Geologists may be about to recognize the #Anthropocene: Daily Bullshit, August 28-29, 2016

I’ve been reluctant to put out an issue of the (Almost) Daily Bullshit because I didn’t feel like I had quite enough. I tend to feel it’s a disservice when I promote these entries on Twitter and only have one story in the issue, sometimes even without any commentary whatsoever. And when one is determined to avoid covering the train wreck that passes for a U.S. presidential election cycle this year, one’s choices are limited.


Anthropocene

There is a “strong case” to be made for declaring a new geological epoch, the Anthopocene. Alas, it is built from unmistakable markers of humanity’s dubious impact on earth. “[A]n official expert group . . . presented the recommendation to the International Geological Congress in Cape Town on Monday.”[1]

Damian Carrington, “The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age,” Guardian, August 29, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/29/declare-anthropocene-epoch-experts-urge-geological-congress-human-impact-earth


Brexit

The ‘Brexit’ vote may not be having the economic impact some feared, at least not yet.[2] If it is indeed not, this is yet another disgrace[3] for a discipline in denial of its own ideology.[4]

Josh Zumbrun, “When Economic Doomsayers Stumble: Cautionary Tales From Brexit, Grexit and U.S. Budget Battles,” Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/forecasts-of-brexit-gloom-may-be-overdone-1472406752


Realism

Realism is a political science theory which posits that countries act largely in their own self-interest. It also, at least according to one of my professors (I don’t remember her name) at California State University, East Bay, overlooks non-governmental players: so-called ‘terrorists,’ non-governmental organizations, and others. So while I’m critical of economics for being ideological, I should also emphasize that that field is by no means the only social science guilty of the sin. Realism is probably (again according to that professor whose name I don’t recall) the dominant theory among political scientists and students of foreign affairs. And realism isn’t the only suspect political science theory. And when, in despair, I learned that political science also seemed ideological, it was at a time when I had already concluded that my own field—then communication—was heavily ideological.

Patrick Porter is almost certainly a realist. But he makes a point that no matter what your guiding principle, international law not only fails to advance that cause but may impede it.[5]

Patrick Porter, “Sorry, Folks. There Is No Rules-Based World Order,” National Interest, August 28, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/sorry-folks-there-no-rules-based-world-order-17497


