Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Natural selection should guide economics

Look carefully at that picture. See the moth? There are actually two of them.
In the world of evolutionary biology, the story of the peppered moth has almost iconic status when it is used to explain natural selection might work. It's fairly easy to explain the selective advantage of camouflage, especially for something as helpless as a moth on tree bark.
In high school biology, illustrating the concept of natural selection can be this simple, or a bit more difficult using the Hardy-Weinberg Principle of shifting allele frequencies. Either way the concept of Natural Selection can be used to explain biological evolution. For those who understand this stuff it's fairly clear that it can be used to explain and predict events around evolution. Though many people might think that evolution is random , the truth is, if enough information is known the direction and even possible outcomes may be predicted.
I thought of evolution the instant I read an article by Steven Horwitz in this months issue of The Freeman: Free Markets Are Regulated: The myth of disorder. The article argues for the proposition that unregulated free markets, are in fact regulated by the rules of economics, creating order without design. This is an argument I wholeheartedly support.
Now I'm going to make a sweeping generalization. I suspect that there are many who believe that the Theory of Evolution is the best way yet devised to explain the diversity of life on Earth. Whether natural selection is the primary mechanism, or whether there are several other mechanisms, is not really important. What is important is, that there was no "guiding hand," no "intelligent designer" involved in directing the evolution of those species currently extant. Their very existence was regulated by a complex interaction between environmental conditions, species variability, reproductive rates, and chance. I'm willing to bet that many who believe these ideas about evolution, also believe that governments should regulate the economies of countries, and not leave them to the supposed vagaries of the free market. In other words, many who read the blogs associated with Planet Atheism (which I am happy to be part of), who support the teachings and the truth about evolution, many of you are collectivists, statists, socialists etc. etc.
You believe that somehow science is not involved in economics. I believe economics is a science as much as evolution, and as such, there are rules that can be understood and used to make predictions. Furthermore, to interfere in a free market to my mind, is a bit like believing that a god, or an intelligent designer, somehow can make a few tweaks to improve the process of evolution. While that is not going to happen, governments do interfere in free markets, and Steven Horwitz's article explains that when they do they create disorder and randomness. By "regulating things" the state destroys order.           

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