Let the Truth Be Told

Written by
1 December 2018

All the time we see Governments identifying problems and then coming up with really dumb solutions. More often though, the problem being addressed either has or is being solved, or its dimensions are wildly exaggerated.

A cluster of problems the left obsesses about fall into these categories: poor people getting poorer, inequality getting worse, the ‘developing world’ being left behind etc etc. In response, there are proposals for massive global transfers of wealth and/or more socialism in said developing world countries.

But except for a small number of countries (e.g. Venezuela, parts of Africa), the quality of life for the bulk of the world’s population is improving year on year, as shown in Factfulness, reviewed by Richard Conrad, which I commend to you (while thanking the IPA supporter who put us on to the book).

In large part these improvements relate to increased levels of freedom, and to a lesser but considerable extent the spread of democracy. The promise of liberal democracy for human flourishing and material prosperity has been met again and again all over the world.

The book’s authors point out that much of the catastrophism is due to a series of systematic biases in the way humans think and the way the media talks about issues. As a species we are too negative and the media is (surprise) sensationalist and scaremongering.

Of course there are conscious causes too, and the book details examples where Al Gore and his ilk sought to use deliberate exaggeration and stoke fears of imminent catastrophe to herd people into ‘action’ on climate change. Surprise surprise, populations are turning off such scaremongering.

Real scientists and catastrophists are at least dealing with data, even if that data can be twisted. We are, meanwhile, seeing the spread of postmodern thinking in which even the very possibility of verifiable facts is questioned. Bradley Bowden has delved deep into the postmodern worldview, producing an article to illuminate the perplexed, and demonstrate how one can argue with a postmodernist—and win.

Everything old is new again

Finally, by now you’ve probably noticed the new size and format of this IPA Review. On the cover of the last edition we had a mockup of a tablet device, and that got us thinking about how people are increasingly using this convenient size to access their information. And we were very keen to refresh and simplify the layout and typography, and move to two columns. I trust you will find the new design readable and pleasing to the eye, and the articles as of much interest as always.

Of course, everything old is new again: the new dimensions are very close to those of the original IPA, first published in 1947. In that inaugural edition IPA Chairman George Coles said, “Communication from widely-differing source, and comments in the press, have shown a high degree of appreciation of the Institute’s work and published material.”

May this continue to be the case!

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Scott Hargreaves

Scott Hargreaves is the Executive General Manager at the Institute of Public Affairs

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