By Bryan Caplan
2. The long-run benefits of war are highly uncertain. Some wars
– most obviously the Napoleonic Wars and World War II – at least
arguably deserve credit for decades of subsequent peace. But many
other wars – like the French Revolution and World War I – just sowed
the seeds for new and greater horrors. You could say, “Fine, let’s
only fight wars with big long-run benefits.” In practice, however,
it’s very difficult to predict a war’s long-run consequences. One of
the great lessons of Tetlock’s Expert Political Judgment is that foreign policy experts are much more certain of their predictions than they have any right to be.
At Aidwatchers, my former student Adam Martin elegantly applies the premise:
Does anyone with superior knowledge care to offer Adam a bet? Remember: Since you’re confident, and he’s ignorant, you have every reason to give him odds.