Yesterday, I read an article in the Economist on climate change. I was appalled by the lack of critical thinking shown, as compared to my own attempt at the same topic. I'm almost embarassed at the weakness of their reasoning...and their conclusion is absurdly simplistic, to the point of having to read it twice to check if it was a joke. I guess I've grown up.
Why then, I asked, was their paper so impressive for me when younger, but not so much now? I have a small set of hypotheses:
- The economist is the magazine of the British educated, pragmatic, economically literate "liberal". There has been a sea change in the educated classes' opinions in Britain between the Thatcher/Reagan era when actual free-marketeering was respectable and Tony Blair et al.'s 3rd way is substantial. The paper, as it should, has moved with the educated opinion.
- I've become either more well informed (true), and less mainstream (true), while the Economist has become at least more mainstream.
- The Economist has Hansonian status management to deal with. The serious challenges against Climate science all fly hard in the face of the prejudices of the educated classes, and so few educated folks would write them.
- The internet has created room for the contrarians. In the past, the semi-respectable, intellectual contrarian would work with the Economist, as something near the edge of respectability, and end up moderating his own opinions as the he also pulled the economist towards the extreme. Now, the contrarian has her own website/blog/column in an e-zine, and doesn't write at the economist, and it has become the centrist rag of the economically literate intellectual.