Paul Erhlich’s Greatest Hits


Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

Related Post Roulette

8 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    He’s due!Report

  2. Clint says:

    I’m just glad he convinced us to adopt draconian population control and environmental regulations to avert all of those catastrophes. Also, Julian Simon tells me that Ehrlich puts his money where his mouth is:

  3. catclub says:

    How appropriate -Willful ignorance.

    In politics, it may be true that it is better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

    Not so in science. Better to be spectacularly wrong and know WHY
    than to be right and not know why, or be unable to repeat the prediction
    under changed circumstances.

    Erhlich looked at a lot of exponential curves and made predictions.
    We found out that the behavior was not exclusively exponential.

    You hire a scientist do do two things:
    Tell you his methodology and make predictions based on it.
    To the extent Erhlich did that, (which is where any real
    argument with Erhlich should occur) I have no complaints.

    You would prefer Nostradamus?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to catclub says:

      Well, if there were also scientists who were making predictions using models that happened to be accurate, would I be allowed to prefer them?Report

    • Will in reply to catclub says:

      In much the same way that I don’t hold Malthus accountable for not anticipating the Industrial Revolution, I wouldn’t really hold it against Erhlich for being wrong about population growth three decades ago. His hysterics since then, on the other hand . . .Report

    • Ken in reply to catclub says:

      The problem with Erhlich is that he behaved not merely like a scientist, but like a public polemicist. Had his predictions not been cloaked in such smugness and superiority, history would be more forgiving.Report