Patterico's Pontifications


A Real Hockey-Stick Graph

Filed under: General — Karl @ 4:02 am

[Posted by Karl]

From The Economist (via AoSHQ and Dr. Mark J. Perry), a population-weighted history of the past two millennia:

Measured in years lived, the present century, which is only ten years old, is already “longer” than the whole of the 17th century. This century has made an even bigger contribution to economic history. Over 23% of all the goods and services made since 1AD were produced from 2001 to 2010 ***.

For century after century, the human race remained mired in poverty. Life was nasty, brutish and short.  Then an incredible explosion of prosperity.  How did it happen?

In Civilization: The West and the Rest, Niall Ferguson argues that, beginning around 1500, the West came to dominate the rest of the world because it adopted a system including: competition, science, property rights, medicine, the consumer society, and the work ethic.  Yet the explosion comes centuries later.  In Bourgeois Dignity, Deirdre N. McCloskey argues the explosion was ignited by a new attitude toward wealth and its creation — one that respected innovation and entrepreneurial drive.

In his column on McCloskey’s book, Rich Lowry notes:

Unfortunately, we have a president of the United States who has been a member his entire adult life of what McCloskey — borrowing from Samuel Taylor Coleridge — calls “the clerisy.” These are the intellectualoids who never lost their instinctual scorn for commercial activity. Can you imagine Barack or Michelle Obama routinely urging college students to contribute to hope and change by entering the innovative economy’s great swirl of creative destruction?

Unfortunately, special interests will always pursue anti-innovation trade and regulatory policies to protect their fiefdoms.

Unfortunately, it’s easier to prop up what’s old than foster what’s new. A few years ago, the Federal Reserve handed out billions upon billions of dollars to practically every large, established firm in America.

The problem may be larger than the clerisy’s antipathy to competition.  They want to stifle scientific debate when it suits their politics.  They have little regard for property rights.  They will stifle medical innovation.  They indiscriminately bemoan materialism.  They never wanted welfare reform and have been busying themselves rolling it back.  All of it done in the name of “progress,” of course.


80 Responses to “A Real Hockey-Stick Graph”

  1. I would suggest that much of the beginnings of the improvement were due to the printing press.

    Once you have the free(er) dissemination of ideas, one thing builds on another and before you know it you’ve changed the world.

    scrubone (dbb35d)

  2. Geeze, exactly how difficult would it have been to normalize the 21st century to 100 years, so it could be directly compared to the rest? Interesting subject, bad graph design.

    Brett Bellmore (6652c2)

  3. Everything salient about Obama’s character/worldview/political and racial outlook could be inferred by his actions as a, um, “community organizer” in Chicago housing projects.

    Note to Bammy: a housing project is not *supposed* to turn into a “community.” Public housing is supposed to be a temporary aid to people in poor circumstances, until they are secure enough to move on and establish themselves in a *real* community; like rent control, it isn’t supposed to be a stagnant, generations-long, permanent settlement. More than two generations in a housing project and U R DOIN IT RONG.

    The fact that Bammy spent his time trying to improve buildings for his permanently-settled “community” instead of encouraging/advising them to (Sam Kinison voice) MOOOVE!!! is the fundamental wrong turn informing his outlook.

    d. in c. (6d8a47)

  4. I can’t make heads or tails of the graph. What information is being displayed and what is the significance of years lived?

    ropelight (30a542)

  5. I think the explanations from Ferguson et al about the West are a little florid, and have a bit of the smell of a just-so story about them. For instance Rome and Byzantium, China, and the medieval Islamic world all had steadily improving science, medicine, advanced trade etc. What did they all have in common that held them back? Ah yes, that’s right, we’d all nearly forgotten about it…

    From 1683 until now, the West did not have neighboring swarms of vicious stupid invading barbarians to constantly fight off and/or swamp them and/or ruin them. The Romans had the Goths, the Greeks had the Bulgars, Turks and Arabs, the Arabs in turn had the Mongols, the Chinese had the Mongols and the Manchus. All those civilizations were doing pretty good until someone showed up to wreck everything.

