[sahy-muhn; Fr. see-mawn for 7]
van der Meer, Simon, 1925-, Dutch physical engineer. He spent his career at CERN, where he did his most important work with Carlo Rubbia. They discovered the subatomic particles W and Z, which convey the weak force, one of nature's four fundamental forces. For their discovery, they were awarded the 1984 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Greenleaf, Simon, 1783-1853, American legal writer, b. Newburyport, Mass. A member of the Maine bar, he won a high reputation for legal scholarship early in his career. With the admission (1820) of Maine as a state, he was elected to a term in the legislature and was appointed reporter of the Maine supreme court. In 1833 he resigned this position and accepted the invitation of Joseph Story to become a professor of law at Harvard. Much of the excellence of Harvard Law School is attributed to these two men. Greenleaf's Treatise on the Law of Evidence (3 vol., 1842-53) for many years was the standard American work on the subject. Another text used for many years was his revision (5 vol., 1849-50) of William Cruise's Digest of the Law of Real Property.
Langham, Simon, d. 1376, English prelate and statesman, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He ruled the abbey of Westminster with such skill that Edward III appointed (1360) him treasurer and chancellor (1363). Created bishop of Ely in 1362, Langham rose to be archbishop of Canterbury (1366). His acceptance of the red hat without royal permission led to a breach with Edward, and Langham resigned (1368). He went to Avignon, where he held office at the court of Pope Gregory XI.
Flexner, Simon, 1863-1946, American pathologist, b. Louisville, Ky., M.D. Univ. of Louisville, 1889; brother of Abraham Flexner. He served with the Rockefeller Institute (now Rockfeller Univ.) from 1903 to 1935 (as its first director, 1920-35) and was Eastman professor at Oxford from 1937 to 1938. He worked on experimental epidemiology and venoms and is known especially for his serum treatment of cerebrospinal meningitis and for his studies of poliomyelitis. He also isolated a bacillus of dysentery.
Simon, Saint, in the New Testament, one of the Twelve Apostles. In the Gospels he is called the Canaanite or Cananaean or Zelotes, synonymous terms referring probably to association with the sect of Zealots. Feast (with St. Jude): Oct. 28.
Simon, in the Bible. 1 One of the Maccabees. 2 or Simon Peter: see Peter, Saint. 3 See Simon, Saint. 4 Kinsman of Jesus. 5 Leper of Bethany in whose house a woman anointed Jesus' feet. He may have been the father of Lazarus. 6 Pharisee in whose house Jesus was entertained. 7 Father of Judas Iscariot. 8 See Simon of Cyrene. 9 Tanner of Joppa with whom Peter stayed. 10 See Simon Magus.
Simon, Antoine, 1736-94, French revolutionary, often called "the shoemaker," a member of the Commune of Paris. He and his wife guarded the dauphin, Louis XVII, in prison. Their reputed brutality and coarseness made them infamous. A friend of Maximilien Robespierre and Jean Paul Marat, Simon was executed after the coup of 9 Thermidor.
Simon, Claude Eugène Henri, 1913-2005, French novelist. He was born in Antananarivo, Madagascar, and studied at Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge. He fought in World War II both as a soldier and later in the resistance. During the 1950s he became known as one of the major writers of the French nouveau roman [new novel] (see French literature); his style is characterized by the use of interior monologue and an absence of punctuation, showing the influence of William Faulkner and James Joyce. Some of his later works are nearly without narrative structure and plot. His 15 novels include Le Tricheur [the trickster] (1945), Le Vent (1957; tr. The Wind, 1959), La Route de Flandres (1960; tr. The Flanders Road, 1962), Histoire (1967, tr. 1968), Leçon de Choses (1975, tr. The World about Us, 1983), L'Acacia (1990, tr. The Acacia, 1991), and the autobiographical Le Jardin des Plantes (1997, tr. 2001). Simon was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1985.

See A. Duncan, ed., Claude Simon: New Directions, Collected Papers (1985); R. Birn and K. Gould, ed., Orion Blinded: Essays on Claude Simon (1981); C. Britton, Claude Simon: Writing the Visible (1987); R. Sarkonak, Understanding Claude Simon (1989); A. Duncan, Claude Simon: Adventures in Words (1994); M. M. Brewer, Claude Simon: Narratives without Narrative (1995); J. H. Duffy, Reading between the Lines: Claude Simon and the Visual Arts (1998).

