la liberté de chercher n’y existe plus

ECAEF is grateful for the permission and pleased to post here an important interview that Prof. Agnes Ricroch (F) recently granted L’Opinion.

Source: l’Opinion, Laure Giros

SÉRIE
– France, que fais-tu de ta liberté ? –
Episode 8:

Des pans de la recherche française sont devenus tabous, la liberté de chercher n’y existe plus

Enseignante-chercheure à AgroParisTech et à l’université Paris-Sud, professeur adjoint à la Pennsylvania State University (États-Unis), Agnès Ricroch est aussi membre du comité d’éthique de l’Ordre national des Vétérinaires, secrétaire de la section Sciences de la vie de l’Académie d’agriculture de France.

La France se définit encore elle-même comme la patrie des Lumières. Pourtant, vous alertez sur le fait que des pans de sa recherche sont privés de liberté…

Cela dépend des domaines. La France abrite des secteurs de recherche dynamiques, en pointe, innovants. C’est le cas pour la santé – la recherche contre le cancer ou les maladies génétiques, avec des expériences poussées en thérapie génique, en édition du génome –, les énergies renouvelables, la neutralité carbone, la chimie verte… Cela colle avec l’air du temps, répond aux grands enjeux sociétaux, notamment climatiques, internationaux et s’inscrit dans les priorités européennes. Sur ces sujets, il n’y a pas de pénurie d’argent, on peut mobiliser des chercheurs. Un bon exemple : l’Institut du cerveau et de la moelle épinière, à Paris, qui fait un travail remarquable et interdisciplinaire agrégeant aussi des sciences sociales sur les maladies neurodégénératives. Cependant, il existe des domaines devenus des tabous. Des repoussoirs politiques. C’est le cas de la recherche sur le clonage, ou sur les OGM, ma spécialité. La recherche française est en situation de blocage quasi-complet. Sa créativité est entravée, bridée, alors qu’elle a prouvé, par le passé, qu’elle pouvait être extrêmement fertile. Dans les laboratoires français, avant que les OGM ne soient ostracisés, on mettait au point des maïs avec une meilleure utilisation de l’azote dans le but de moins polluer les nappes phréatiques par les nitrates et de réduire les gaz à effet de serre ! Ils ont été vandalisés. La liberté de chercher a quasi disparu dans ce domaine, elle s’oriente sur d’autres outils.

Que s’est-il passé ?

Ces sujets ont été happés par la politique. On a calqué sur la recherche une grille de lecture grossière gauche/droite qui se traduit par anticapitalisme/libéralisme. Les biotechnologies végétales et particulièrement les …

-> l’Opinion

The Anthropocene-Fallacy: Learning from Wrong Ideas

anthropocene fallacy
The Anthropocene Fallacy. Source: TheMarketForIdeas.com

by Henrique Schneider*

This timely and important essay is an edited version of a paper that Henrique Schneider (CH) delivered as the opening at the IV. ECAEF/CEPROM Conference in Monaco on Dec. 10, 2019.

The Anthropocene is a proposed geological epoch dating from the commencement of significant human impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems, including, but not limited to, anthropogenic climate change. While it is not an academically established definition, as of yet, it is proposed to have begun in the 1950s. This article posits that the concept is erroneous in at least two ways. First, it relies on a normative, activist, appropriation of science. Second, is disregards the system-property of the ecosystem, which is marked by the continuous interaction between the system and its parts, or agents. But more than this, the idea of the Anthropocene is a case study for how activist agendas appropriate science and academia depriving it from an important academic feature, its skeptical method.

Science or activism?

“Anthropocene Syndrome: a complex of environmental degradation, biological annihilation in the form of species losses, non-communicable disease epidemics, climate change, and increasing incivility in public and professional discourse” (Prescott & Logan 2017, 19). This quote is indicative of many problems. First, it is a normative claim disguised as an academic piece; second, it is uninformed; and, third, it does not conform to the academic method.

Markers of the normativity in the quote are expressions such as “annihilation” and, ironically, the complaint about incivility in professional discourse. These indicate undeclared subjective preferences that might preclude the authors from applying the scientific method. More specifically, these preferences hinder the authors in reaching a conclusion that is independent from their own opinions. That, in fact, happens in the text, when the authors present their solution, similarly marked by normativity and reflective of their own opinions and not of a scientific argument. “The Symbiocene can transcend these trends. The health of people, place, and planet requires compassion, education by example, civility, and diversity of thought” (Prescott & Logan 2017, 41). Tellingly, the “scientific” word Anthropocene is identified as a problem, and the equally “scientific” expression Symbiocene, which seems to be at the same level of but contrary to the Anthropocene, is a solution.