    But after the second siege of Vienna the West had pretty much put the Turks to bed, the Russians to the east were onside, and for a few blessed centuries there were no new hordes swarming out of Asia. Oh, and plus the windfall of the New World. That was a nice bonus.

    That little party is now over, and the West is fully on schedule to have its bones picked clean by Third World pauper factories and sharp-elbowed Asiatics. The weird thing is that this time an entire prosperous civilization will be wrecked without a shot being fired. Huh.

    d. in c. (6d8a47)

  6. Reported to Attackwatch.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  7. It wasn’t the printing press so much as the Scientific Method that used cheap printing to disseminate ideas. By the end of the 17th century, science was in full swing. It is no coincidence that the first intellectual property laws (Queen Anne) came into existence at that time.

    Allowing innovation to build upon itself via open communication while protecting inventor’s rights to make money on their invention started the ball rolling. The steam era wasn’t far behind.

    Kevin M (563f77)

  8. And it is China’s lack of IP protection that may be the beginning of the end. If things get driven back to trade secrets and innovation is hidden, all the multiplier effects fail. If there is one trade task for the next president, it is to get China to accept intellectual property as being as inviolate as, say, Treasury bonds.

    Kevin M (563f77)

  9. Educators used to teach this in every high school and college in America, often in history classes like Western Civilization. Too bad they don’t do that anymore.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  10. #1 and #7:

    The real change was the toleration of the printing press. Gutenberg would have been stoned to death in the Middle East and that would have put a stop to the innovation that brought down the Catholic Church.

    AZ Bob (aa856e)

  11. DRJ

    I look at that graph and women beginning to gain equal access to the workforce also seems to be a major factor

    EricPWJohnson (8a4ca7)

  12. Don’t buy the graph but whatever.

    Point is the Elites have always hated free enterprise b/c it is the very threat to their status.

    Always has, always has been.

    Bob Turner (8d652e)

  13. always will be, sorry.

    Bob Turner (8d652e)

  14. Nice graphic of a genepool rotting in situ.

    How apropos that the antiChrist is a fool.

    gary gulrud (790d43)

  15. I think at least one commenter has mistaken the 21st century graph for a total, rather than in-progress. Think of it as a decade up against the previous CENTURIES.

    Kevin M (563f77)

  16. Kevin,

    Yep, but with the massive influx of women into the workforce worldwide in the last 20 years that has to be a major contributor, that and the fall of communism

    EricPWJohnson (8a4ca7)

  17. I don’t really ‘get’ the graph, either. Is “years lived” the method by which it accounts for population growth? And if the overall point is that there was an industrial revolution in the 19th century that led to mass production in the 20th . . . well, duh!

    Icy Texan (066874)

  18. Is “years lived” the method by which it accounts for population growth?

    Years lived on the graph represents the total man-years lived in that century, as a percentage of all the man-years lived in history.

    As such, it represents both the growth in population and the lengthening of average life span.

    Chuck Bartowski (4c6c0c)

  19. I think it is all due to the womynz. Oh, and the communisms. Yeah, that’s the ticket. And Reagan.

    JD (318f81)

  20. “Years Lived“…
    I beieve that it represents a percentage of the total man-years lived in each century since the start of the graft, which accounts for the increases in longevity in the last 200 years that have dramatically improved the wealth of society, since everyone is able to live longer and attain more.

    Comment by d. in c. — 9/18/2011 @ 7:24 am
    Since when did the Plantation Owners freely educated and release their hands?

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (393ab8)


    /Sarcasm off

    DohBiden (d54602)

  22. It’s interesting to compare the comments here with the comments at the same post at Hot Air.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  23. Just imagine how much more economic output we would have in a world without borders and world without fossil fuels. The mind boggles!

