Monday, March 29, 2010

The Efficiency of Captialism

Proponents of capitalism like to say that it's the most efficient economic system we have. I think it would be more accurate to say it's the least inefficient, similar to how democracy
is the worst form of government, except all those other forms that have been tried.

-Winston Churchill

Capitalism works well - very well - in certain controlled circumstances. When a resource is scarce, but not too scarce. When there are few barriers to entry. When there is strict regulation preventing monopolies from forming and other predatory business practices. When there's not too much unemployment, but not too little. When there's an increasing population. When income inequality is not too high, but also not too low.

If all these conditions, and others I haven't named, are met, capitalism is quite efficient. But too frequently, these conditions aren't all met. And when that's the case, capitalism kinda blows. Other forms of economy may blow even worse (though I'm sure other forms can outperform capitalism in certain circumstances), but that doesn't make capitalism good.

What brings this up is farmers destroying their crop, because they have too much. From a capitalist point of view, they're making the right decision. Reduce supply to increase price and profit. I can't see how any economic system rewards destroying a resource (especially one as valuable and necessary as food) more than distributing it could possibly be considered efficient. It seems to me to be an incredible failing of the system of capitalism.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Something That Explains Everything Doesn't Explain Anything

I read this somewhere else, but it's important so I'll talk about it too. "Something that explains everything doesn't explain anything." Sounds a little confusing at first. Let me try to reformulate it a little bit clearer.

Suppose you have an idea that is supposed to explain something. If any observation you make can be fit into this idea, then it doesn't have any actual explanatory power.

Now, let me explain. If something has no predictive power, it has no explanatory power. Because, if it can't tell you what to expect in the future, it can't tell you why something happened in the past. That is, if something has can explain something, it should be able to take the explanation, and apply it to something it hasn't seen the result of.

Something that can explain everything has no predictive power. Because it if explains x just as well as not-x, it gives you no reason to expect one over the other.

This is why falsifiability is so important in science. If nothing can show a hypothesis to be wrong, then the hypothesis "explains" everything. If there were anything that it didn't explain, then that potentiality would falsify the hypothesis. An unfalsifiable hypothesis can't explain anything.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Supernatural Does Not Exist

Pretty much just by definition. The supernatural is that which is outside of nature. Nature is equivalent to the universe. If something is outside of the universe, it cannot interact with the universe. If it could interact with the universe, it would be part of the universe. If it cannot interact with the universe, there is no meaningful sense in which it can be said to exist. At best, you could say that it exists in some other universe*, but not this one.

Note: this is not intended to apply to any specific "supernatural" phenomena. This in no way disproves god or ghosts, or whatever. It merely says that if they do exist, they are not supernatural.

*Though, by these definitions, other universes don't exist. They either interact with this universe, in which case they are part of this universe, or they don't, in which case they don't exist. I'm fine with this, since "exists" should imply existing in this universe. It's not really much good to talk about something that exists, but has absolutely no impact on us in any way whatsoever.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Blasphemy must be allowed. Though, not always appropriate, it must always be considered acceptable.


Because everything is blasphemy. Every Christian church blasphemes against Islam and Hinduism and every non-Christian religion (and maybe even some different forms of Christianity too!) every single week. Every religion blasphemes against every other religion, and just about every statement of opinion is blasphemy to someone. Hell, even demonstrable facts can be blasphemous (consider evolution).

Something cannot be considered wrong simply because it it blasphemous, because otherwise, everything would be wrong.