We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

There’s a great deal of vanity involved in all of this. Our political elites, encouraged by a priestly caste of experts, love to pose as miracle-workers. To them, and to us who elect them to office, I would every day recite Ormerod’s final dictum: “We may intend to achieve a particular outcome, but the complexity of the world, even in apparently simple situations, appears to be so great that it is not within our power to ordain the future.” Only when this lesson is internalised will we begin to emerge from the age of failure.

Martin Gurri

8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • GregWA

    I think it’s simpler: our experts actually have no real expertise. They have no real understanding of how things work or why. Neither do I but I don’t claim otherwise.

    Some physical scientists have limited understanding of some physical systems, but as soon as you leave mathematics, physics and maybe chemistry (full disclosure: I’m a PhD Physical Chemist), you are in speculative territory. Biology and the lesser physical sciences (lesser in that you need less mathematical or physics expertise to be viewed as an expert) should probably be lumped in with the social sciences in this regard.

    Just my snooty chemist’s perspective!

  • bobby b

    We may look at our “leaders” and “experts” and adjudge them failures because they never seem to attain what they say they hope to attain, but that’s our own failure.

    It’s our failure when we believe them when they tell us what it is that they hope to accomplish.

    When Biden messes up a functioning energy situation, a functioning economic situation, a reasonable virus-handling situation, a functioning transportation sector and a functioning food production sector, we call him a failure, because he didn’t produce what we thought of as the desired goals.

    But if you believe that we cannot make sweeping changes to society in a socialistic globalist direction without undergoing a period of privation and unrest – if we value Biden’s results for the same reasons as do the woke – then they actually are accomplishments.

    By those values and measures, Biden et al. is a success.

    Not saying that Ormerod is wrong, but it’s likely easier to beat his thesis when you’re destroying as opposed to building. It takes more ability to build.

  • Fraser Orr

    I think it’s simpler: our experts actually have no real expertise.

    I think you are rather overstating the case here. The real problem is that the public’s perception of science is bifurcated, either it is genius or it is rubbish. The truth is that it is a spectrum. Some harder science is much more reliable than softer science, but that isn’t to say there isn’t a lot of stuff in the middle which has valuable information and theories even if they aren’t necessarily as reliable as the law of gravity. And to be rather more fair I think it is more accurate to say that no science is black and white, it is all stochastic to some degree, but the precision of measurement varies a great deal from one discipline to another. A perfect example of this is in the recent post here where Bjorn Lomberg “reduce the estimated global temperature rise at the end of this century by all of 0.028 degrees Fahrenheit”. That degree of precision is bananas unless you are talking the standard model of physics.

    Governments tend to depend of pretty soft science, science with very low precision in their predictions. Epidemiology, macro-economics, climatology to name a few. And unfortunately since politics is not a game of maybes of probablies, their precision is ignored and the big headline doesn’t show any error bars.

    The real problem is that we can’t distinguish between the two blokes if they are both wearing a white coat.

    BTW, it is worth pointing out that the hardest of sciences is probably physics, but one has to remember that current theories of physics account for the behavior of about 5% of the stuff in the universe, the other 95% that we suspect, dark matter and dark energy, is dark because we know very close to zero about either. So the zenith of science is “very sure about 5% of the subject matter, clueless on the rest.” That we have built civilizations on this is remarkable…. and I might suggest is due to the pragmatism and genius of the engineer … or so says this snooty engineer.

  • Paul Marks

    As the first comment on the article on “Unheard” makes clear – it is not that government intervention does not “solve the problem”, it is that it makes society vastly WORSE.

    “Vanity”? That does not explain the endless support for Credit Bubble banking, for lending out “money” that does not exist – distorting society more and more. They do no have to know of Richard Cantillon 300 years ago – they can see what Credit Bubble monetary policy (money created from nothing – “money” that is just lights on the computer screens of bankers) does, how it concentrates wealth in a few hands (BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard..), and they do it more and more.

    “Vanity”? That does not explain the lockdowns or the pushing of injections that can cause death, nor does it explain the systematic smearing of Early Treatment for Covid 19. International policy was carefully designed – to do as much harm (harm) as possible. Dissent, telling the truth, attracted censorship and persecution – and it still does.

