Home > Metablogging > The new era

The new era

April 17th, 2012

With a lot of changes going on lately, I’ve taken a bit of time to think about the future of this blog. It will be ten years old in June, which makes it one of the longest running Australian blogs (a few, like Catallaxy, are a little older, IIRC, but their archives seem to have been lost). Those ten years have seen the rise and decline of blogging, particularly individual, independent blogs like this one. The XKCD cartoon linked in this Crooked Timber post tells the story.

The writing was on the wall as early as 2004, when I saw lots of my favorite blogs being assimilated by the Borg that became Crooked Timber. Seeing that resistance was futile, I joined the rush, but have kept this blog going with lots of crossposting, but more specifically Australian content here. Still, group blogs were clearly the wave of (what was then) the future. The most successful in Ozplogistan (the briefly popular name for Australian political blogs) have been Catallaxy, Club Troppo and Larvatus Prodeo. But there haven’t been any new entrants successful enough to attract sustained attention, and now LP is gone.

There are two obvious reasons for the decline of blogging. First, after disdaining everything to do with blogging for years, the mainstream media embraced the idea with enthusiasm five years ago or so, putting much of their content in blog form. The big media blogs now attract much larger audience than independent efforts like this one. Second, there has been the rise of Facebook and Twitter, both of which supply a lot of what attracted people to blogging in the first place. Twitter, in particular, can be quite close to the original form of blogging, based on short (very short in the case of Twitter) links to interesting material found on the web.

So, with the closure of LP and getting booted from the Fin, it seemed like a good time to reassess what I’m doing here. I’ve decided to put most of my effort into work that I can post in larger sites (I’ve had invitations from several, and at this stage I think I will try to play the field, rather than picking just one), but I will make it a condition that I can crosspost here. That will enable the discussion that goes on here to continue, and also make this blog a convenient point to collect all my material.

I’ll close by reproducing this post from 10 years ago

My blog is just about a week old, and I haven’t found the Internet this exciting since I discovered Usenet in the early 90s. Even setting up my website five years ago was not as good. Despite wildly varying ideological views, I’ve had a friendly welcome from bloggers across the board, and I’m already getting links and referrals (My return links will be up soon, I promise). It really seems as if blogs might deliver on the original promise of the Web – certainly the technology seems ideally suited for individuals and small groups, with no obvious way of scaling it up to corporate level. No doubt I’ll get jaded and disillusioned one day, but I hope it will be a long way in the future.

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  1. alfred venison
    April 17th, 2012 at 07:45 | #1

    dear John Quiggin
    thanks for your site & your time. Thanks also for seeking in future to keep us here in the loop. all much appreciated.
    yours sincerely
    alfred venison

  2. BilB
    April 17th, 2012 at 09:30 | #2

    Yes, indeed. Many thanks.

  3. Hermit
    April 17th, 2012 at 09:36 | #3

    There has to be an alternative to the poisonous ignorance of the Murdoch press. You sometimes hear or see people who get most of their ideas from the tabloids or talkback radio. We can cast our minds back to the anti-whatever rallies on Parliament lawns where busloads of ‘Australian’ readers and Alan Jones listeners held sway. It would be a shame if the general level of debate was dumbed down to that standard due to the absence of critical blogs.

  4. April 17th, 2012 at 09:53 | #4

    Ditto, (especially re keeping things going here).

    Over at “Spring Hill Voice” we’ve only been plugging away at it for 9 years, so we’ll never catch up to your status as “elder” of the webs!

    Far from ‘decline’ our numbers are better than ever so I’d suggest there is still plenty of demand for non-Murdoch-style scribblings. Of course, there’s no money or glory – but if those were your motives you’d boil up a baby and send your CV to News Ltd.


  5. Quentin R
    April 17th, 2012 at 10:27 | #5

    Happy Birthday, for June.

    Time flies, when you’re having fun – I assume the 10 y o posting is reproduced because the sentiment hasn’t changed, much.

    Keep up the good work. Here’s to the next 10!

  6. Andrew
    April 17th, 2012 at 11:16 | #6

    For a minute when I started reading this post I thought you were about to announce that you were shutting down the blog! I’m so pleased and relieved that you aren’t. This is, for me, the most accessible economic writing I’ve come across. Long may it continue. Thanks Prof, and please keep up the great work

  7. Tak
    April 17th, 2012 at 13:59 | #7


    Keep up the good work. I don’t always agree with you but respect your dedication to public debate and there simply aren’t enough academics out there like you.