  1. [1]Damian Carrington, “The Anthropocene epoch: scientists declare dawn of human-influenced age,” Guardian, August 29, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/aug/29/declare-anthropocene-epoch-experts-urge-geological-congress-human-impact-earth
  2. [2]Josh Zumbrun, “When Economic Doomsayers Stumble: Cautionary Tales From Brexit, Grexit and U.S. Budget Battles,” Wall Street Journal, August 28, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/forecasts-of-brexit-gloom-may-be-overdone-1472406752
  3. [3]Hites Ahir and Prakash Loungani, “‘There will be growth in the spring’: How well do economists predict turning points?” Vox, April 14, 2014, http://www.voxeu.org/article/predicting-economic-turning-points; Richard Alford, “Why Economists Have No Shame – Undue Confidence, False Precision, Risk and Monetary Policy,” Naked Capitalism, July 19, 2012, http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/07/richard-alford-why-economists-have-no-shame-undue-confidence-false-precision-risk-and-monetary-policy.html; Robert Atkinson and Michael Lind, “Econ 101 is killing America,” Salon, July 8, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/07/08/how_%e2%80%9cecon_101%e2%80%9d_is_killing_america/; Dean Baker, “Discredited Harvard Austerity-Pushers Reinhart and Rogoff Keep Lying to Protect Themselves,” Alternet, April 26, 2013, http://www.alternet.org/economy/discredited-harvard-austerity-pushers-reinhart-and-rogoff-keep-lying-protect-themselves; Ha-Joon Chang and Jonathan Aldred, “After the crash, we need a revolution in the way we teach economics,” Guardian, May 10, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/may/11/after-crash-need-revolution-in-economics-teaching-chang-aldred; Eugenio Facci, “EU austerity hawks shrug off criticism of flawed academic paper,” Christian Science Monitor, May 17, 2013, http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2013/0517/EU-austerity-hawks-shrug-off-criticism-of-flawed-academic-paper; Alan Greenspan, “Why I Didn’t See The Financial Crisis Coming,” Foreign Policy, November, 2013, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/140161/alan-greenspan/never-saw-it-coming; Mike Konczal, “Reinhart/Rogoff-gate isn’t the first time austerians have used bad data,” Washington Post, April 20, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/04/20/reinhartrogoff-gate-isnt-the-first-time-austerians-have-used-bad-data/; Paul Krugman, “How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?” New York Times, September 2, 2009, https://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/magazine/06Economic-t.html; Paul Krugman, “The Austerity Debacle,” New York Times, January 29, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/30/opinion/krugman-the-austerity-debacle.html; Paul Krugman, “Economics in the Crisis,” New York Times, March 5, 2012, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/05/economics-in-the-crisis/; Paul Krugman, “Economics, Good and Bad,” New York Times, June 26, 2012, http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/26/economics-good-and-bad/; Paul Krugman, “Dwindling Deficit Disorder,” New York Times, March 10, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/opinion/krugman-dwindling-deficit-disorder.html; Paul Krugman, “The Excel Depression,” New York Times, April 18, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/19/opinion/krugman-the-excel-depression.html; Paul Krugman, “How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled,” review of The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire, by Neil Irwin, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, by Mark Blyth, and The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, by David A. Stockman, New York Review of Books, June 6, 2013, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/jun/06/how-case-austerity-has-crumbled/; Robert Kuttner, “Austerity never works: Deficit hawks are amoral — and wrong,” Salon, May 5, 2013, http://www.salon.com/2013/05/05/austerity_never_works_deficit_hawks_are_amoral_and_wrong/; Lynn Stuart Parramore, “Meet the 28-year-old Student Who Exposed Two Harvard Professors Whose Shoddy Research Drove Global Austerity,” Alternet, April 18, 2013, http://www.alternet.org/economy/meet-28-year-old-student-who-exposed-two-harvard-professors-whose-shoddy-research-drove; John Quiggin, “Austerity Has Been Tested, and It Failed,” Chronicle of Higher Education, May 20, 2013, http://chronicle.com/article/Austerity-Has-Been-Tested-and/139255/; Dani Rodrik, “Free-Trade Blinders,” Project Syndicate, March 9, 2012,  http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/free-trade-blinders; Paul Romer, “My Paper ‘Mathiness in the Theory of Economic Growth’,” May 15, 2015, http://paulromer.net/mathiness/; Howard Schneider, “An amazing mea culpa from the IMF’s chief economist on austerity,” Washington Post, January 3, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/01/03/an-amazing-mea-culpa-from-the-imfs-chief-economist-on-austerity/; Andreas Whittam Smith, “The age of austerity is over. Why? It doesn’t work,” Independent, April 25, 2013, http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-age-of-austerity-is-over-why-it-doesnt-work-8586201.html; Noah Smith, “Most of What You Learned in Econ 101 Is Wrong,” Bloomberg, November 24, 2015, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-11-24/most-of-what-you-learned-in-econ-101-is-wrong; Cass R. Sunstein, “Why Free Markets Make Fools of Us,” review of Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception, by George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller, New York Review of Books, October 22, 2015, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/oct/22/why-free-markets-make-fools-us/; Mark Thoma, “Are Economists Driven by Ideology or Evidence?” Fiscal Times, November 3, 2015, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2015/11/03/Are-Economists-Driven-Ideology-or-Evidence; Mark Thoma, “The Politics of Economics and ‘Very Serious People,’” July 28, 2015, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2015/07/28/Politics-Economics-and-Very-Serious-People
  4. [4]Jefferson Cowie, “Why Are Economists So Small-Minded?” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 7, 2016, http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Are-Economists-So/235159
  5. [5]Patrick Porter, “Sorry, Folks. There Is No Rules-Based World Order,” National Interest, August 28, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-skeptics/sorry-folks-there-no-rules-based-world-order-17497

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