Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hazards of Peak Oil Prognostication: A Cautionary Tale

When people make predictions, they need to be held accountable when such predictions fail. Foss predicted in no uncertain terms that the stock market would top out at 10,000 points in the Fall of 2009 and then decline precipitously. Her comrade-in-alarm, known on the Internet only as “ilargi,” predicted that as a result of this “Depression” oil prices would “crash” into the thirties.

They are now off by 2,000 points, two years, and seventy dollars, respectively. And yet Foss continues to pack auditoriums preaching an “overall message” that remain[s] unchanged,” according to Spofford.

In spite of Foss's failures — along with the failed predictions of every public peak oil alarmist including the late Maine resident Matthew Simmons — Spofford uses terms such as “truthful picture” and “realistic view” to describe Foss's persistent forecasting follies. _PortlandDailySun
To many people with nothing important to do, doom is sexy, and draws them like a magnet, or like a moth to the flame. Doom gives them a cause, something greater than themselves of which they can become a part. Apocalypse is sex to the sex-starved, food to the hungry, water to the parched. It gives meaning to their lives, and a sense of being in the know.
As described in the book “Don't Believe Everything You Think,” Thomas Kida reviews decades of studies that show “economists can't even predict the major turning points in our economy.” Stock price predictions have never performed any better than would be predicted by chance.

These studies show furthermore, and shockingly, that “the amount of knowledge we have in a certain area will not help us predict what will happen,” because what will happen is “inherently unpredictable.”

This never stops showboats like Foss from perpetuating her “hardcore doom,” as Spofford calls it, nor people from lapping up such useless prognosticating.

This does not mean that I think a “deflationary depression” will not happen; I would need my own crystal ball to come to such a conclusion. I simply do not know. Nor does it mean that I don't think peak oil is a serious issue for the future.

What I do think it means is that peak oil as a reputable concept is ruined by people like Foss who persist in holding onto discredited positions, and by fans like Spofford who refuse to apply a statute of limitations to predictions that might cause public panic. _PDS
People who get caught up in grand causes such as peak oil doom, never seem to look at the other sides of the issue. Once they get hooked, and have sold themselves to the movement, they begin looking for answers to objections instead of honestly analysing potential weaknesses in their own position.

The hucksters of peak oil doom are in it for the money, of course. They could not care less about the people they are scamming. Particularly when the marks are falling over each other to get in on the secret knowledge and the philosopher's stone.



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