    I would be interested to hear your views on the LNP’s Commission of Audit in Queensland. Particularly considering that they are quoting current Budget figures the Commission was set up to investigate to justify their tokenistic cuts to date. Today Jeff Kennett has praised the idea. It seems like more privatisations might on the horizon?

    I would be interested to know your views on this.

  8. April 17th, 2012 at 18:56 | #8

    Good innings, JQ. Well played.

  9. Tim Dymond
    April 17th, 2012 at 19:07 | #9

    Thanks for all you have posted here over the years John. It has been an education.

  10. April 17th, 2012 at 19:28 | #10

    JQ, Very pleased you will at least be keeping this as the “blog of record”! Commenting via other substantial outlets makes sense – but in sticking to your guns about cross-posting here as a requirement, you will be doing people a considerable service. Unlike some of the confected MSM efforts, a sustained independent, individual blog with lively commenting generates a much more fulfilling and enlightening read.

    Since you are clearly in blog-reflection mode, I’d be interested on your thoughts, as an Elder Blogger, on a couple of new issues re political/social/economic commentary. First, what about the often opaque, and sometimes inconsistent/selective/biased nature of MSM blog (and, come to that, regular new story) comment practices? I sense they are increasingly being used as a form of media-controlled astroturfing. Second, when an individual blogger hangs up his or her hat, what could be done to help preserve and archive their efforts? Pulling the plug on the best ones is a bit like burning books!

  11. may
    April 17th, 2012 at 20:03 | #11

    10 years?!!

    i wonder if that means if i’d known about your blog ten years ago……….

    all the deleted junk?
    (mine included)
    hows about a Bile File.
    a bit like a Darwin Award for nong commenters.
    could be fun or at least a “what not to do”.

  12. 2 tanners
    April 17th, 2012 at 20:21 | #12

    As a common lurker and infrequent poster I would add my voice to the chorus of “don’t shut down”. If I had a criticism of your blog it would probably be some of the posters who are fixed in position but fluid in argument (you know who you are and it certainly isn’t limited to any one area of the political spectrum).

    Your own postings are entertaining, flexible and rigorous. As others have said, their loss would be a great one. Please ‘keep on keeping on’

  13. NathanA
    April 17th, 2012 at 21:02 | #13

    I too am a lurker and very infrequent poster, and only discovered Australian blogs relatively recently. I would like to say thanks for your welcome contribution to public debate, and hope that it may continue!

  14. Ruth Kershaw
    April 17th, 2012 at 21:04 | #14

    Dear John
    You’ve made an extraordinary contribution with this blog. That you’ve devoted the time and knowledge you have has been generous beyond parallel. Thank you.
    I look forward to your future ventures

  15. TerjeP
    April 18th, 2012 at 01:07 | #15

    My feeling is that back in the early years of blogging those from opposite sides of the political debate actually engaged with eachother more and tried harder to grapple with the substance of their differences. Is that a general view amougst the old timers or is it just me?

  16. Freelander
    April 18th, 2012 at 03:09 | #16


    Probably learning (or degenerating) by doing took place. People probably perfected their talking points and learnt rationalizations to defend against the risk that new ideas might penetrate their fascade

  17. Graeme Bird
    April 18th, 2012 at 07:05 | #17

    One wonders if they didn’t boot you from the Fin. simply on the grounds of you not toeing the bankster line. Others at Troppo and Catallaxy haver never let any hint out on the aether that they are even the least bit suspect of our financial system. Actually they can be extremist about it. Putting about openly idiotic ideas like the “efficient capital markets” theory. Our capital markets are a joke and a running sore, but no-one who wants to be employed by the Fin. seems to be able to notice this.

  18. John Quiggin
    April 18th, 2012 at 07:21 | #18

    @Terje Iraq put a big dent in that. It was obvious from the start that the Bush case for war was dubious, obvious from April 2003 that the claims about WMDs were false and obvious from the end of that year that things were going much worse than the Administration claims. But the right (with hardly any exceptions) kept on denying the obvious. It became clear there was no point in talking to them. Now that the whole fiasco is pretty much over (trillions of dollars wasted, hundreds of thousands dead and essentially nothing to show for it) they want to change the subject.

    But climate change was the real killer. The orthodox rightwing view (though they fudge on various occasions) is that the whole thing is a conspiracy got up by scientists to promote some dubious agenda. Anyone who gives any credit to such a theory is either a liar or a fool. Since there is no point in engaging with liars and fools, I don’t.

