Gunnar Adler-Karlsson om vad Gunnar Myrdal hade tänkt idag


Professor Gunnar Adler-Karlsson, en av de få lärda i detta land som vågar tänka annorlunda och därtill har kognitiv kapacitet att formulera sina tankar på ett stringent sätt, mediterar här över vad hans mentor, Nobelpristagaren Gunnar Myrdal (1898-1987), sannolikt skulle ha gjort för reflektioner kring det senaste kvartsseklets utveckling.

Myrdal A celebration of a creation. Or: A meditation over an invitation to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the, by Gunnar Myrdal created, Swedish Institute for International Economic Studies.

51 years ago Gunnar Myrdal had a daughter who was married to the President of Harvard. I had a Fulbright Scholarship at Harvard. One evening I was invited to a dinner with the President to meet Myrdal. He filled the evening with his intention to create an Institute for International Economic Studies in Stockholm.

“Finish what you are doing," he said “and then come and join me". So I did. He became kind of a mental father for me. Sometimes he even called me his son.

However, I will not spend my time to look backwards, but forwards. And I will dare to imagine what kind of studies Gunnar Myrdal would have suggested today.


You will never understand anything of it, Myrdal often told me, when I was writing a book on the economic warfare between the United States and the Soviet Union, UNLESS YOU TAKE A LONG PERSPECTIVE.

Now, 50 years is not very much for a perspective. Let us take a look at one, ten times longer. In this very year 2012, it is, for instance, 500 years since Nicolai Copernicus told his closest friends of his findings, since 1543 named Revolutionibus Orbium Caelestium.

Is 500 years a long perspective? Mankind, our sort, the Homo sapiens, has existed for about 200,000 years. 500 years in 200,000 is about 0.25 %.

What does that tell us? It tells us that for 99.75 % of our existence we have either had no idea whatsoever about the universe or, during the latest three- or four thousand years, the completely wrong and haughty idea that we were the centre of the universe, and that the sun was running around us, with Jerusalem as the very centre.

A basic question Gunnar Myrdal may have put today is if we, in some ways, will be seen as equally ignorant, or seriously wrong, on some important truth, 500 years from now or another 0.25 % of our human existence.

And, also, may such a yet unknown ignorance be dangerous for the very survival of mankind?


Myrdal would surely have followed relevant literature, especially such as Nature and Science. Or books like Fred Guterl’s The Fate of the Species. With the subtitle: Why the human race may cause its own extinction and how we can stop it.

That author is a bit scared of yet unknown superviruses, of our too rapid destruction of nature, of climate change and disruption of ecosystems, as well as of synthetic biology and new bioweapons.

In his final chapter, however, he gives us some, but not very convincing, hope, pointing to human “ingenuity". (For a short summary, see Nature 17 may 2012, p. 307.)


To be nice to his colleagues, Myrdal may NOT have quoted what Robert Trivers, in a brilliant book on The Folly of Fools, has written about economists.

It is enough to give the subtitle of that book: The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life.

Which, of course, can have nothing whatsoever to do with our now five years old and somewhat muddy economic crises, in both the United States and in Europe.


Myrdal may also have combined Copernicus and Fred Gutler. How? Today we do not burn deviating scholars from permitted thinking, as was done in 1600 with Gordano Bruno because he believed in Copernicus’ heliocentric view of the universe. For a couple of hundred years the church suppressed that knowledge.

Do our powerful leaders today supress something, even if in less violent ways ? Would Myrdal have found an example in the little optimism that Fred Gutler gives us? That the human “ingenuity" will save us from extinction!

Gunnar Myrdal was given his many deeply appreciating honoris causabecause he was brave enough to study the “American Dilemma", the problems of white and coloured humans living together in the United States. That was a subject that in 1944 was most dangerous to tackle.

Today, Myrdal might have put a question to Gutler: OK, he might say, ingenuity may surely help us solve a number of problems. BUT DOES EVERYBODY HAVE THE SAME INGENUITY???

If not, will it help some of us, BUT NOT ALL? Would I be permitted, today, to publish a book on “A Human Dilemma on Global ingenuity or intelligence differences"???

Ingenuity is something that comes very close to intelligence, a subject that has been very dangerous to tackle. And still so is!

Myrdal would likely have got the most recent and important book we have on that subject: Intelligence A Unifying Construct for the Social Sciences. Published in 2012.

That is the title of a book by two equally important as neglected scientists, Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen.
Their many years of research, however, has never been accepted by the truly big and serious publishers. Why not?

Because of the beloved idea that human beings are all equally intelligent! If so, none of the big economic differences between different groups of people are caused by IQ-differences.

In their new book Lynn and Vanhanen present an infinite amount of IQ-figures. These strongly help us to understand why we have human differences in per capita income, in poverty and in unequality.

This, they conclude, against all humanistic hopes and desires, “suggests that human possibilities to equalize economic conditions seem to be quite limited." (p. 120)


Gunnar Myrdal did not give much for “mathematical" economy. He knew the weakness of man! And that the “free market" wasn’t very free!

The present economic crisis in both Europe and the USA is to a large extent a question of how “the market" reacts to political actions. That is of “traders" who, to the benefit of the extremely rich, can move speculative billions of dollars in a single day or even in a few seconds.

Do those, or their billionaire masters, have the ingenuity and the intelligence to – in a wise manner – guide all of mankind for another 500 coming years of potential human existence?

One trader, in a recent interview in International Herald Tribune, said that his job was “less about economic fundamentals and more about fundamental human emotions it is about fear". What guided him as a trader was “…a complex, volatile mixture of informed insight combined with gut feel and heard instinct." (IHT 4-5 Aug. 2012.)

The people who create jobs for traders are to a large extent those who drive both the global economy, and also the all too fast extinctions of many forms of life other than the human one.

There is hardly a month passing, without some new findings about the dangerous consequences of this for us humans. The latest of important warnings came from 22 experts on the Earth’s biosphere. They pointed out that whole ecological systems could shift, “abruptly and irreversibly…as a result of
human influence". (Nature 7 June 2012, p. 52)


What Gunnar Myrdal now could be missing are very serious studies of the historical fact of extinctions of our own closest forefathers. A top expert, like Charles Lockwood at the London Natural History Museum, counts 21 members in our over six million years hominine family. But Myrdal rarely would find any modern economists or social scientists who point out that 20 of these, our closest relatives, are gone. Twenty of the twenty one have died and become research-material for today’s palaeontology researchers.

In this situation Myrdal would have loved serious students who would convince our leaders that if also the 21st of the 21 ever living hominines would disappear, then Mother Nature’s attempt to create a somewhat extra intelligent animal would be gone and gone forever!

I am sure that Gunnar Myrdal would try to stimulate good economists to tackle this situation, to try to create survival for at least another one %, or 2.000 years, of our “sapiens" history.

That sounds much. But it is not more time than what has gone since Tiberius played around on the wonderful island of Capri or an extremely wise man, hanging on a cross, said “father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing!" [Citatet indikerar att människan inte är utrustad med så mycket fri vilja som hon gärna vill tro att hon har? / Reaktion]

If we do not succeed in that, there will be nobody around, able to ask Mother Nature to forgive the ignorant men who took us all into the eternal oblivion.
Gunnar Adler-Karlsson
5 sept. 2012

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