In 1841 Charles Mackay first published ‘Memoirs of Historical Popular Delusions.’
It has been re-published many times since, and the title changed to “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.”
Here is an excerpt from the Foreward:
All economic movements, by their very nature, are motivated by crowd psychology. Graphs and business ratios are, of course, indespensable in our groping efforts to find dependable rules to guide us in our present world of alarms. Yet I never see a brilliant economic thesis expounding, as though they were geometrical theorems, the mathematics of price movements, that I do not recall Schiller’s dictum: ” Anyone taken as an individual, is tolerably sensible and reasonable–as a member of a crowd, he at once becomes a blockhead,” …
Were this book written today, a whole chapter would have to be added that would be devoted to climate alarmism. And most specifically to the recent (late 20thC to now) alarmism of the Global Warming variety. Though, to be fair and honest the 20th C. saw from time to time, alarmism of both the Warming, and Cooling varieties, of late, it is the Global Warming variety that has captured the fancy of the crowd much more so than the idea that Earth could be just around the corner from some prolonged cooling event. Indeed, Global Warming/AGW[anthropogenic global warming] terms have been replaced by the current popular term of ‘Climate Change’, which would seem to be a catch-all for whichever way the climate may swing.
Now, you may be thinking that climate change isn’t an economic movement, but you will have a tough time reconciliing that with President Obama’s war on Coal and his statement that electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket under his plan. If Obama actually cared about the economically disadvantaged , he would not be engaged in such an endeavor as a war on coal, or petroleum, or natural gas. In addition to hurting the poor, Obama’s policy has had the unpleasant side effect of further politicizing science. Frederick Colbourne has written a guest post at the Ice-Age Now blog that puts the magnifying glass to this more recent Popular Delusion of Climate Alarmism.
Climate Alarmism an Extraordinary Popular Delusion
by Frederick Colbourne
In my opinion, climate alarmism would be just another example of “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” rather than a ‘hustle’. Except that climate alarmism is supported by governments that have aligned on the side of the promoters of the delusion and in so doing have politicized the science. State power is what makes climate alarmism a ‘hustle’, corrupting science in the process.Recently, the US lent its immense power to a global climate treaty intended to reverse global economic development by reducing access to cheap energy. The EU and Britain have signed on to promote and enforce what seems to me a cultish form of Luddism. While there have been Luddite movements since the early days of the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, these movements were never popular in America, until now.
The nostalgia for pristine Nature that inspired Thoreau’s Walden and now inspires an influential minority of Americans was not popular in the past, but has become a pillar of the modern cult and delusion. The cult of Nature as Mother Earth is about as remote from Earth science as it is possible to get, which probably accounts for the number of Hollywood celebrities who act as acolytes. The root of the delusion is that Nature is benign. Three days in the wild without the products of agriculture and industry would convince most True Believers that Nature is hostile, when in reality, Nature is indifferent to Mankind. (Perhaps Thoreau was able… Continue reading