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« Peak Neoclassical Economics? | Main | Can Democracy Work in the Absence of Sufficient Sapience? »

September 22, 2013


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Ian Fraser


While I understand your "adoration" of Mandela I think you should also understand that Mandela as well as being perhaps wise was also supported by a vast army of people. If you believe Mandela was wise you must also believe the group that supported/promoted him were wiser still.

I was in SA for the elections, I was friends with relatives of his successor. I have deep respect for Mandela but I have greater respect respect for the mass of people who made his western "deification" possible.

Sapience is not individual.


@George - Thanks for expressing this humane way of looking at the annual cycle. I was out on my bicycle today and picked some plump blackberries by the roadside, reminding me that whatever the trials and tribulations of human society (and the accompanying angst for sensitive folk) Nature just keeps on giving, one way or another, season after season.

George Mobus


Thank you for that observation. I, of course, have only viewed the history from afar and only through the lens of the media reports and biographers.

I will, however, eagerly agree that no wise person could actually be a leader unless there are sufficiently many sufficiently wise people surrounding him/her.

No sapience is not individual as we are a social animal. But that applies to intelligence and creativity as well. Individuals need to have an adequate cognitive capacity as a basis for communications with other beings.

I'm not sure what you have in mind with the phrase "wiser still" applied to the group. In my view the "wisdom of the crowd" needs to have a very wise seed to organize around. If successful, the crowd can indeed be wiser than any one component. But it is a process of becoming, not a state of being.

PS. We probably never hear about wise "potential" leaders because they do not have a crowd of sufficiently wise people to lead.


Amen brother.



Thanks for taking on MPP. I am almost sure that my characterization of it is wrong. I hope I don't sound too harsh when writing in the comment section, of the hardest thing to do is form a question that gets to the root of misunderstanding especially when it is your own. I don't know if you have ever checked out my blog, but it is a self imposed course and I have been lucky to at least rope in Mary Logan at the blog PWD to critique some of what I write. If you ever feel the need to give someone a good mental smack down stop on by. And I am really looking forward to your book. Happy belated birthday.



Thanks for your responses on the previous posting. I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place to ask you, but what do you make of this piece?

Penned by an associate professor of geography and environmental systems, no less.

George Mobus


Always appropriate from you!

I did see this (op-ed section of Sunday NYT with espresso) and had to cry before I started laughing. For example:

The conditions that sustain humanity are not natural and never have been.

What a profound lack of understanding of the Universe. His point, of course, is that technology extends the carrying capacity of the planet vis-a-vis human extraction of resources. No argument there but then he says:

There really is no such thing as a human carrying capacity. We are nothing at all like bacteria in a petri dish.

So the Earth is infinite!

Ellis is a techno-cornucopian like Tom Friedman. This is an expression of belief, not, as he would like us to believe, the result of analyzing data. His interpretation is biased. And he assumes that all of the non-renewable depletion effects we are seeing will be mitigated by us simply finding alternatives - the standard neoclassical economist's view.

My first impulse was to write a rejoinder, but then I remembered this is the same paper that regularly publishes messages about how all will be well if we just believe. I suspect one of their editor's name is Tinkerbell!



@George - Thanks! So I'm not crazy for the belly laughing that woke my neighbors.

When reading the pearls of "wisdom" uttered by such folk, I always wonder which of the following statements is most accurate:

1. He genuinely believes he is right. (Naivety, ignorance, deep denial, etc.)
2. He hopes he is right. (Fear lurks in the shadows.)
3. He is not focused on truth because he has an agenda. (His tenure/future income depends on not rocking the Good Ship Business-As-Usual.)

None of these possibilities enhance the image of Science. Ho hum.

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