I think we all have a tendency to presume that white lab coats and nerds with thick glasses equals integrity, turns out, not so much…
[I]t’s one of these weird situations where everything we think we know is wrong, and it’s all wrong because of one guy, Paul Ehrlich. Paul Ehrlich is not a professional demographer. He only plays one on TV. And he wrote what I think of as the most spectacularly wrong book ever written.
He was wrong in the particulars. He said that within a couple years, hundreds of millions of people were going to starve to death, and that nothing could be done to stop this. He said the population growth was going to increase asymptotically to the moon. That — neither of these things happened.
But more to the point, he was wrong at the moment when the exact opposite thing was happening. He published his book in 1968. In 1968, the fertility rates across the Western countries fell off of the table and went into steep, prolonged, sustained decline; decline which they are still experiencing today. So he was exactly wrong.
And what’s funny — and also, you know, slightly frustrating — but funny, is that again, in the world of professional demographers, like the people who do this for a living, the people who are tenured professors and who work at the United Nations, they all — you know, for the last thirty-five, forty years, have basically ignored Ehrlich and viewed him as sort of a crank. And they’ve been actually focusing the bulk of their research on exactly the opposite question. . . .
It’s just that his books, I think, really touched a spot with the sort of deeply anti-humanist strain of the environmental movement.
Kinda like, oh, I don’t know…
Truth is that like every other human endeavor science is both political and corruptible. Caveat emptor!