As the year draws to a close, I find myself turning back to 2009 and to the highlights and lowlights of the year. For instance, the dumbest thing I heard anyone say all year: at the Battle of Ideas in London, I sat in on a panel
on whether unlimited economic growth was plausible or desirable. On the pro side there was a man who argued:
1. The Bible gives man dominion over all the beasts and land and so forth
2. The world's per-capita GDP works out to about GBP5,000, which means that if we stop growing now and then redistribute things fairly, every human being will have to live on a mere £5 grand a year.
Hardly a day goes by that I am not freshly amazed by how dumb this presentation was. First of all, for a Biblical literalist, this guy was in serious trouble. He was working on a Saturday! He was wearing polycotton blends! He was clean-shaven! Talk about cherry-picking your scripture.
As to 2., man, how innumerate can you get? You don't find out what the average standard of living is by adding up all the world's GDP and dividing by 6.7 billion -- unless you adjust for relative purchasing power (five thousand pounds goes a lot further in Burkina Faso than it does in Knightsbridge) all you get is a totally meaningless number.
I'm sure there were dumber things said this year, but this was the stupidest utterance that took place in my hearing, by a wide margin.
This illustrated flowchart makes it easy to pick an evening out with the Bard.
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