Home > Uncategorized > “That’s Not True! That’s Impossible!”

“That’s Not True! That’s Impossible!”

I find this poll very interesting.  However, I’m torn between two things I’d like to write about it.

My first reaction is that people seem to be waking up to the possibility of collapse on a large-scale and that’s frightening because some aspects of our economy are simply very large Ponzi schemes.  Ponzi schemes collapse because people realize that they are eventually going to collapse and start heading for the door.  Once the rush for the door reaches some critical mass, it can’t sustain itself and comes crashing down. 

My second (and I think more interesting) reaction is that the headline is backward.  It should say “21% say American economy is so big and strong it could never collapse.”  When you say that something is impossible, you are saying that you believe in some set of natural laws which cannot allow that event to happen.  Who are these people who think that the American economy collapsing would somehow violate the laws of nature?  Of course this point of view is most likely not based on careful reasoning but rather on normalcy bias

People tend to think that things which they’ve never seen before are impossible.  But that is stupid for two reasons.  First, just because something has never happened before, doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  You can’t fully understand the world through pure empirical observation, you must have a theory that can predict things that you don’t observe.  Second, we have seen economies collapse.  We’ve seen it lots of times.  We’ve even seen it in the US.  We just haven’t witnessed it in our lifetimes. 

So anyway, I’m not sure what to make of the poll.  The number of people who say a collapse is possible is lower than it should be under any circumstances (100%) but at the same I probably would have guessed that even more than 21% of people would have their proverbial heads in the sand about it.  I wish I had the same poll from 15 years ago.  If I did, I suspect that far fewer people would admit the possibility of collapse.  If this is true, it means we are waking up and even though this might be cause for concern because it may bring on the collapse that we fear, it will only bring it on because it is inevitable, and the fact that we are beginning to see it coming means we will have a chance to prepare and won’t get blindsided by reality like Luke in Cloud City when we look down and notice we only have one hand left.  I wonder what Paul Krugman would answer to this question.

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Categories: Uncategorized
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