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]

There are experts and there are “experts”

As I work away at a talk I am to give tomorrow evening at Christian Michel’s, I am also, of course, wandering about in the www. And during the latest wandering I was provoked into thinking about another talk, one that I will be hosting rather than giving, on the last Friday of February. Marc Sidwell will, that evening, be speaking about: “Twilight of the Wonks? Promoting freedom in a post-expert world”.

This rather witty cartoon, which I came across here, is very pertinent to Marc Sidwell’s talk, I think:

This cartoon is now to be seen all over
…continue There are experts and there are “experts”

When people cite experts, be careful

So the idea this letter represents mainstream economics must be challenged. When Sky is reporting it without an alternative viewpoint, it can mislead the public. But this also shows something interesting about the political left. People across the political spectrum like to appeal to the authority of “experts” to improve credibility. But for the left, this is crucial. Unlike supporters of markets, left-wing interventionists believe experts can direct economic activity for us. Building up the idea that “experts” support these interventions and believe they work is therefore of critical importance to obtaining public acceptance.

– Ryan Bourne, Institute of Economic
…continue When people cite experts, be careful

An ‘arrogance’ of experts?

They are at it again. Medical experts are advising the state that they should mass medicate the population of Britain against a non-infectious disorder.

Perhaps a ‘totalitarianism’ of experts might be more accurate as Food Standards Agency seem to think it is the super-owner of the bodies of everyone in the country.

The State…and its experts… do not know best

Mad cow disease (vCJD), foot-and-mouth, MMR, salmonella in eggs… the list goes on and on. The reality of life is that no one has a monopoly on insight, intelligence and information. Yet the state would have us believe that in their case when they say something, is somehow of a higher order compared to any other institution or individual. After all, it that was not the case, how could the fact the state backs its views with the threat of violence be justified?

Yet time and time again we are told in patronising tones that the state’s experts know best,
…continue The State…and its experts… do not know best

Celebrity experts save the world!

I am trying not to laugh as I watch rock musician Bono hold forth on satellite television about issues of Third World debt and so on at the World Economic Forum held in New York. Perhaps we can look forward to getting Britney Spears on the fight against terrorism, Mick Jagger on Aids and Tiger Woods on global warming. I guess I am being irreverent, but what the heck, it’s Friday!

Even unto the 10th generation (depending on what the meaning of ‘is’ is)

Elizabeth Warren helped her academic career by claiming benefits available to members of a minority group – in her case, native american. Later it turned out she had no evidence of this. One of her ancestors was a soldier who guarded native americans on the ‘trail of tears’ but there was no traceable first nations ancestry – just (she said) a family legend.

Some people suggested it was fraud and hypocrisy to take minority benefits when you had no evidence you were one. And Donald Trump said he’d pay $1 million to any charity she chose if she could show
…continue Even unto the 10th generation (depending on what the meaning of ‘is’ is)

Boys lead the way

“Boys lead slump in university applicants”, says the Times, like it’s a bad thing.

The first sign that young people are turning their backs on university educa­tion is expected next week when more than a quarter of a million A-level pupils get their results. The exodus is being led by young men, whose applications to university are at their lowest for three years.

The head of Ucas, the universities admissions service, said the number of young people winning degree course places on August 16 is expected to be “in the order of 2.5% lower” than last year.

Some of that
…continue Boys lead the way

The shambles of the European Arrest Warrant system

Damien Phillips, a friend of mine, has an excellent article on why Theresa May’s “Brexit-in-name-only” stance is so bad. One reason, he states, is that it keeps the UK within the odious embrace of the European Arrest Warrant system. So far, the EAW hasn’t been the kind of issue to get most people, even most Brexiteers, exercised. But in many ways it represents some of the worst features of what the EU now is.

As the Daily Telegraph is behind a paywall, here are a few choice paragraphs:

The Prime Minister and the British establishment are simply unwilling to
…continue The shambles of the European Arrest Warrant system

The Gullibility of Cynicism

Under these conditions, you could make people believe the most fantastic lies one day, and if the next day they were presented with irrefutable proof that their leaders had lied, they would take refuge in cynicism: they would protest that they had always known they were lies, and admire their leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.     (‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’, Hannah Arendt)

Arendt states that ideology and terror are two sides of the same coin, preparing people for their two-sided role as persecutor or victim in a totalitarian state. She never quite says – but it is close to the surface
…continue The Gullibility of Cynicism

Is this what a man hired to communicate climate science calls evidence?

As I have said before, I retain a belief in CAGW two-and-a-half letters to the left of most commenters on this blog. But Bob Ward – Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics – is not the first believer in the imminent peril of climate change to have a damn good go at pushing my scepticism-marker to the right. On the LSE British Politics and Policy blog, he writes:

Do male climate change ‘sceptics’ have a problem with women?

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines applies for a
…continue Is this what a man hired to communicate climate science calls evidence?

Exposing your children to peril: then and now

Children in peril! Save them!

Children in poor areas exposed to five times as many fast food takeaways,

reports the Guardian, not that you needed to be told that. (Fun fact: the Guardian‘s name was originally understood to mean “Guardian of our liberties”.)

Increasing numbers of fast food take­aways are springing up close to schools in England, with pupils in the most socially deprived areas exposed to five times as many outlets as their richest peers.

Data provided to the Guardian by Cambridge University’s Centre for Diet and Activity Research (Cedar) shows more than 400 schools across England have 20
…continue Exposing your children to peril: then and now


To the priests of ancient Egypt, the complexity of their writing system was an advantage. To be one of the few who understood the mystery of writing made a priest a powerful and valuable man.

This article, “The EU: Authoritarianism Through Complexity”, is by George Friedman who used to be chairman of Stratfor and now is chairman of a body called Geopolitical Futures.

Reading it made me think that the old term “priestcraft” might be due a revival:

The British team consists of well-educated and experienced civil servants. In claiming that this team is not up to the task
…continue Priestcraft