a little computer simulation called World3 and a little book called the limits of growth. I was forced by one of my professors to read the damn thing (while an excellent book by my current "old geezer" status, it did not at all fit the worldview of the cocky young jock that inhabited this body in that time frame).
I really can't say that too much of it stuck from that first reading, other than the general idea that things were going to get screwed up sooner or later so I had better do some reaping. Forty years later, I now find that the book is prescient to an alarming degree and that it has been widely ignored all the while.
I still remember the Professor who forced me to read it. He spent the whole time berating the feudal nature of the Mormon church (this was Utah) and letting everyone know that in the new world he envisioned, he would be quite the mover and shaker. Well, it would appear that the Mormons may have been right in ways that he did not seem possible. The semi-feudal nature of their faith and culture will probably do pretty well, though the population growth rates that they espouse will probably test those systems sorely.
Anyway, back to the meander. One of the main methods that folks like us denizens of doomerland use to support our e-Rantings is the liberal use of "scientific" or "academic" studies to support our proposals for fixing the damn mess. But we rarely dig at the research we so freely bandy about. If it supports us and if it has a name with a couple of letters and periods following it, in it goes.
I have, over the years, finished the process of joining that professor with the church he so hated. They are of the same cloth, people who are certain of the rightness of their beliefs and more than willing to go to any length to grab the power needed to make the world aright. The folks at the Club of Rome weren't all that dissimilar from the folks who hung out in Temple Square.
I have watched to many intellectual fads come and go to take any of the science (especially economics) seriously. There are just too many variables for a human brain to keep track of. Models are useful in the sense that they allow "what if's" to be explored. But for the most part, science is a discipline that serves the highest bidder. Just ask the folks who ran around setting up an alternate America in the seventies what they thought when Reagan and the conservatives pulled the rug from under their funding and started funding other "scientists" who agreed with him.
at 5:30:00 AM