The Simon Ehrlich Bet

A long time ago in a far away land, a lowly business professor at a state college showed that a famous person from Stanford was a fraud and a con-man. The famous Simon – Ehrlich Wager Wager is one of those events that holds the attention of both sides of the political elite. Betting against over all human progress has proven to be a suckers bet for roughly 10,000 years. On the other hand, those inclined toward cynicism take pleasure in unmanning charlatans like Ehrlich on philosophical grounds.

Guys like Paul Ehrlich will always be with us, mostly because they are not about being empirically right, but about being morally right. There not appealing to facts and reason, when they stand out demanding the rest of us repent. What they are really doing is appealing to the managerial class, who view themselves as the keepers of public morality, by way of flattery. You see, if you agree with Ehrlich, then you are a good person, because all the good people agree with him.

Steve Sailer linked to this and provided some commentary. While Sailer can be a bit dismal in his analysis, he strikes me as a fairly optimistic guy. Optimists are people who think things will be fine in the long run. They may have doubt about the short run, but they think things tend to work out fort her best. Sailer seems to think that the people in charge will figure it out and make the necessary course corrections. One day, Steve will get to see his beloved California restored to what he recalls as a child.

I don’t know, but I would assume Sailer looks back fondly on the unmasking of Ehrlich as a fraud. It supports his generally optimistic view that things tend to get better in the long run. Therefore, when someone comes out with some gloomy predictions, Sailer tends to be more dismissive that most people. That’s why the Simon-Ehrlich wager still resonates after all these years. For the optimists, it is confirmation. For those in power, it is an excuse to ignore the warnings of their critics.

Maybe human progress is inevitable and the sort of dire prognostications like the ones in that linked post can be safely ignored. Maybe Ehrlich was just a grifter and his failure has no meaning whatsoever. The predictions in that post look quite reasonable. There’s very good reason to think that the American Empire is slowly moving to a denouement that will be no more pleasant than the end of previous empires. if in ten years those things are true, the politics of America will be very rough.