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The reverse Cassandra effect

This excerpt from an old Wired article about the late, great Julian Simon is somehow very apt these days.

Simon always found it somewhat peculiar that neither the Science piece nor his public wager with Ehrlich nor anything else that he did, said, or wrote seemed to make much of a dent on the world at large. For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; theywere immune to contrary evidence just as if they'd been medically vaccinated against the force of fact. Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days "experts" spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.

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Reader Comments (52)

This lovely coining has been used before, as here in 2012: "Mystic Mogg gives Ed dubious endorsement"

Former Times editor William Rees-Mogg was described as "the Ardnassac of political soothsaying (this reverse Cassandra is trusted in inverse proportion to his predictive accuracy)".

Feb 19, 2014 at 8:33 AM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

Marginally off-topic - but relevant nevertheless...
Remember in 2012 we were told that 'climate change has killed all the butterflies..?
Well - the BBC website has a feature today: 'Farmland butterfiles bounce back'...
Seems the warm summer last year created better conditions for them and there were twice as many as the year before (certainly my own expereince echoes this)..
So - another example of: 'Woe, woe, and thrice woe..' 'Oh - hang on a minute...'

Feb 19, 2014 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

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