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  24. Also, it seems to me that the graph illustrates how an explosion of ideas occurred — including things like the printing press and the Scientific method — but I submit they occurred because of the advent of “competition, science, property rights, medicine, the consumer society, and the work ethic.” Thus, rather than which invention came first, it was the synergy of values that made advances possible at that historical moment. (This website chronicling the timeline of inventions and advances is also fun.)

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  25. Comment by daleyrocks — 9/18/2011 @ 12:05 pm

    See graph results for Century 7!

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (393ab8)

  26. Comment by DRJ — 9/18/2011 @ 11:57 am

    Isn’t it amazing how powerful and compelling HotAir commenters are on the actions of political candidates?

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (393ab8)

  27. I dunno what’s going on in comment #20 but those are not my words, the quote has naught to do with me. I’m not even sure what it means, frankly.

    #22 DRJ — Exactly how and why is it interesting? What are you getting at? (asked in all honesty, I really can’t tell…)

    d. in c. (ac417f)

  28. “…The fact that Bammy spent his time trying to improve buildings for his permanently-settled “community” instead of encouraging/advising them to (Sam Kinison voice) MOOOVE!!! is the fundamental wrong turn informing his outlook.” c. @ 12:30 pm, that is what I was responding to.
    It was all about keeping a dependent class “on the plantation”, and not empowering anyone;
    which would neccessarily imply that you were trying to improve their lives so that they could ultimately leave the “plantation”;
    ie, public housing.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (393ab8)

  29. d. in c.,

    It’s just interesting to me to compare the same essay posted at 2 fairly similar websites. Both sets of commenters (myself included) were initially unclear how the graph was generated and what it portrays but, after that, the discussions seemed to veer off in very different directions. I think that’s interesting since I had assumed there were many similarities between Hot Air commenters and Patterico commenters. Now I’m curious whether the comments to Karl’s posts always vary like that.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  30. I find it discouraging that, except for what seemed like a very brief period at the beginning, HotAir does not allow the registration of new commenters.
    They must be very comfortable with the captured audience that they have.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (393ab8)

  31. I believe the legend title “When history was made” ascribing equal weight to each year of life to all rather silly.

    All of the ancients we can name lived into their 70’s and later, deaths in childbirth and during the first year’s of life simply skew the life-span measures.

    Beside pasteurization and antibiotics, sterile surgery we now prolong lives with no evident contribution to “history”.

    Take Steven Hawking, best known for the theory that black holes evaporate by means of virtual particle tunneling. His only test of the theory’s soundness has failed.

    String theorists, the successor to QCD, have yet to produce a single testable prediction in a half-century of work.

    In a less wealthy period of human existence, Hawking would have died unremarked, string theorists would have been tradesmen, mercantilists or clergymen–utterly redundant.

    gary gulrud (790d43)

  32. Anaxagoras is noted in history as one of the citizens Athenians banished from their number for proposing the Sun was a hot rock in the sky, about the size of the Peloponnesus.

    I’d say all the string theorists rolled together deserve no more mention.

    gary gulrud (790d43)

  33. gulrud is correct. String theorists take a smidgen of empirical data and extrapolate it into that scientific Holy Grail: the theory that explains everything. Wish-fulfillment fantasies is a big part of what they do.

    Icy Texan (066874)

  34. I find it discouraging that, except for what seemed like a very brief period at the beginning, HotAir does not allow the registration of new commenters.
    They must be very comfortable with the captured audience that they have.

    That would seem to explain the in-bred behavior of many of those who comment.

    ColonelHaiku (601b0d)

  35. “…All of the ancients we can name lived into their 70′s and later…”

    Mostly, we know them because they were known to have “beat the odds” in living so long, and were learned enough to write things down that someone wanted to preserve.
    What we don’t know about, at least by name, are the untold millions who led those “nasty, brutal, and short” lives, and died before, during, and briefly after, puberty (adolescence).
    We do know that famines, plagues, and seemingly continuous warfare were not the conditions to generate great longevity.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (393ab8)

  36. A question for “string theorists”:
    Should you wind a ball towards, or away, from you?

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (393ab8)

  37. It depends. Which way do you unroll toilet paper?

    Kevin M (563f77)

