"We’ve debated looming debt before, of course, most notably in the Reagan years and again in the early ’90s. But never did the crisis seem so immediate as now."
Evidence? None offered. It's just feels true. Which should set off alarm bells.
Go back and look at those earlier debates and you will find plenty of hair-rising immediacy. "This recession will be a picnic compared to where the country will be in 1997," wrote Senator Warren Rudman in 1992. That same year you can find a book whose title says it all on the New York Times best-seller list: Bankruptcy 1995."That year has marked for me the date of America's fiscal armageddon since I graphed the initial data in 1985," wrote author Harry Figgie, former co-chairman of Ronald Reagan's commission on the deficit, "because the debt and deficit lines goes absolutely vertical from that point on."
But bankruptcy didn't come in 1995 and so, from the perspective of today, the probability that it would, and the fear we felt at the time, are diminished. That's hindsight bias. Its influence in these sorts of debates should not be underestimated.
Over at the website of the Colbert Report, somebody posted some info about Future Babble along with an interview I did. Fine. In fact, delightful. Bless you, anonymous publicist.
But then there are the responses. In addition to some silly stuff -- hey, don't read that book! Read this glib article about Phil Tetlock's work! -- a seemingly informed person objects that it is a "myth" that experts said there would be no war before the First World War. That was a "sensationalized interpretation" of the writing of Norman Angell, who did not, in fact, predict that there would be no war.
What's incredibly frustrating about this is that I actually have a lengthy section on Norman Angell. I say that he is one of the very few experts to really suffer for making a failed prediction. Which is tragic. Because Norman Angell did not, contrary to popular belief, predict that there would be no war.
But what this otherwise astute commenter apparently does not know is that there were, in fact, many other experts who quite explicitly said "there will be no war." I quote several at the beginning of Future Babble. They include the great American economist John Bates Clark, the British historian G.P. Gooch, and the Manchester Guardian journalist H.N. Norman.
And yes, anonymous commenter, it's spelled "Angell." You're welcome.
This is nice: Tom Chivers of the Daily Telegraph says Risk is one of the five best brain science books, alongside classics from Steven Pinker, Oliver Sacks, Daniel Dennett, and Douglas Hofstadter.
I love the company but if it were a dinner party I'd spend the evening wondering, "how did I get invited here?"
Yes, this is yet another one of those "Canada's Economic Action Plan" signs that proudly announce the government's plan to stimulate the economy by spending scads of money on signs proudly announcing the government's plan to stimulate the economy. But this sign is special. It's not outside any old rink, town hall, or bordello. Oh, no. Guess what notorious institution is graced by the presence of this sign?
Hint: It's in Miramichi, New Brunswick.
That's right. This sign is outside the Canadian Firearms Centre. Otherwise known as the long-gun registry. Yes, the long-gun registry the government is fighting tooth and nail to close.
Maybe a sign saying "Stimulate This!" would have been more appropriate.