Media and junk science and end of time-ism

Here is an example of how the media advances junk science to promote right wing propaganda. 

First you start with an article about correct predictions from 1988:

http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/03/19/1988-predictions-of-what-2013-would-be-like-are-scarily-accurate/?iid=obnetwork

Then you provide a link to another article suggesting an economic “death spiral” and including the face of Bernanke to give it some authenticity, and link to this: 

http://moneymorning.com/ob-article/duncan-death-spiral.php?p=PPYRP303&utm_campaign=content&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=taboola#.UUn1LBwqapB

The article alleges that Duncan is an economist and that he worked with the World Bank.  But note the slide- it doesn’t allege that he was an economist at the World Bank, for all we know he was the janitor.  

He is however the chief economist for his own asset management company.  

You too can be a chief economist, all you need to do is start your own company to be economist for. 

But then we come to this: 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_C._Duncan

It turns out he is actually an engineer, not an economist, although he has some past notoriety for doomsday scenarios.   He previously predicted that our ability to extract energy from the earth would dramatically fall off beginning around 2007 and we would eventually wind up in the stone age. 

Having failed in his first quasi-religion, he appears to be starting another.  

A partner in crime is Laurence Kotlikoff, who according to Duncan is the author of the hare-brained idea that the real shortfall for medicare and social security is $211 trillion dollars. 

I take it the premise for that figure is it is over a few hundred years and there is a premise that nobody pays in a further cent towards their social security in the future. 

So lets say the liability for obligations to people born in 2030 will be $10 trillion.  Maybe they  pay in $10 trillion, or the net present value adjusted equivalent.   

Should we be shocked and say we need to fund that “future liability” now?  Why?  Why should we have to prove that we can pay for everybody in the future today?  Why should we count only the money going out in the future but not the money coming in? 

The total GDP for the next hundred years will probably be around $2,000 trillion, possibly a lot more.   If medicare and social security are $211 trillion of that it’s not a problem.  

Such exercises in deception usually have two objectives, unless the perpetrator is truly deranged and believes what he says.  

The objectives are to advance a certain political movement or to sell certain products, or both. 

Some of the flakier Republicans are already repeating similar nonsense.  

Of course we didn’t hear boo about it when Bush defunded the government and spent 3 trillion or more on stupid wars.  That’s because it never had anything to do with economics or fiscal responsibility.  It was always about making sure that a greater share of the fiscal pie went to right wing persons and institutions.  

And how do we get into this mess? 

It starts with most media organizations providing links or interviews or otherwise legitimizing tinfoil hat theories and fake experts.  Not everybody has the analytical skill to cut their arguments into little bits and pieces.   Links with significant media agencies may lend credibility. 

Another angle on it, usually involving gold, is the doomsday prophecy of whatever basis, economic depression, war, locusts- is used as a set up for why you should buy something that may do well in difficult times, usually gold. 

That’s a really odd cultural fixation which may be why the old truism about gold being good in a crisis isn’t as strongly linked anymore. 

Gold is actually about the least useful substance imaginable in a crisis so it is actually counterintuitive that it would go up in a crisis.  The only reason it does is that the herd has historically run to gold, but when wealth is spread between more cultures it may be that the other cultures didn’t get the memo.   Maybe they’ll invest in something that makes sense in a crisis instead, like tinned food and bottled water. 

 

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