This piece is about Malthusian panics, with special reference to climate-change panic, but there is a beautiful general-purpose gem of a paragraph buried in the essay:
Perhaps one way to think of humanity is to think of a vast parallel processing computer network. Our species is constantly receiving vast quantities of data and constantly changing our behavior in response to it. When a big problem emerges, affecting us all over a country or the world, millions and billions of us start making changes in our behavior, trying new strategies and dealing with it in various ways. We are constantly monitoring one another as well; when somebody’s coping strategy is working, other people pick it up. When something is failing, we let it go. From moment to moment, all over the world, human beings are processing information, shifting behavior, collecting feedback and rethinking their behavior. A lot of this isn’t conscious; just as baseball pitchers can throw a curve ball without necessarily being able to understand the math that could describe the ball’s flight, so people who have no education or training in formal logic are able to process real world information and make good decisions.
That’s why I like market solutions over government solutions. Via Doing What Comes Naturally – Walter Russell Mead’s Blog – The American Interest.