  38. BTW, this goes well with Hans Rosling’s video on lifespan and wealth.

    Kevin M (563f77)

  39. The leftys lie about this just like how they lie and insist the KKK is far-right when they are far-left.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  40. Comment by Kevin M — 9/18/2011 @ 3:17 pm

    Well, it depends on which side of the Equator you’re on.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (393ab8)

  41. Dems are uncomfortable remembering their para-military/terrorist past.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (393ab8)

  42. Agree that the chart is not explained.

    koam @wittier (9730e4)

  43. It is 100% directly related to the King James Bible of 1611. Anywhere God’s Book has been taught, preached and lived in any real capacity (England, Germany and US) it produces real fruit and anywhere the Dark Age text of the Roman Catholic church has been taught like South/Central America,etc.. these places produce the most rotten corrupt fruit anywhere and most of them dont even count as a 3rd world country. Then, England Germany and US in the last 150 years deciceded to dump God’s Book for 250+ Bible versions which ALL come from the Dark Age text and look what happened. Evolution, sodomy, crime rate explosion and more war in the last 150 years than the preceeding 1850 years. This isn’t anyone’s opinion this is scientific observable fact. Jesus Christ died for your sins according to scripture, was buried and rose again the third day according to scripture. Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Back to the Bible or back to the jungle and I mean african jungle!

    jtb1611 (675d32)

  44. What do you have against catholics you twat?

    DohBiden (d54602)

  45. All the communist dictators we have now especially their islamic versions are secretly salivating over that bigots remarks.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  46. The KKK is neither right nor left, but it is and always has been comprised of registered Democrats.

    Kevin M (563f77)

  47. DRJ,

    The comments often vary between here and HotAir. My expectation was that would be the case, which is why I agreed to cross-post there.

    Another Drew – Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks,

    HotAir has opened registration from time to time, but it has been a while since the last time.

    While I haven’t spoken to Allahpundit about it directly, I would not be surprised to learn that this is related to the fact that it becomes more difficult to moderate comments — especially at times of high emotion like elections — as the commenter pool expands. Again, I don’t know this for a fact, but I have been asked to moderate comments for such occasions,which suggests to me that Ed and AP have a hard time moderating and keeping the site current under those conditions.

    Karl (37b303)

  48. Ah but the good Dr. forgets one major factor in longer life, and that is cleanliness. We no longer have animal excrement in our streets that draws flys. Flys that carry disease. people wash almost daily with the advent of the shower, also the indoor flushable toilets.

    Medicine is the biggest improvement, but don’t discount how clean we have made things cutting down on disease. Drinking water thats not harmful, simple things when you think about it.

    jainphx (1adca1)

  49. BTW, the chart is further explained at The Economist, but the post there is relatively short and did not want to run afoul of fair-use rules.

    Also, the source of most of the data is the late Angus Maddison, perhaps the most respected economic historian ever.

    Karl (37b303)

  50. Certainly, indoor plumbing is the single greatest extender of life expectancy. Well, probably a tie between that and having obstetricians/midwifes wash their hands.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  51. I wonder if “death by violence” and/or “death by warfare” (as a percentage of all deaths during a period) isn’t at an all time low.

    Kevin M (563f77)

  52. Kevin M:

    Just for the record, I misread your comments on another thread and I owe you an apology.


    Ag80 (9a213d)

  53. The left hates big business for the economy going down the toilet but gives Maobama a pass for making the economy worse.

    Corporations don’t deserve their wealths.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  54. That is what I get from those namby-pamby protesters.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  55. “Certainly, indoor plumbing is the single greatest extender of life expectancy.”

    SPQR – Living surrounded by liberals, I try to avoid indoor plumbing whenever possible. I figure the ecotards don’t mind me going green unless they catch, the NIMBY hypocrites.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  56. catch me

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  57. Daleyrocks can you believe the lefturds saying abortion critics hate women?

    DohBiden (d54602)

  58. A man should own enough land so that he can go outside and piss anywhere he wants.

    AZ Bob (aa856e)

  59. no problem ag80.

