SoftestPawn’s Weblog

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New Age Scientist

Posted by softestpawn on October 29, 2008

I recently opened a borrowed New Scientist (18th october). I’ve either just suddenly become even more extremely right wing and not noticed, or the Opinion piece on “Beyond Growth” was possibly the most apalling attempt at spinning envirowoo as ‘science’ it has ever tried (online as Time to banish the god of growth and How our economy is killing the Earth)

There isn’t a single evil economist (whose supposed ‘views’ are being railed against) presented, and no attempt for any reasoned or possibly even practical approaches to ‘preserving’ nature. Some impressive strawmen are presented, naive short-cut assumed effects pop up every other sentence and there’s even an ecologists wet dream (“How we kicked our addiction to growth”) which has scientists running the show and ecologists directing the economy.

The best of all: “What makes us fool ourselves that things have never been better?” Erm. Medicine? Longevity? “Obesity?” Leisure? Comfort? Information? Education? Social access? Geographical access? Plumbing? Preserved parkland? Washing Machines? Aquaducts?

I’ve been wondering whether New Scientist is a bit like New Man; New Man is supposed to be all the things the stereotyped male is not; caring, sharing, non-violent, sympathetic, likes shoe shopping, etc. New Scientist is all the things a stereotyped scientist isn’t: subjective, biased, closed minded, political, etc.

(Edited: spotted Rob Fisher has spent a bit more effort on some of the more obvious silliness)

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3 Responses to “New Age Scientist”

  1. gfish said

    There’s plenty of hyperbole in these editorials but they do have a valid point. Growth for the sake of growth is a strain on the environment and ultimately on us. If we believe that the only good company is a growing one but have no resources to fuel this growth, we’re setting ourselves up for failure and ruining our environment by strip-mining it.

  2. J'owner said

    I’m indignant. Surely the purpose of the editorial column is to set out the ‘official’ stall of the publisher. This one is just an advert for the article. Which is OK, only each time I’ve opened it, it has an embedded moving advert for BMW 7 series cars. Some thing not quite right there.

    What is wrong with scientists running the show and environmentalists running the economy ? I’m sure a few training courses in a nice little hotel near Hastings will give them more than enough by way of new skills and zzzzzzz.

    Why stop there? Ever since banking and the futures market were dreampt up, there has been a side to “the economy” that only exists in the ledgers of those who practice the dark art of double entry book keeping. I’m sure that a bit of digging could find many examples of ‘economic growth’ that are directly resultant from ceasing to consume resources and a reduction in capacity, living stands and quality of life.

    “The economy” is a largely made up thing that exists almost entirely in the collective imaginations of the few persons who are paid by everyone else to look after the ‘money’. It should not be beyond the whit of man to simply ignore/shelve/disestablish this ‘economy’ and concentrate on real things instead.

  3. softestpawn said

    My beef with the New Scientist articles is not just with the content, but that there was no discussion from established economy experts, just a bunch of New Age ‘campaigners’ laying out their own fantasies.

    You might try that digging and see if you actually come up with anything! ‘The economy’ is just the sum of all the real work we do and real things we make, so it grows as a result of us making more and being more effective at work. And it’s got a lot of growing to do given the huge number of poor people in the world.

    For more squabbling, intelligent, scrappy, thoughtful and frequently abusive discussion:

    http://badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6875 Oil Companies

    http://badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6822 Mostly housing

    http://www.badscience.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=6280

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