Environmental Ignorance Is Economic Bliss

In The Descent of Man, Charles Darwin wrote that “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.” This single line succinctly describes a recently conceptualized psychological phenomenon called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. David Dunning and Justin Kruger, two researchers from Cornell University, have concluded that there is an inverse relationship between a person’s knowledge and skill level in a particular area and the person’s self-rated ability to perform in the area. Dunning and Kruger argue that people who are unknowledgeable and unskilled at performing an activity are also unable to recognize their own incompetence, which is why they tend to overestimate the quality of their performance when asked to self-evaluate. (Likewise, those individuals who are highly knowledgeable and highly skilled tend to underestimate their performance when asked to self-evaluate.)

The Lurking Inconsistency

Ecological economics of course has roots in ecology and biology as well as in economics. Most of ecological economists’ and steady-state economists’ time has been well-spent correcting economics in the light of biology and ecology. And there is still more to do in this direction. However, we should be careful to avoid importing some deep metaphysical biases frequent in biology, along with its scientific truths.

The surprising conclusion to an important new book

This book demonstrates that empty-world economic theory has failed on its own terms and that its application by policymakers has resulted in the failure of capitalism itself. Pursuing absolute advantage in cheap labor abroad, First World corporations have wrecked the prospects for First World labor, especially in the US, while concentrating income and wealth in a few hands.