  19. David Irving (no relation)
    April 18th, 2012 at 11:53 | #19

    Prof Q, I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating.

    I’m convinced that the main reason the right are so virulent in their denial of AGW is because they know that accepting it means they must also accept that growth capitalism is at an end.

  20. Ross Martin
    April 18th, 2012 at 12:16 | #20

    Add me to the immensely grateful frequent lurker/infrequent poster list. Thanks Prof. Q…here’s to another decade.
    Nathan A….are you Australian?….I and perhaps some others would be interested to know your general location and perspective, if you’d care to reply.

  21. ratee
    April 18th, 2012 at 13:22 | #21

    Very sad of course but relieved there will be some challenging ideas still appearing on your blog, just the frequency will be lower. The comments on your blog are also frequently worth reading and thats a good sign. There’s no point reading comments in most places just people re-stating the standard position, no illumination. Here there are frequent pointers to genuine information and data from those keen to back up their views. Concurring with the comments above – daily reader but rare commenter.

  22. canberra boy
    April 18th, 2012 at 14:02 | #22

    John I’m another lurker/infrequent commenter relieved to hear that this blog will continue. I find that a regular dose of Quiggin is indeed good mental exercise when there is not much to found elsewhere. I too regard you as Australia’s foremost economic commentator. And the comments/community of commenters here: the second comment on the CT post you linked struck a chord when it said that reading comments at blogs over a certain threshold of popularity is unbearable…

  23. Ikonoclast
    April 18th, 2012 at 14:27 | #23

    Well , I must admit after blogging for about 5 years on a few other people’s blogs I have become jaded and disillusioned. So JQ has done well to run a blog for 10 years.

    My blogging and reading of blogs has made me realise that very many people talk (write) and very, very few ever listen. Almost nobody changes a single opinion they hold though I suppose those who are undecided and those who haven’t thought about an issue can have an opinion formed. Most opinions held by most people are uninformed and prejudiced. The best we could hope for is the collective intelligence of democracy whereby the aggregate of self-interest (hopefully a little enlightened) leads to a broadly enlightened outcome.

    Politically and economically, I have been highly disappointed at the way that views and policies which are wholly discredited on all empirical, scientific and humanist levels have continued to hold sway unabated at the public policy and debate level. The obtuseness, stubborness, regression and oppression of conservative and neoliberal viewpoints is staggering and in the end disillusioning. One wondes how false and destructive views can triump for so long.The answer is by oppression and exploitation only. I truly despair of any hope for Western civilization now. We have strayed too far from any reasonably enlightened path.

  24. Tom
    April 18th, 2012 at 15:56 | #24

    Many thanks to Professor Quiggin for hosting this blog. Although I haven’t been here for very long, I’ve enjoyed the high quality discussions in this blog presented from Professor Quiggin and from other commentators. I’ve visited a lot of blogs and I simply couldn’t find another that matches the quality of debate this blog have.

    Unfortunately as canberra boy said, the more popularity a blog have, the quality of comments will drop (which I do believe there is a relationship between those issues); conflicted with my hope that I wish more people can read this blog and give some thoughts about the things they believe in. Everytime I read the high quality discussions in this blog, it brings me some hope about humanity; however the reality always shatters my hope.

  25. BilB
    April 18th, 2012 at 17:47 | #25


    Perfect summary, yet the “people” you are arguing with (not) have all the money, or want to have it all.

    Greed trumps Intelligence, Climate trumps Civilisation.

  26. April 18th, 2012 at 21:17 | #26

    Congratulations on your 10 year blogging anniversary, John. Those of us blessed with lack of imaginative foresight are not as susceptible to becoming “jaded and disillusioned”. And the wonder for a mostly illiterate, copy and paste blogger is to have any visitors at all.

    Still I would differ, your blog has been part of a continuing epoch rather than an era. It is good news that it continues, as others, as they transmogrify. The potential then is that as butterflies, we might change the climate. Communication, despite the organization of English, I suppose has the characteristics of a widening non-linear system.

  27. Matt
    April 18th, 2012 at 23:33 | #27

    Just wanted to express my appreciation that you will continue cross-posting here John and I’ll add that I value the quality of the discussion too.

  28. TerjeP
    April 18th, 2012 at 23:35 | #28

    John – so you agree things have changed. I thought so too but good to have it confirmed by at least one other. And you seem to be saying that it is mostly the left that has walked away from the table which is consistent with how it seems to me. Time will tell if that’s a good debating strategy. Personally I doubt it.

