Letter from Paul Martz
Rural Economics – February 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine
Well, I’ve tried to read all the way through Lost Landscapes and Failed Economies before pronouncing judgment on it. However, after the first half, I’m still stuck with the same view I had after reading the preface.
This is self-serving propaganda, not science in spite of the author’s declarations. This book demonstrates a guy waxing philosophical on a subject he has no factual knowledge of, but chooses to make illogical assumptions about anyway. The simplest way to understand the fallacy of this whole approach is to take it to a couple of apparent conclusions:
1. Never mine anything, anywhere, because the economic benefits, as calculated by the author aren’t worth it to the locals (meaning himself and others who do not need non-tax supported employment) and the environment.
2. Raw materials come from Mars and that’s why we need to go there — or else the standard of living of the elite might suffer.
The author starts out by saying he wants to persuade readers, not present a factually supported argument that the readers can see the merits of on their own. That’s the first sentence of the book.
He also takes strong exception to the charge that”…advocacy undermines the pursuit of knowledge…” Yes, and Creation Scientists say the same thing.
Where the text says, “Though this book responds to the bias embodied in folk economics…,” the author basically states that the people with experience who live in a place and experience it for themselves are automatically biased and have no rational means for evaluating their own lives. (They are all stupid, and he isn’t.) Then he goes on to prove that we don’t know what’s what, using statements of “fact….” Sure.
While we’re on the subject, “economic science” is an oxymoron if ever there was one. A scientific proposal is only valid if it is supported by fact, be it a repeatable experiment or observation, and if it accurately predicts. Economics does none of these things, but the author assumes it does in hindsight. This making up of definitions reminds me of the revisionist education administrators who tried to make every subject a “science,” i.e. Language Science, in order to improve its cachet with school boards and therefore get more money out of them.
I don’t have time to pick this thing to pieces sentence by sentence (although in a sadistic sort of fashion, it can be fun). And you probably don’t have the time to read the long treatise that would result.
But real progress in knowledge demands that ideas be tested and demonstrated by observation and that results be repeatable. Social engineers like Power, and I honestly apologize to the engineers for using that description, don’t get their work tested the way scientists do, because their ideas are in vogue politically and usually can not be tested.
I am, or was, a scientist, and believe real scientists are interested in the facts, and approaching the Truth as closely as possible. Yes, there are thieves, liars, etc. in science, but they seldom get their ideas glorified because they are politically fashionable at the moment.