Friday, December 2, 2011

Economy: The Cult Of The Peak

The zeitgeist rules. Its name is pessimism. Part of the negative zeitgeist is the cult of the peak. For instance many experts tell us that global oil production has reached its the peak, they call it the "peak oil" ( If this is true oil production would drop, driving the world into a new energy crisis, the "peak oil crisis". You can find a lot more alleged peaks: A new study claims that at least the Britons are consuming less, than they did a decade ago ( Reuters calls this the "peak stuff". Others lament that the speed of innovations & inventions has peaked (google), or that incomes & wealth in U.S.  have peaked and so on and so on.

Now the cult of the peak has a new blossom: The "peak of life expectancy", which I found on the media portal "Business Insider" ( It is a contribution by the blog "Angry Bear"  ( which refers to the blog "Macrobusiness" ( The blog "Naked Capitalism" also refers to this thesis ( 

On "Angry Bear" I found this statement (angrybearblog): "Life expectancy has peaked in some US States according to recent research. This follows research published in 2005 that suggests current living children may not outlive their parents, and that peak life expectancy in the US may be reached between 2030 and 2040". The blog has a link to the "Institute for Health Metrics and Evalution" (, but this connection didn`t function.

Anyway: I consider the "life-expectancy-peak" thesis as nonsense. It is just a kowtow to the pessimistic zeitgeist! Like many other peak claims, the "life-expectancy-peak" thesis uses some undigested statistics. "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics" joked once Disraeli. "The only statistics you can trust are those you falsified yourself" agreed Winston Churchill.

Life, and the development of the whole humankind, doesn`t advance in straight lines. History moves in waves, with occasional ups- and downs. It needs some distance to discover the trend. Therefore it doesn`t make sense to use a short term movement and to try to extrapolate it. In the short term statistical data occur randomly and they are difficult to measure (this is one of the reasons why the quarterly reported growth numbers of the GDP are at least revised 2-times). Because of their weaknesses statistics can easily be manipulated and be bend for a certain purpose.

I am convinced that the trend of growing life expectancy, which started many centuries ago, will continue. One of the reasons is the general learning process. We are getting better in the things we do, even in health care.  The technical progress (including the advances in the sciences) will continue  to create better pharmeceutical and better methods to diagnose and to cure illnesses and therefore expanding our lifespan.

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