  29. April 19th, 2012 at 00:14 | #29

    “..it is mostly the left that has walked away from the table which is consistent with how it seems to me. Time will tell if that’s a good debating strategy. Personally I doubt it.”

    That seems to be a bit of a weird thing to say.

    Are you saying the “Right” has won, but you’re sad to see the end of the battle?

    Or are you saying that perpetual faux warfare is the desireable status quo, and it would be bad for one ‘side’ of that faux warfare to give up – for appearance sake?

    Surely you can’t be suggesting that there is some ‘middle-ground’ to be discussed genuinely and honestly? That may have been the case if the ‘right’ weren’t so devoid of honesty (see e.g.: climate change).

    I suspect that the “right” will be perfectly capable of dividing itself in its triumph into two groups that end up looking remarkably like the ‘right’ and ‘left’ we have been used to conceptualising.

    That might end up being a better outcome than this pretence we have where a whole bunch of ALP operatives pretend that they are not closet libertarians and free-market fundamentalists – all the while co-opting and subverting more collaberatively minded groups who believe in a more cooperative solution to problems.

    I suspect the “right” of the “left” is giving itself a hearty toast right now.

    What, exactly, would be left to ‘debate’ now that the “Right” has virtually total power?

  30. plaasmatron
    April 19th, 2012 at 01:26 | #30

    More thanks from another frequent lurker/infrequent commenter (although I snuck in a couple of “guest-posts” back in 04/05). This really is one of the few informed and civilized blogs around and there is a great cross-section of rational ideologies represented and tolerated. That is something to be applauded.

  31. April 19th, 2012 at 02:35 | #31

    Nice little site you have here. Hope it continues for many a year to come.

  32. rog
    April 19th, 2012 at 06:50 | #32

    Many thanks JQ for your principled and logical views rigorously presented.

  33. haiku
    April 19th, 2012 at 07:30 | #33

    The left has walked away from the table? Is that because the person on the other side of the table is insisting that the table is in fact a purple mongoose with certainty of p < 0.05, courtesy of a conspiracy of Einstein's new world government, Bob Brown and the Teletubbies, all while fearful of a nuclear attack by Baathists within 45 seconds? Makes sense to me. Let me out my glass of wine back down on this purple mongoose. Galileo!!!!!!!

  34. Chris Warren
    April 19th, 2012 at 07:47 | #34


    The left has walked away from the table?

    This was just Terje trying to cause trouble. The so-called table is in fact the entire world.

    What, in fact is happening, is that most are walking away from Terje.

  35. alfred venison
    April 19th, 2012 at 07:49 | #35

    yes, haiku, so far so good, but you left out the part where they suddenly began to drink clear liquid from jars & talk a lot about guns.

  36. Katz
    April 19th, 2012 at 08:13 | #36

    The Left has moved to the grown ups’ table, but the Right wants to continue the food fight.

    Not all rightists lack table manners but too many of them do.

    I congratulate both JQ’s forbearance and his occasional banning of bad mannered bloviators. He has the balance just about right.

  37. Paul Norton
    April 19th, 2012 at 09:31 | #37

    John, thanks for introducing me to the world of blogging.

  38. April 19th, 2012 at 10:45 | #38

    Yes it was very different when I first signed up for the blogosphere too, you were and still remain unique however as someone ‘of the left’ who can engage thoroughly with the language of economics. Keep up the good work whatever you do.

  39. Mel
    April 19th, 2012 at 13:36 | #39


    “Yes it was very different when I first signed up for the blogosphere too, you were and still remain unique however as someone ‘of the left’ who can engage thoroughly with the language of economics. ”

    I think the arts and social science left would be less prone to seeing the world a set silly cliches if they were required to study economics as part of their undergrad courses. I reach for the sick bucket when I hear any of the following: “white privilege” “the Other” “gendered binaries” “discursive” “discourse” “the imaginary” etc.. We had none of this crap when I studied the social sciences in the late 80s/ early 90s.

  40. John Quiggin
    April 19th, 2012 at 15:17 | #40

    Terje, since you want to score points on this, let me say straight out that you haves, on numerous occasions, peddled ludicrous conspiracy theories, and repeated nonsensical statistics. To your credit, you’ve occasionally been willing to back down when the worst errors are pointed out. But you’ve never learned the lesson that your tribal allies are, without exception, liars and fools, and that you should never believe anything they say. Instead you keep on coming back with the same old stuff.