The article is uninformed because, in spite of circa 150 endnotes, it does not once critically address its own assertions. There is not one counter argument, not even one that is refuted. All documentation is nothing but supportive for the normative claim of the authors. This might be a method, but it is not the scientific method, which method is characterized by steady skepticism, the multivariate test of theses or hypothesis with experiments and data or with pro- and counter-arguments in order to reach a conclusion that is independent from one’s intuition or opinion. In this skeptical method, not even the conclusion is definitive but invites to further skeptical investigation (Gauch et al. 2003).

Critically, one might argue that Prescott and Logan are just two scientists, their article is just one article (granted, an invited article that did not pass peer review), and the journal in which it was published is not ranked. The problem, however, goes beyond this article. The concept of the Anthropocene is indicative of how of activism is permeating academia, and even science; transforming both from an institutionalized skeptical method of discovery and creation of knowledge to a process of rationalization of opinions.

These academics sit in boards of multinational companies and other entities, often because of their scientific and academic pedigree. The very idea of having academic, or scientific, advice in these boards is because science is organized skepticism in the form of an expert opinion. Most importantly, methodological caution as it is embedded in the scientific method usually leads to proportional actions (Topitsch 1962). If this should cease to be the case, the case for academia as well as for its link to the practical world weakens, too …

Continue reading ->
The Anthropocene-Fallacy


*Henrique Schneider is a professor of economics at the Nordkademie University of Applied Sciences in Elmshorn, Germany and chief economist of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Bern, Switzerland.

Markets and Entrepreneurship – What are the Challenges?

With the following splendid introduction Peter A. Fischer* opened this years IV. CEPROM/ECAEF Conference in Monaco. This international conference series is designed, planned and organized by ECAEF, European Center for Austrian Economics Foundation, chartered in the Principality of Liechtenstein.

Markets and Entrepreneurship – What are the Challenges?

by Peter A. Fischer


* Peter A. Fischer is Economics-Editor-in-chief at Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) in Switzerland.


List of all Papers of the Conference

Kurt Leube:
Towards a Viable Alternative (.docx)

Terry L. Anderson:
Nature and Markets (.docx)

Johan Norberg:
Apocalypes Not (.docx)

Alex Kaiser:
Saving Nature from Politics (.docx)

Hardy Bouillon:
On the Misuse of Reason and Science (.docx)

Henrique Schneider:
Climate Change and Global Governance (.docx)

Pedro Schwartz:
The Tragedy of the Commons and Emerging Property Rights

Climate Change and Global Governance

The following paper by Henrique Schneider* was presented at the IV. ECAEF/CEPROM Conference on ‘Towards a Viable Alternative: Markets and Entrepreneurship to Protect the Environment’, 10 December 2019. Initiated by the European Center for Austrian Economics Foundation based in the Principality of Liechtenstein, this academic conference series is dedicated to the eminent late French scholar Jacques Rueff. The co-operation with CEPROM (Le Centre d’Etudes Prospectives pour Monaco) was highly appreciated.

Climate Change and Global Governance:
A Dilemma

by Henrique Schneider

Margaret Thatcher, in her autobiography, analyzes the centralizing tendencies of the European Union (EU). According to her, these tendencies are not the outcomes of one, single, benevolent or malevolent central force; instead, they are the result of a web of alliances and entangled motives. Thatcher diagnoses that:

The Franco-German federalist project was wholeheartedly supported by a variety of different elements within the Community – by poorer southern countries who expected a substantial payoff in exchange for its accomplishment; by northern businesses which hoped to foist their own high costs on to the competitors; by socialists because of the scope it offered for state intervention; by Christian Democrats whose political tradition was firmly corporatist; and, of course by the Commission which saw itself as the nucleus of a supranational government. (Thatcher 1993, p. 728)

Thatcher is equally alert to the problems such alliances pose, especially when they claim to be vehicles of a “moral good” or an “ideal”: “I had by now heard about as much of the European ‘ideal’ as I could take … In the name of this ideal, waste, corruption, and abuse of power were reaching levels which no one … could have foreseen” (ibid., p. 727).

