Letter to the editor: The science of human nature

Print Insight

Letter to the editor: The science of human nature

By: Henry N. Worrest
Posted on December 11, 2013 Bozeman Daily Chronicle Topics:

A Pleasant Surprise - Intro by John Baden, Chairman, FREE

The Christmas season is surely a time to share good things.  Here's a letter to the Bozeman Chronicle posted on Monday, December 9th.  It is one I enjoyed and from which I learned.   One of the pleasures was to discover the clear thinking of Henry N. Worrest.  He writes as a civic-minded person who well understands the lessons and philosophic foundation of economic history.  

After reading this remarkably clear analysis by a long time Bozeman resident I had never met, I called him and asked if we could post his letter as a FREE Insight.  He agreed and came by FREE's Bozeman office.  Although not formally trained in economics, he had just one survey course as an undergraduate, Henry is well read, especially in Austrian Economics.  His letter illustrates this sophistication. He appreciates social complexity and the impossibility of large scale planning for intelligent others. 

I infer he understands economics as logically similar to behavioral ecology.  Here is the theme that arrested my attention: "...progressives have an underlying faith in intelligent design.  It is their belief that a strong central government with the power of coercion can organize a highly complex adaptive system...into a functional economic and culturally socially just society...."

This describes those who harbor belief in Santa well into adulthood.  They are well described in Thomas Sowell's 1987 book, A Conflict of Visions.  Steven Pinker calls these individuals "utopians".  Their progressive vision is a luxury good, one challenged by scarcity.  

While long-term effects of the utopian illusion ultimately generate mischief and misery, it must contribute to self-satisfaction.  This, plus concern for others, are welcome feelings during the Christmas season.  Reality checks will wait.

And speaking of the New Year, we are moving back to our original Gateway office.  FREE's phone will remain the same and our mailing address will be Box 555, Gallatin Gateway, MT 59730.   We will welcome your Christmas and New Year's greetings.  And please visit us in 2014.  You'll better understand our pleasure in being here.



Letter to the editor: The science of human nature

By Henry N. Worrest


Progressives/liberals have challenged the Christians’ belief in intelligent design in favor of their own belief in evolution. I don’t want to get involved in that debate, for I have a different agenda.

It is my belief that progressives have an undying faith in intelligent design. It is their belief that a strong central government with the power of coercion can organize a highly complex adaptive system (Google it) into a functional economic and culturally socially just society. On the other hand, conservatives believe in an evolutionary process that requires freedom for individuals to act on their own interests. One system is supposedly well organized while one is chaotic. Progressives like order. Conservatives like freedom.

Let’s look at another area of contention – morals. Progressives believe in moral relativism – whatever feels right, no concept of right or wrong, one culture is as good as any other. Question: How do you get order to organize central planning if there are no standards of conduct? Answer: force. But, how do the central planners know what is right if there is no right or wrong? Answer: They want what they want, no matter what others may want – force. Conservatives, however, believe in standards of moral conduct. People do what is right behavior as it evolved over long periods of time – customs, mores, duty, the rule of law.

The science of human nature is more complex than physical science. See Nobel Laureate in Physics Murray Gell-Mann’s “The Quark and the Jaguar.” A free economic society is not a machine or assembly line; it is a complex adaptive system that adapts to events just as human individuals (also complex adaptive systems) adapt to events. Free economic society is not static; it is dynamic, always changing.

Enjoy FREE Insights?

Sign up below to be notified via email when new Insights are posted!

* indicates required