  41. Fran Barlow
    April 19th, 2012 at 17:19 | #41

    It seems pointless to add my voice to the chorus on the value of your contribution to the blogosphere, but in case it isn’t PrQ … well done you and many thanks.

  42. rog
    April 19th, 2012 at 19:01 | #42

    @Fran Barlow Why would your voice be pointless Fran?

    I think you are being unecessarily harsh on yourself.

  43. TerjeP
    April 19th, 2012 at 21:37 | #43

    But you’ve never learned the lesson that your tribal allies are, without exception, liars and fools, and that you should never believe anything they say.

    What all of them? On every issue? All the time? I think the right get things wrong, eg Iraq war, but I think your generalisation is a little puffed up with hubris.

  44. John Quiggin
    April 19th, 2012 at 22:02 | #44

    @Terje; It’s true that we don’t see the same degree of concerted dishonesty/willing gullibility on every issue as we have on Iraq and climate change, but these issues are big and important enough that those who peddle or accept obvious lies about them need to be judged on that basis.

    Coming back to the question of engagement, what’s the point of debating, say tax policy, with someone who is willing to espouse obviously delusional beliefs on other issues. It’s clear such people can’t be convinced by evidence, and are only displaying an appearance of reasonableness because they think they can win that way on the issue in question.

  45. John Quiggin
    April 19th, 2012 at 22:05 | #45

    And, to be clear, there are people of conservative or libertarian views who didn’t push lies about Iraq and who accept mainstream climate science. At least on the latter issue, Harry Clarke is an example, But, as you can see on any Catallaxy thread involving Harry, such people are regarded as outcasts by the tribal right.

  46. April 19th, 2012 at 23:39 | #46

    I’ll add my thanks, John. (Looks like I’m not the only refugee from Larvatus Prodeo on this site.)

  47. April 20th, 2012 at 08:51 | #47

    To echo others here, I was frightened to see the title and first sentences of this post. Thank goodness you’re not shutting down too. Coming so soon after the demise of Larvatus Prodeo and Levon Helm it could well have pushed me over the edge.

    But it’s time to pause and say thank you, as others have done, for the excellent free education and community you provide here. I have learned a great deal from this blog. Thank you John!

  48. TerjeP
    April 20th, 2012 at 14:58 | #48

    John – I agree Iraq and climate change are big issues. On the later sections of the left, including you in some regards, are delusional about the relative future cost effectiveness of making electricity on mass from wind and solar. I suppose that is rationalisation enough to dismiss you all on issues like tax and welfare. And in fact sections of the right do openly dismiss everything the left has to say because of such delusions. If dismissal of everything said by one tribe on the basis of some things said by that tribe is the way forward for public policy debates then yes, why bother.

    Catallaxy isn’t my cup of tea. I like many of the authors but there is no room for respectful disagreement in the comments. There are three or four enforcers of this culture of disrespect but probably others waiting in the wings. However your position is just as much a disappointment. I used to shop around arguments from left to right and get meaningful debate and insight. Now it just attracts thunder and lightening from both sides. Perhaps blogging has had it’s day, at least in terms of meaningful challenges to conventional thinking. I do think this is tragic and I feel nostalgic for how it used to be. I suppose it is one more tragedy of the commons.

  49. April 20th, 2012 at 18:36 | #49

    Anyone under 30 who can become ‘famous’ for promoting a sustainable economic model taking us away from the addiction to the current eternal-growth model can win $1,000,000 with a $5,000 bonus for getting it published in the Murdoch press!


    He’s a clever fellow, Dick. A bit disingenuous with his “if only Rupert knew how bad his papers are” line, but that may just be a tactic.

  50. Fran Barlow
    April 20th, 2012 at 19:12 | #50


    However your position is just as much a disappointment. I used to shop around arguments from left to right and get meaningful debate and insight. Now it just attracts thunder and lightening from both sides.

    It ought to be astonishing that you can compare this place with the open sewer over at Catallaxy. Nothing like that occurs here. Sure the right cops a fair bit of curry but it’s always about their ideas and conduct rather than pure vituperation.

    Over at Catallaxy there’s scarcely a topic hat isn’t 50% pure mindless abuse of all things said to have some connection with left-of-centre ideas, including a number of things that have nothing to do with us at all.

  51. rog
    April 20th, 2012 at 19:58 | #51

    Terje accuses others of being delusional about the future while maintaining a delusional view of the present.

