State of Innovation

Patents and Innovation Economics

Walter Williams and Overpopulation

In an article entitled, Overpopulation Hoax, on Lew, Walter Williams argues that Thomas Malthus was incorrect in his prediction about food and population.  Williams misstates what Malthus said in suggesting that populations will have catastrophic collapses.  What Malthus predicts is that all species’ population will expand to fill the available food sources.  This means that individuals within the species will be on the edge of starvation.  If the population declines from starvation or because of some other cause, then there will be surplus calories available and the population will increase until there are no surplus calories for the species’ population.

Williams Misrepresents Malthus

If there is a positive genetic change (or positive change in the environment), there will be excess calories and the population will increase until there are no surplus calories for the species’ population.  This is true for all living species on Earth for all of history, including humans until about 1800.  Malthus’ ideas underlie all of evolutionary biology.  Even when I was born in 1960 over half the world’s human population was living in the Malthusian Trap (on the edge of starvation).  Today less than 15% of the World’s human population is living in the Malthusian Trap.  Overpopulation is not a hoax, however the catastrophic collapse nonsense of the environmental left, such as Paul Ehrlich predictions are.

Julian Simon Humans are Assets

Williams quotes economist Julian Simon that humans are the ultimate asset.   This is almost true.  Extra human beings being born in North Korea are a liability to the North Koreans, not an asset.  Humans are an asset when they are free to create new technologies and their property rights in those new technologies are protected.  Under those circumstances every additional human has a chance to be an asset.  The only way humans escaped the Malthusian Trap and the only way humans increase their real per capita income is by increasing their level of technology, which means inventing.  For more information about the cause of real per capita increases in wealth see my book Source of Economic Growth.



PS: Walter Williams is an excellent economist.

May 31, 2017 Posted by | -Economics, bioeconomics, Blog, Innovation | , , , , | Leave a comment

Science or Religion: Environmental Doomsday Theories

A fundamental difference between religion and science is that a scientific theory is testable, while a religion is not.  Religion ignores facts and believes in faith.  All environmental doomsday theories are religions, not science.  This is true no matter how much they disguise their religion with scientific jargon or call what they are doing a science.

Before I examine some of these environmental doomsday theories, let’s look at another pseudo science.  Creationists say creationism is a science and they attempt to include scientific jargon, including their attempt to show probabilistically human life is impossible.  One version of this idea is that given the number of base pairs in the human genome and that even if one of them were wrong humans would not exist, it is therefore impossible that their was not a Devine hand.  Of course, it turned out that much of the genetic material is irrelevant and that there are redundancies in the encoding of the human genome.  Did the Creationist admit defeat?  No, because it’s a religion not a science.  The same is true of Global Warming (Climate Change), Global Cooling, Malthus, Club of Rome Limits of Growth, Population Bomb, Nuclear Winter, etc.  None of these hypothesis are testable.  The proponents cannot name a single test that would prove their hypothesis incorrect.

Limits of Growth

In this post, I will only discuss the ideas related to some limit to human prosperity.  The idea that humans are doomed to starve to death was first proposed by Thomas Malthus in 1798.  Human population was about 1 billion when Malthus wrote this and today we have a population of about 7 billion.  In 1800 a much larger percentage of people were at risk of starving to death than today.  Nevertheless this did not stop Paul Ehrlich from writing The Population Bomb in 1968 warning of mass starvation in 1970s and 1980s.  When Erhlich wrote The Population Bomb the world had population of about 3.5 billion.  Of course, Ehrlich turned out to be wrong, just as Malthus had.  Note that Mr. Ehrlich also believed we faced imminent Global Cooling at the time, now he is apostle for Global Warming.  How many times can a person be wrong?  Has Ehrlich admitted that his earlier hypothesizes were clearly incorrect?  No.  Have the mass starvation proponents admitted their ideas are incorrect?  No, because their theories are not science they are a religion.  No facts will convince them to give up their irrational argument that we are about to run out of food.  See Earth Economist: The food bubble is about to burst.  The argument in this article is that we are about to run out of water for agriculture.  This is nonsense.  The amount of water on the Earth is essentially the same as it was a billion years ago.  Water has never been where we want it or necessarily in the form we want it.  This is not a resource problem, this is an infrastructure/invention problem.

Club of Rome

This was a book commissioned by the Club of Rome.  The Club of Rome is a think tank and the book “Limits of Growth” was published in 1972 and based its predictions on a computer model.  This model did not include the Internet, Personal Computers, email, genetic engineering, heart transplants, etc.  The model did not include the single way that humans increase wealth – inventions (new technologies).  The book was widely criticized by people such as Robert Solow, Nobel Prize economist, as having a weak base of data.  The book has recently been updated.  I bet it still does not take inventions into account.  The Club of Rome’s prophecies have been no better than Paul Ehrlich.  Is there any fact that if true would prove this hypothesis wrong?  No, because this is a religion not science

All these doomsday prophecies are religions.


Limiting Freedom

All these proposals demand that human freedom be limited to deal with these doomsday religious theories.  This makes them somewhat self-fulfilling prophecies.  The way human’s create wealth is by the use of their mind and the ability to act on their thoughts.  Or as Ayn Rand said in Capitalism” The Unknown Ideal, “reason is man’s means of survival.  Limiting freedom, limits the ability of people to create wealth.  For more information see Sustainability isn’t Sustainable.


While Ronald Reagan pandered to the religious right, he still nailed this issue.

Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success — only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people.


February 15, 2011 Posted by | -Economics | , , , , , , | 30 Comments