    “Vanity”? That does not explain the endless increase in government spending and regulations – when the people doing it can see the terrible results.

    “Vanity”? That does not explain the end of the Rule of Law, with the total corruption of the Federal Government “Justice” machine, and its thug Secret Police (the FBI and other such forces).

    They will not stop – they will not stop till they have created an international totalitarian society (“Agenda 2030”, “Sustainable Development Goals” whatever name is used for the evil), of “digital money” and crushing poverty. “Stakeholder Capitalism” (the Corporate State) with anyone who dissents unable to get a job, run their own business, or be able to have a bank account or payment services.

    It is not “vanity” – it is wickedness, human evil.

    They know what they are doing – they can see cities such as Chicago, they know where Progressive policies lead, what the consequences of Progressive policies are.

    This is not the unintended consequences of actions that were intended to be beneficial – they do harm because they want to do harm. And they have barely started – economic decay and mass poverty is going to get vastly worse.

    “No, no, that is impossible – they must mean well” – tell that to yourself when the thugs of the FBI smash down your door and drag you off to be kept in prison (to be abused) for however long the “Justice” system feels like doing.

  • Paul Marks

    It may once have been vanity – when Woodrow Wilson and “Teddy” Roosevelt were campaigning for a bigger and more interventionist government, back in 1912, they may have sincerely believed that it would lead to a better society, rather than their interventions leading to things being worse-than-would-have-been-the-case.

    Progressive books such as “Philip Dru: Administrator” (written by Woodrow Wilson’s “Other Self” Colonel House) are horrific – blatantly totalitarian (like Agenda 2030 and other such things in our own time) – but, YES, the Progressives may (at that time) have sincerely believed, in their vanity, that their interventionism would do good, not harm.

    But not in 2022 – now with all the examples (Chicago, California – and-so-on) in front of the eyes of the Progressives.

    It is not vanity any more – it is something much worse. The desire to do harm – for the joy of doing harm (inflicting suffering).

  • The Pedant-General


    “A perfect example of this is in the recent post here where Bjorn Lomberg “reduce the estimated global temperature rise at the end of this century by all of 0.028 degrees Fahrenheit”. That degree of precision is bananas unless you are talking the standard model of physics.”

    I don’t think that’s the inference of his point. I rather understood him to mean that the _theoretical_ difference that the bill might make will be infinitessimally smaller than can possibly be measured. It just serves to impoverish everyone.

  • Jacob

    Bills are named for propaganda purposes – like the last bill “Inflation Reduction Act 2022”. Names are usually a big lie.
    One thing one can be sure of: The bill will achieve the exact opposite of the stated goals and of those implied by the name.
    And yes. The ability of governments to destroy is much greater than the ability to build (even of building that which they wish).

    So both caveats apply: 1. Their wish or stated goal is usually wrong. 2. The ability to achieve utopian goals is nonexistent.

    Besides, what governments do, the true purpose, is usually propaganda for electioneering and power grabbing (never mind the stated purposes). In these respect, their true goals are usually achieved. (The stated goals don’t matter to them).

  • Paul Marks

    Good comments by Jacob and others – but they do not go far enough.

    Remember the United States is now governed by people who support the sexual mutilation of children – that is a bit more than “vanity”, that is evil. Mr Biden may not know what he meant (and I watched and listened to him) when he said he supported “Trans Rights” for eight-year-old-children – but the people who wrote those lines for him, knew what it means.

    And remember that the leading Corporations, BlackRock, State Street, Vanguard, the banks and the Federal Reserve that creates this accused Credit Money system, are fully on board with the “ESG” (environmental and social governance) system – they support this Corporate Statism.

    That is bit more than “vanity” as well.

    Yes Mussolini (who pushed the Corporate State long before Dr Schwab) was vain – but vanity was not his main fault.

    I repeat the point about the sexual mutilation of children, with which the Corporations (not “just” the government) are fully on board – along with the rest of the “Woke” agenda to destroy the West.

    This is a bit more than “vanity” – this is evil at work in the world.

    The control of the education system (especially at the elite level) by forces fanatically committed to the destruction of Western Civilisation is having an effect. People do not magically forget the evil they have been taught when they leave school and university.

    Yes, a thousand times yes, not everyone who undergoes this process comes out a monster – but some people do. And these are the people now in charge.

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