    Agreeing that climate change and Iraq are “big issues” is hardly novel, the big issue is that the evidence of both has been obscured by a litany of lies.

  52. TerjeP
    April 20th, 2012 at 21:35 | #52

    Rog – climate change is about the future.

  53. rog
    April 20th, 2012 at 21:46 | #53

    No – evidence is that climate change is past and present with consequences for the future.

  54. TerjeP
    April 20th, 2012 at 22:12 | #54

    Rog – you said I have a delusional view of the present. Can you be specific.

  55. TerjeP
    April 20th, 2012 at 22:44 | #55

    Fran – I pointed to two things (Catalaxy Comments and John Quiggins approach to debate) and refered to them as both disappointing. I’m astonished that you find this astonishing. However if you do then all well and good.

  56. Fran Barlow
    April 21st, 2012 at 07:47 | #56


    Strictly speaking, I said:

    It ought to be astonishing that you can compare this place with the open sewer over at Catallaxy. Nothing like {the level of personal abuse} happens here {emphasis added)

    I’m actually not astonished as vacuous false equivalence is a common feature of right-of-centre commentary. You do it on a regular basis.

  57. rog
    April 21st, 2012 at 08:50 | #57

    @TerjeP Terje, given that an acceptable definition of delusion is a strongly held belief despite superior evidence to the contrary your comment “climate change is about the future” is delusional.

  58. Rob
    April 21st, 2012 at 15:27 | #58

    @JQ, just another quick comment to say thanks for blogging and keep it up. I’ve never been able to enjoy or cohere with those group blog/sites mentioned above, for some reason.

    Your blog is one of a small handful that I check in on daily.

  59. TerjeP
    April 21st, 2012 at 21:57 | #59

    Rog – so you were drawing a conclusion about an assertion that I was yet to make. You are a clever cookie.

  60. Tim Macknay
    April 21st, 2012 at 22:17 | #60

    On the later sections of the left, including you in some regards, are delusional about the relative future cost effectiveness of making electricity on mass from wind and solar.

    Terje, no doubt there are things about which sections of the left are delusional. But if you want to cite an example, you’re going to have to come up with something better than that. The “relative future cost effectiveness of making electricity on mass from wind and solar” is a matter of speculation, and is dependent on a whole range of factors which cannot be predicted with certainty. You may well disagree with the views of some that renewable energy will become more cost effective than fossil fuels or nuclear in the future, but to label that view “delusional” simply because you disagree with it is farcical – your own view is just as speculative. It is completely different from the view (for example) that the entire discipline of climate science is engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to fake global warming.

  61. TerjeP
    April 21st, 2012 at 23:59 | #61

    Tim – Anybody claiming that “the entire discipline of climate science is engaged in a gigantic conspiracy to fake global warming” is in my opnion delusional. It would imply that the entire discipline of climate science actually believes the earth is not being warmed by human action but agrees covertly to say otherwise. Insincerity on that scale simply isn’t credible. So I agree with your point but I don’t think it is particularly meaningful.

    p.s. I’m perfectly comfortable with my example.

  62. Tim Macknay
    April 22nd, 2012 at 00:44 | #62

    Terje, it’s somewhat comforting that you agree that the frequently stated rightwing claim about climate science I mentioned is delusional – it would be unfortunate indeed if you believed such a claim.

    It’s difficult, though, to see how you can claim to have agreed with my point, which you effectively rejected, without addressing it directly, by stating that you’re comfortable with your example. So I’ll elaborate.

    Personally, I don’t know if renewable energy technologies will ever become economically competitive for large-scale electricity production. However, given that some renewable energy technologies have shown a trend of cost reduction and efficiency improvements over time, while the cost of fossil fuel electricity has been increasing, it does appear to be a possibility. It’s difficult to see how a belief that renewable energy will become competitive is so inconsistent with the known facts as to be delusional, even if that belief turns out to be wrong. So calling such a belief delusional is unreasonble, in contrast with the conspiracy theory discussed previously.

    In a similar vein, it appears to me that your stated belief that nuclear energy would be both cheaper and safer were it not for government regulation, and Peter Lang’s stated belief that nuclear energy will get cheaper in the future, are both contrary to the available facts, and therefore highly implausible in my view. Given that no nuclear reactor has ever been built without government subsidy, and the nuclear industry has not shown a trend of declining costs in reactor construction, it seems ot me much more likely that nuclear energy will continue to be expensive, and that, without government regulation and subsidy, there would be no nuclear industry.

