There's been a lot of discussion in this thread about whether or not your examples are valid. But there seems to be a more substantial problem: Your primary example, of whether or not decolonization was a good thing or was handled well is extensively discussed in academia. Similarly, most of the people doing ev psych are tenured professors and the like. So whether or not the views expressed are accurate, the claim that they are ignored by academia seems to be false.

Now, moving on from that, let's look at your claims.

Then there is evolutionary psychology, which tells us that Archie Bunker was right about nearly everything,

Is this a statement about racial groups or a statement about gender relations? I can't quite tell which was intended. Note that ev psych doesn't really say that much that Archie Bunker would actually agree with. Is this intended for rhetorical effect? If so, can you please state this more explicitly.

For a thousand years before the mid nineteenth century, pretty much everyone agreed that equality between husbands and wives would destroy marriage and fatherhood. Then in the nineteenth century, they introduced marital equality. Observe the result.

The request for citations below for the first sentence has already been asked and hasn't been really answered. (I will note that the Talmud which is a series of texts known for debating almost everything about its own legal system has nothing at all saying that equality between the sexes would destroy marriage). But aside from that matter, there's really a pair of pretty easy explanations for the "breakdown" of marriage.

First, in many places, common law marriage (really sui juris marriage), which really wasn't much more than acknowledged long-term cohabitation, was considered marriage. As that became less acceptable in the 20th century, people who if they had lived a century before would have been considered married were no longer counted as married.

Second, lifespans went up. In the 19th century, many marriages ended at an early age with the death of a spouse. See here. This data isn't ideal for this purpose because they are calculating life-expectancy of everyone which means that the decline in infant mortality also comes through. But in general, life expectancy has gone up. Divorces have become more common as a means of ending marriage, but the actual length of the average marriage is not that different from what it was in the 19th century.

There is an argument that equality between males and females has also lead to higher divorce rates. And it probably helps that females can initiate divorce (something that was difficult to do in some places in previous centuries) . It also obviously didn't hurt matters that rising equality made it easier for women to live on their own, which made getting a divorce have fewer downsides. But the claim that equality in marriage itself led to a decline in marriage seems to be extremely weak to the point where the correlation so obviously doesn't imply causation that it is almost a textbook example of that problem.

Your primary example, of whether or not decolonization was a good thing or was handled well is extensively discussed in academia.

Really? Could you refer me to an academic paper that has a perspective on decolonization similar to the one sam presents? Near as I can tell "post-colonial studies" are all about blaming Europeans and their descendents for all the world's problems.

Another exercise, since I believe you're currently in academia your self, bring up the perspective on decolonization with fellow academics in a way that implies it has merit. Let me know if you still have an academic career by the time the resulting firestorm blows over.

Peter Thiel warns of upcoming (and current) stagnation

by SilasBarta 1 min read4th Oct 2011121 comments


SIAI benefactor and VC Peter Thiel has an excellent article at National Review about the stagnating progress of science and technology, which he attributes to poorly-grounded political opposition, widespread scientific illiteracy, and overspecialized, insular scientific fields.  He warns that this stagnation will undermine the growth that past policies have relied on.

Noteworthy excerpts (bold added by me):

In relation to concerns expressed here about evaluating scientific field soundness:

When any given field takes half a lifetime of study to master, who can compare and contrast and properly weight the rate of progress in nanotechnology and cryptography and superstring theory and 610 other disciplines? Indeed, how do we even know whether the so-called scientists are not just lawmakers and politicians in disguise, as some conservatives suspect in fields as disparate as climate change, evolutionary biology, and embryonic-stem-cell research, and as I have come to suspect in almost all fields? [!!! -- SB]

Grave indictors:

Looking forward, we see far fewer blockbuster drugs in the pipeline — perhaps because of the intransigence of the FDA, perhaps because of the fecklessness of today’s biological scientists, and perhaps because of the incredible complexity of human biology. In the next three years, the large pharmaceutical companies will lose approximately one-third of their current revenue stream as patents expire, so, in a perverse yet understandable response, they have begun the wholesale liquidation of the research departments that have borne so little fruit in the last decade and a half. [...]

The single most important economic development in recent times has been the broad stagnation of real wages and incomes since 1973, the year when oil prices quadrupled. To a first approximation, the progress in computers and the failure in energy appear to have roughly canceled each other out. Like Alice in the Red Queen’s race, we (and our computers) have been forced to run faster and faster to stay in the same place.

Taken at face value, the economic numbers suggest that the notion of breathtaking and across-the-board progress is far from the mark. If one believes the economic data, then one must reject the optimism of the scientific establishment. Indeed, if one shares the widely held view that the U.S. government may have understated the true rate of inflation — perhaps by ignoring the runaway inflation in government itself, notably in education and health care (where much higher spending has yielded no improvement in the former and only modest improvement in the latter) — then one may be inclined to take gold prices seriously and conclude that real incomes have fared even worse than the official data indicate. [...]

College graduates did better, and high-school graduates did worse. But both became worse off in the years after 2000, especially when one includes the rapidly escalating costs of college.[...]

The current crisis of housing and financial leverage contains many hidden links to broader questions concerning long-term progress in science and technology. On one hand, the lack of easy progress makes leverage more dangerous, because when something goes wrong, macroeconomic growth cannot offer a salve; time will not cure liquidity or solvency problems in a world where little grows or improves with time.

HT: MarginalRevolution