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John F. Kennedy Quote

The free market is a decentralized regulator of our economic system. The free market is not only a more efficient decision maker than even the wisest central planning body, but even more important, the free market keeps economic power dispersed.

ideas > Question all assumptions and scientific pronouncements

Question all assumptions and scientific pronouncements
This past week I learned a very valuable lesson. There are very few scientific certainties in life. What one scientist says is certain often is proved uncertain later in time. On August 5, 2008, scientists announced that they had found an estimated 125,000 Western lowland gorillas in a swamp in equatorial Africa. This was double the amount that scientists had thought existed worldwide. In other words, the estimates that scientists had before were 100 percent wrong. This is a huge margin of error, yet often scientists and especially policy makers act as if they are 100 percent right. Huge amounts of money are spent to combat threats to endangered species and the environment based on estimates that could be completely wrong.

The Earth is an incredibly large, complex system. To assume that a few researchers could accurately estimate the amount of life or the number of species on a planet is rather arrogant. Yet, scientists make these bold projections all the time. Policy makers or politicians that strive for larger, more intrusive government latch onto these dire warnings for the sole purpose of introducing measures that increase their power. They hide behind polar bears, global warming, and the environmental cause of the moment. Here is how the process works.

Like-minded scientists make bold projections. Policy makers, politicians and media declare a major crisis. They offer a solution which leads to less freedom and more government. The problem is that the basic assumption that the scientists are correct is never questioned enough. This news about the gorillas only serves to remind me and others that scientists are often very wrong in what they say. The problem is that most people believe what they are told and do not automatically question the assumptions behind the beliefs. I suspect that the planet is hardier than most big government politicians and scientists would like us to believe. It has survived thousands of years with humans on it and seems to be doing pretty well with 6 billion people on it. But this does not serve big government believers. They need to convince regular folks that there is a crisis, when there really isnít. They are expert at making a mole hill into a mountain. Just because a scientist makes a big pronouncement that the media latches on does not mean that it is true. Question the beliefs. Question the assumptions. Often they are incorrect, but the policies they engender adversely affect our economy and our way of life. They make life more difficult.
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