    Kevin M (563f77)

  60. _______________________________________________

    The KKK is neither right nor left, but it is and always has been comprised of registered Democrats.

    Even as a conservative — and admitting that rightist biases can sometimes lead to overly pro-conformist sentiments (eg, an overly sensitive reaction to racial differences within a group of people) — I would have once nodded my head in agreement at your remark in a rather sheepish way, sensing that it perhaps also was a bit of Pollyanna spin. But now I realize your comment is more on target than even I was aware of not long ago…, March 2011:

    Typical opinion polls reported in the news average a response rate of under 20%, and some observers speculate that the real response rates for some prominent surveys may be as low as 1% of the people they contact. The General Social Survey [conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago], on the other hand, usually averages about a 70% response rate, the highest in the industry for a large-scale survey of the general U.S. public.

    The most recent survey for which results were available when I began this project a few weeks ago was the 2008 survey. Who are these people who want to shrink government and are they really less educated and more racist than the general public?

    Looking back over eighteen General Social Surveys since 1975, in every one those who wanted smaller government had significantly more education than the rest of the public, measured both by mean years of education and by mean highest final educational degree. Typically, the well educated are less racist than the general public.

    Social scientists usually measure traditional racism against African Americans by looking at the survey responses of white Americans only. Among whites in the latest General Social Survey (2008), only 4.5% of small-government advocates express the view that “most Blacks/African-Americans have less in-born ability to learn,” compared to 12.3% of those who favor bigger government or take a middle position expressing this racist view .

    We social scientists sometimes like to express things in relative odds, especially for small percentages. Here the odds of small government whites not expressing racist views (21-to-1 odds) is three times higher than the odds of big-government whites not being racist (7-to-1 odds).

    Republican advocates of smaller government are even less racist (1.3% believing that blacks have less in-born ability) than the rest of the general public (11.3% expressing racist views). Thus, in 2008 Republicans who believe that the government in Washington does too much have 10 times higher odds of not expressing racist views on the in-born ability question than the rest of the population (79-to-1 odds v. 7.9-to-1 odds).

    What about conservative Republicans more generally, not just the ones who want a smaller government? Surely they must be more racist. Actually not. In 2008, only 5.4% of white conservative Republicans expressed racist views on the in-born ability question, compared to 10.3% of the rest of the white population.

    [T]his same pattern holds for white Democrats compared to white Republicans: in 2008 12.3% of white Democrats in the U.S. believed that African Americans were born with less ability, compared to only 6.6% of white Republicans.

    Another traditional racism question — on segregated neighborhoods — was asked on fifteen General Social Surveys from 1972 through 1996. Though the percentage of white Democrats and white Republicans who slightly or strongly agreed that “White people have a right to keep Blacks out of their neighborhoods” did not differ significantly in any one survey, overall white Democrats were significantly more likely to support segregated neighborhoods than white Republicans (30.4% to 26.3%).

    Mark (411533)

  61. I suspect that the proprietors of might review, and seriously entertain, any polite and well-written email asking that its sender be added to their rolls of authorized commenters. The sender might improve the odds by including links to some of his or her previous comments here or elsewhere.

    Beldar (297c12)

  62. I used to communicate with Ed at Captain’s Table; but, if PowerLine would have some registration system other than Yahoo, or Facebook, I’d rather comment there.
    Anyway, I would have no way to write to anyone at HotAir as my old address book crashed (thank you Bill Jr.).

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (393ab8)

  63. The problem may be larger than the clerisy’s antipathy to competition.

    As I have commented here and elsewhere… The postmodernist liberal left has targeted ALL of the ideas, concepts, and systems which The West has inherited from the Greeks.

    All of these things represent the underlying basis for everything that has made the West uniquely successful in the history of mankind. While The West has failed to live up to its ideals many times, and has even committed awful mistakes in its slow progress to improve the quality of humanity, it has steadfastly moved in that direction for the last three centuries and more.

