The Bush administration, having entered office as social conservatives, leaves office as conservative socialists, proprietors of the most sudden large expansion of the state's role in the US economy since mobilisation for the second world war.
The root of this financial crisis is the tension between wanting to spread risk and not understanding its consequences
Scientific literacy is about teaching the content of modern science. That naturally entails the rudiments of experimental method, logic, the uses of observation and sources of random and systematic error. It does not mean you have to have a good definition of what a "fact" is or the status of theories versus models or what makes something "scientific."
The rhetoric of xenophobia and chauvinism is unpleasant, and, in a country with Austria’s past, even alarming. But the new populism is not yet undemocratic, or even anti-democratic. The phrase most often heard in Austria among voters of the right-wing parties is “fresh air.” People say they voted for Haider and Strache to break the stranglehold of the ruling parties.
- Don’t withdraw your money from the bank. Agree: As chicken runs go, bank withdrawals are fascinating but the likely outcome from a bank run is a) a lack of liquidity, and b) that your money will be less worth than if you left them in the bank.
- Don’t fix the rates of your mortgage. Hmmm. Difficult – partly because there are some differences between the Danish and Swedish mortgage markets. The question is: Will rates go up or down in the medium term? If central banks want to increase liquidity, they should go down.
- Don’t sell your shares. Agree. Selling should have happened in 2006.
- If you work in an industrial company and have received your notice, you are in all likelihood in for a bumpy ride because the crisis will be linked with general structural change. I might consider making a bet that SAAB and Volvo PV will not exist as car producers in Sweden in, say, 2015. They may survive as brands, though.
- If voters don’t see the crisis as the government’s fault, the government is likely to be strengthened in public opinion by a crisis like the present. Yes, provided the government behaves reasonably and the alternative doesn’t look more attractive. Look at what happened to all Danish governments between 1974 and 1979: The won elections in 1975, 1977 and 1979!
Anyway: As a social science (part time) educator of the pragmatic (as opposed to positivist and social constructivist) sort, I’d say that “facts” are statements about the surrounding world, but more often than not, facts are not directly observable or easily interpretable. And rest assured: It is possible to write a Ph.D.-thesis on the exact nature of facts.
Similarly, I’d describe a “theory” as a way of explaining1 the connections between causes and effects. That something is a theory doesn’t in itself mean that it is wrong or right, proven or unproven.
And: Both facts and theories should be treated with the same care as mine sweepers apply to explosives.
- And let’s leave the explanation/understanding issue for later [↩]