While Thatcher’s specific critique targets the EU, the dynamics she describes can easily also be applied to the global debate on climate change. Since its launch in 1992, the administrative corpus and the international agreements under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have been growing. With its subsidiary bodies, panels, agencies, mechanisms, instruments, protocols, decisions, and secretariats, its annual climate conventions attract around 20,000 people, who gladly jet around the planet – to such locations as Rio de Janeiro, Bali, Santiago de Chile, Marrakesh, or Cancún – to press for action against climate change. In these negotiations, climate action almost always entails central planning and global governance …

Continue reading ->
Climate Change and Global Governance: A Dilemma (.docx)


* Henrique Schneider is a professor of economics at the Nordkademie University of Applied Sciences in Elmshorn, Germany and chief economist of the Swiss Federation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Bern, Switzerland.


List of all Papers of the Conference

Kurt Leube:
Towards a Viable Alternative (.docx)

Terry L. Anderson:
Nature and Markets (.docx)

Johan Norberg:
Apocalypes Not (.docx)

Alex Kaiser:
Saving Nature from Politics (.docx)

Hardy Bouillon:
On the Misuse of Reason and Science (.docx)

Henrique Schneider:
Climate Change and Global Governance (.docx)

Pedro Schwartz:
The Tragedy of the Commons and Emerging Property Rights

Saving Nature from Politics

The following paper by Alex Kaiser* was presented at the IV. ECAEF/CEPROM Conference on ‘Towards a Viable Alternative: Markets and Entrepreneurship to Protect the Environment’, 10 December 2019. Initiated by the European Center for Austrian Economics Foundation based in the Principality of Liechtenstein, this academic conference series is dedicated to the eminent late French scholar Jacques Rueff. The co-operation with CEPROM (Le Centre d’Etudes Prospectives pour Monaco) was highly appreciated.

Saving Nature from Politics: Toward a Classical Liberal Approach to Effective Environmental Protection

by Alex Kaiser

One of the central premises of classical liberalism maintains that social evolution is principally driven by ideas. Especially in a democracy, substantial reforms in any sphere of economic and social activity can only be made by changing the public’s widely held ideas. Environmental policies are no exception to this rule. Private solutions to environmental problems will simply not have a fair chance of becoming institutionalized (on a large scale) if the mainstream narrative on environmentalism is based on an ideology that is hostile to the free market, and if a collective memory is preserved that is oblivious to the progress that market-based solutions have forged in preserving nature. Indeed, nature now needs to be saved from politics by utilizing a classical liberal approach that goes far beyond technical and scientific solutions. The core of this approach must rest on ethical arguments capable of gaining sufficient public acceptance such that any proposals offered by free market environmentalism may reign supreme over public opinion.

The politics of ideas

It is hardly an exaggeration to state that politicians follow the ideas that have become fashionable within large sectors of the population. Those ideas, in turn, are created and spread by a small minority of intellectuals and thinkers who are largely unknown by the people who adopt their views. As Friedrich Hayek put it, the practical man “merely chooses from among the possible orders that are offered him and finally accepts a political doctrine or set of principles elaborated and presented by others.” This condition implies that a democracy cannot work if a great majority of its voters do not share common principles that enable them to reach agreements in order to resolve conflicts and to find solutions to problems that affect society at large. If politics, as the saying goes, is the art of the possible, then it is necessarily an activity that is limited by the ideas that form public opinion. Therefore, it is only by changing those ideas that reforms in any sphere of economic and social activity can be made. According to Wayne Leighton and Edward Lopez’s model of institutional change, prevailing ideas are largely but not solely defined by intellectuals. Their work has an impact on artists, historians, journalists, and other professionals who, in turn, have influence on the climate of public opinion. In the end, the climate of opinion creates common beliefs about the roles of government and the market …

Continue reading ->
Saving Nature from Politics (.docx)


* Alex Kaiser | Lawyer, Doctor in Philosophy from Heidelberg University (Germany), executive director of the ‘Foundation for Progress’ in Chile.


List of all Papers of the Conference

Kurt Leube:
Towards a Viable Alternative (.docx)

Terry L. Anderson:
Nature and Markets (.docx)

Johan Norberg:
Apocalypes Not (.docx)

Alex Kaiser:
Saving Nature from Politics (.docx)

Hardy Bouillon:
On the Misuse of Reason and Science (.docx)

Henrique Schneider:
Climate Change and Global Governance (.docx)

Pedro Schwartz:
The Tragedy of the Commons and Emerging Property Rights