    The Postmodernists have repeatedly, even endlessly, attempted to undermine those ideas which has made all of this progress possible, even to the point of denying that any progress has been made, which only a madman could lay claim to and not be blatantly lying.

    The Postmodernists are a cancer eating away at our society, an acid corroding the very foundation of our civil state.

    The “clerisy” is but one aspect of this group.

    Smock Puppet, Corrector of Fallacious Propositions (c9dcd8)

  64. Ah but the good Dr. forgets one major factor in longer life, and that is cleanliness.

    LOL, most people don’t even VAGUELY REALIZE how much cleaner we are:


    Note: the above is, well, distasteful. Legitimate, real, and not in any way obscene… it’s just something that will likely make anyone in modern civil society go, “Ewwww! Really?”.

    Smock Puppet, Corrector of Fallacious Propositions (c9dcd8)

  65. Re: the above comment regarding the KJV Bible.

    The printing press allowed the fast dissemination of Luther’s works, which allowed the protestant reformation.

    By reducing the influence of the Roman church, the reformation allowed science and other knowledge to begin flourishing.

    While we might argue as to whether the protestants were right, there is no doubt that breaking the power of the Roman church allowed many new ideas to flourish, and the protest work ethic didn’t hurt either.

    scrubone (dbb35d)

  66. protestant work ethic. The protest one came later :)

    scrubone (dbb35d)

  67. The protest one came later

    That would be the one The Great Big 0, aka “President Downgrade” is spearheading, right?

    Smock Puppet, Corrector of Fallacious Propositions (c9dcd8)

  68. “the chart is further explained at The Economist”

    I had a subscription to the Economist the last couple of decades of the last millenium. Their quality of research and argumentation went in the crapper:

    History is driven by the powerful. Until recent times the powerless, the infirm and the stupid were ruthlessly eliminated by natural and human selection.

    Sparta had a pile where unwanted infants were discarded. The Romans opposed Christianity in part due to its opposition to infanticide.

    The advantages of wealth are responsible for population growth, yet the pendulum has reached its limit.

    gary gulrud (790d43)

  69. #67 is overly simplistic. Some of these remarks sound like they were cut ‘n paste straight out of a mediocre high school history textbook.

    btw, am I supposed to take it that people actually read the comments at Hot Air?

    d. in c. (ac417f)

  70. If only we praised the high priest of the eco-thuggee movement.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  71. Look! A graph!

    Look! Some opinions!


    Leviticus (b85154)

  72. Ya mean the gorebots?

    DohBiden (d54602)

  73. Huh?

    Leviticus (b85154)

  74. What?

    Leviticus (180ca0)

  75. Leviticus, your point would be? Other than to demonstrate proof positive of what was already suspected, which is that you’re utterly clueless, I mean?

    Since you ARE so clueless, I’ll take the time to spell it out for ya:
    DohBiden’s point would be that your little ditty, there, was a definite description of Al and his Gorettes and their little sing-song minstrel tap-and-dance magical shows with zero content, negative truth value, and lots — LOTS!! — of pretty pictures and graphs… all of them in COLOR even!!

    Another point for you — Attempting to make light of something in complete lieu of actual argument on points is generally the first sign of someone who has no argument in the first place. Perhaps there is one somewhere between your ears, but I’m putting my money on the negatory. This would follow directly from your blatantly evident overall lack of a clue….

    Smock Puppet, Corrector of Idiotic Propositions (c9dcd8)

  76. The purity cultists will consider Palin too far left because Nader praised her but if Nader praises Perry they act as if nothing happened.

    DohBiden (d54602)

  77. A man should own enough land so that he can go outside and piss anywhere he wants.

    Hell, his neighbor should own enough land that he can go outside and piss almost anywhere that he wants…

    “Peace is an extension of war by political means. Plenty of elbow room is
    much pleasanter — and much safer.”

    – Lazarus Long(R. A. Heinlein) –

    Smock Puppet, Corrector of Idiotic Propositions (c9dcd8)

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