Tagged: Niall Ferguson

Towards an Epistemology of Uncertainty (the “I Don’t Know” club)

space-timeToday there was an acute overlay of reinforcing ideas when I encountered Sylvia McLain’s piece in Occam’s Corner on The Guardian drawing out Niall Ferguson for deriving Keynesianism from Keynes’ gayness. And just when I was digesting Lee Smolin’s new book, Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe.

The intersection was a tutorial in the limits of expansive scientism and in the conclusions that led to unexpected outcomes. We get to euthanasia and forced sterilization down that path–or just a perception of senility when it comes to Ferguson. The fix to this kind of programme is fairly simple: doubt. I doubt that there is any coherent model that connects sexual orientation to economic theory. I doubt that selective breeding and euthanasia can do anything more than lead to inbreeding depression. Or, for Smolin, I doubt that the scientific conclusions that we have reached so far are the end of the road.

That wasn’t too hard, was it?

The I Don’t Know club is pretty easy to join. All one needs is intellectual honesty and earnesty.