    However, I could not reasonably call your views delusional, because it is not impossible that they may turn out to be correct. It is possible that technological improvement will usher in new cheaper, standardised inherently safe reactors and that Peter Lang will be proven correct. It is also possible that some country will adopt a laissez-faire policy regarding nuclear energy, and a cheaper, and still relatively safe, nuclear industry will arise there. I see no good reason to suppose it likely that these developments will occur, but these are speculative discussions about the future, so it is certainly possible that events which I believe to be unlikely will occur.

    So in short, your claim that leftists who believe renewable energy will become economically competitive are delusional is unreasonable and fails to establish the left-right symmetry of delusion you’re looking for.

    Of course, you are perfectly entitled to continue to feel comfortable with your example and need not be swayed in the slightest by my remarks. After all, feeling comfortable, and avoiding the feelings of cognitive dissonance so frequently engendered by complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty, is exactly what ideological dogmas are for. :)

  63. TerjeP
    April 22nd, 2012 at 01:58 | #63

    the frequently stated rightwing claim

    I’m not sure it is a rightwing claim but more to the point I don’t think that it is frequently made by any serious commentator of note. Even those that reject the theory of AGW outright don’t generally claim that all climate scientists secretly agree with their position but are deliberately saying the opposite to be deceptive.

    Clearly thinking all climate scientists are insincere is vastly more delusional than thinking wind and solar power will be an affordable means of powering an industrial society. I grant you that. However as I tried to communicate I don’t think this is the correct comparison. You are in essence toying with a straw man.

    I do think automatically dismissing critics of contempory Australian climate change policy, critics of climate change models or critics of climate alarmism as delusional is roughly on par with dismissing advocates of replacing all fossil fuels with wind and solar energy as delusional. As such members of the left and members of the right can readily do a Quiggin and avail themselves of an excuse to dismiss and then simply characature and ridicule their opponents. Certainly people are free to do this, and on both sides of the debate they increasingly do, but as I indicated it is hardly a win for public discourse.

  64. TerjeP
    April 22nd, 2012 at 02:02 | #64

    p.s. I do actually think the renewable energy crowd are to a large extent delusional. However I don’t use that as an excuse to label them all as fools and liars.

  65. TerjeP
    April 22nd, 2012 at 02:16 | #65

    Fran – you seem to be engaging in your trademark lack of comprehension. Please try harder.

  66. rog
    April 22nd, 2012 at 05:32 | #66

    @TerjeP Shorter Terje; dismissing delusionists as delusionists is delusional.

  67. Jim Rose
    April 22nd, 2012 at 11:37 | #67

    On public reason, denial and climate science, environmental activists, for example, accept the views of the majority of scientists when its suits them. in other cases, the precautionary principle and allegations of corporate political capture are used to suspend judgment and demand more and more evidence. their stout opposition to gentically modified organisms is an example

    In BAPTISTS? THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF POLITICAL ENVIRONMENTAL INTEREST GROUPS By Todd J. Zywicki, 53 Case W. Res. L. Rev. 315 (2002-2003), Zywicki specifies three testable implications on the public interest model of environmental interest groups:

    (1) A desire to base policy on the best-available science;
    (2) a willingness to engage in deliberation and compromise to balance environmental protection against other compelling social and economic interests; and,
    (3) A willingness to consider alternative regulatory strategies that can deliver environmental protection at lower-cost than command-and-control regulation.

    On all three counts, Zywicki found that the public-interest explanation for the activities of environmental interest groups fails to convincingly describe their behaviour. Instead, evidence on each of these three tests is consistent with a self- interested model of the behaviour of environmental groups.

    Most important advance in the age of enlightenment, says Popper, is we are willing to listen to valid criticism and accept reasonable suggestions to improve society.

    Popper classed as pseudo-science, devoid of any serious intellectual basis, both Marxism and psychoanalysis. The both of them are based on dogmatism, since by definition eliminates all attempts to contradict them.

    Marxists automatically assign to an opponent a class bias: if you say this is that you are objectively complicit in our class opponents, so your arguments are not admissible.

    Critical discussion should be welcomed. Mill pointed out that your critics who were total wrong add value because they keep you on your toes and sharpened your argument and the communication of your message. Mill says the fullest liberty of expression is required to push our arguments to their logical limits, rather than the limits of social embarrassment.

  68. Tim Macknay
    April 23rd, 2012 at 11:21 | #68


    p.s. I do actually think the renewable energy crowd are to a large extent delusional.

    Thanks Terje. I’ll take the fact that you’ve chosen to simply re-state this claim rather than defend it as an acknowledgement that you don’t have a rational justification for it. :)

  69. TerjeP
    April 24th, 2012 at 00:09 | #69

    Tim – Well if you presumed that it was such an acknowledgement then you presumed wrong.

  70. Tim Macknay
    April 24th, 2012 at 10:49 | #70

    But you haven’t given me any reasons to think I’m wrong, Terje. Unsupported assertions are not very persuasive.

  71. John Quiggin
    April 24th, 2012 at 11:48 | #71

    @JimRose Zywicki is no authority at all – he’s a fan of Steve Milloy, which indicates full-scale delusionism.


    and the academic work of his that I’ve seen has been both partisan and sloppy

    It’s true that some green groups have anti-science views on GM


    but this is a marginal phenomenon compared to the wholesale embrace of delusionism on the right, and notably at Catallaxy, where you seem to feel no discomfort.

  72. Fran Barlow
    April 24th, 2012 at 13:27 | #72

    Marxists automatically assign to an opponent a class bias: if you say this is that you are objectively complicit in our class opponents, so your arguments are not admissible.

    Marxism as one huge genetic fallacy … ignorant and delusional … and lacking in syntax.

  73. Chris Warren
    April 24th, 2012 at 13:44 | #73

    @Jim Rose @Fran Barlow

    None of this makes any sense?

  74. Fran Barlow
    April 24th, 2012 at 14:07 | #74

    @Chris Warren

    Read more carefully Chris. Rose was claiming that Popper saw Marxism as an iteration of a genetic fallacy. It’s hard to imagine Popper claiming that, but if Rose is right, both of them were/are ignorant of Marxism and delusional.

  75. Chris Warren
    April 24th, 2012 at 14:30 | #75

    @Fran Barlow

    Where is this claim that “Popper saw Marxism as an iteration of a genetic fallacy”?

    Of course Popper never claimed this.

    Maybe Rose would be better off at Catallaxy – a closed society where opposition is banned.

  76. Fran Barlow
    April 24th, 2012 at 15:50 | #76

    @Chris Warren

    Rose has doubtless heard that Popper was a noble crusader against all things Marxist in one of the haunts he frequents — and had imposed his own caricature onto Popper’s account.

    I don’t think opposition is banned at Catallaxy. Good sense is however an endangered species there because the crowd in those parts responds to it with something of the attitude of orchardists to fruit bats.

  77. Tim Macknay
    April 24th, 2012 at 16:11 | #77

    Maybe Rose would be better off at Catallaxy – a closed society where opposition is banned.

    heh. Nice.

  78. Chris Warren
    April 24th, 2012 at 17:28 | #78

    Fran Barlow :

    I don’t think opposition is banned at Catallaxy.

    You are joking? Some months ago I saw a post where they were bragging about a list of banned posters.

    A simple check now turns up banning of, at least;

    ‘wm is censored’

    and I recall streams of others which would pop-up if I searched more..

    Here is a typical comment by Catallaxy … made against “kennedy”.

    [This comment is too moronic to stand - you are a thread wrecker. You will be banned if you don't lift your game. Sinc.]

    It is impossible to be too moronic on Catallaxy.

    Catallaxy is a banning-machine.

  79. rog
    April 24th, 2012 at 18:36 | #79

    @Chris Warren Chris is correct; Catallaxy (the self elected bastion of free speech) regularly bans, deletes or modifies posters and postings. When pressed the argument is that as they are a private site the “owners” are responsible and need to protect their liability.

    When push comes to shove they go to water.

  80. rog
    April 24th, 2012 at 18:42 | #80

    To put it into some perspective; Jason Soon, Sinclair Davidson and other unmentionables are absolutely petrified that JQ will proceed with a threatened legal claim for defamation.

  81. Freelander
    April 24th, 2012 at 18:46 | #81

    Popper’s two volumes of “The Open Society and its Enemies” are worth a read. Although,eventually you recognize he is not exactly even handed.. Also. He was not beyond being afounding member of at least one quasi secret closed society, so he didn’t walk the talk.
    His most notable contribution was falsification but the Duhem Quine Thesis shows the problem with that.

  82. Chris Warren
    April 24th, 2012 at 23:51 | #82

    Defamation is the only way to go. The Catallaxy defamation has malice embedded in it. Their whole right-wing tactic is to hold people up to ridicule for political purposes.

    Catallaxy is pure unadulterated politically motivated defamation.

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