Simon, Herbert Alexander, 1916-2001, American social scientist and economist, b. Milwaukee, grad. Univ. of Chicago (B.A., 1936, Ph.D., 1943). A professor of computer science and psychology at Carnegie-Mellon Univ. from 1949 until his death, Simon was a pioneer of the development of computer artificial intelligence. In economics, he contended that the theory of "economic man," which argues that the individual invariably chooses a course that will maximize personal benefits, failed to account for the inherent uncertainty of human action. His highly original work on decision-making in such books as Administrative Behavior (1947, 4th ed. 1997), in which he argued that business executives often fail to maximize profits because they make decisions without assessing all information and long-term effects, earned him the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1978. Simon's other books include Scientific Discovery (1987).
Simon, Jules, 1814-96, French statesman. His full name was Jules François Simon Suisse. He taught philosophy at the Sorbonne from 1839 to 1852, during which time he edited the works of several philosophers and wrote his Histoire de l'école d'Alexandrie (2 vol., 1844-45). He was elected (1848) to the national assembly and later entered the council of state. His republican opinions led to his retirement, and his subsequent refusal to swear allegiance to Louis Napoleon lost him his professorship (1852). Until 1863, Simon devoted himself to intellectual pursuits, writing Natural Religion (1856, tr. 1857), La Liberté (1859), and other works. Resuming political activity, he served as deputy (1863-75) and then was made senator for life. A member of the government of national defense after the French defeat at Sedan, he served (1870-73) as minister of education and proposed many educational reforms that helped to liberalize the secondary school system. Because of Simon's moderate republicanism President MacMahon chose him as premier (1876-77) in preference to Léon Gambetta. As premier, Simon was involved in a governmental crisis in May, 1877; his refusal to accede to the president's demand for his resignation established the principle of parliamentary primacy and the responsibility of the premier to the legislature.
Simon, Neil (Marvin Neil Simon), 1927-, American playwright, b. New York City. His plays, nearly all of them popular, if not always critical successes, are comedies treating recognizable aspects of modern middle-class life. Particularly adept at portraying the middle-aged, Simon is a master jokesmith who builds up his characters through funny lines rather than plot, although he does often attempt serious themes. The Gingerbread Lady (1970), for example, deals honestly with alcoholism, and his Pulitzer Prize-winning Lost in Yonkers (1991) treats the anguish of parental rejection. His many other plays include Come Blow Your Horn (1961), Barefoot in the Park (1963), The Odd Couple (1965), Plaza Suite (1968), The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1971), The Good Doctor (1973), God's Favorite (1974), Brighton Beach Memoirs (1983), Biloxi Blues (1984), Broadway Bound (1986), Laughter on the 23d Floor (1993), and 45 Seconds from Broadway (2001). Many of his plays have been adapted into films, and Simon has written numerous screenplays.

See his memoirs, Rewrites (1996) and The Play Goes On (1999); biography by R. Johnson (1985); studies by E. M. McGovern (2d ed. 1979), R. K. Johnson (1983), G. Konas, ed. (1997), H. Bloom, ed. (2002), and S. Koprince (2002).

Simon, Paul, 1941-, American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, b. Newark, N.J. A polished and intelligent folk-rock lyricist and performer, he first gained fame as half of Simon and Garfunkel. Not long after their highly successful album Bridge over Troubled Water (1970), Simon split with Garfunkel and pursued a solo career, releasing the album Paul Simon in 1972. In his solo work, Simon has used a startling variety of national and international styles, mingling them with an idiosyncratic and highly personal content. His folk-inflected and often introspective songs of the 1970s are typified by the album Still Crazy after All These Years (1975). Simon broadened his themes in Graceland (1986), one of the most popular albums of the decade, which featured several African musicians, including the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. His next album, The Rhythm of the Saints (1990), explored Afro-Brazilian music. After the failure of his Latin-themed Broadway musical The Capeman (1997, written with Derek Walcott), Simon toured (1999) with Bob Dylan. Later albums include You're the One (2000) and Surprise (2006).

See biography, P. Humphries, Paul Simon: Still Crazy after All These Years (1989); M. S. Cohen, Simon and Garfunkel (1977); J. Morella and P. Barey, Simon and Garfunkel (1991); S. Luftig, ed. Paul Simon Companion: Four Decades of Commentary (1997); S. Steinberg, dir., American Masters, Paul Simon (video documentary, 1993).

Simon, Théodore: see Binet, Alfred.
Simon, William Edward, 1927-2000, U.S. secretary of the treasury (1974-77), b. Paterson, N.J. He served (1946-48) in the U.S. army in Japan, graduated from Lafayette College (1952), and became a Wall Street bond dealer. Recognized in the financial world as a leading expert on government bonds, Simon served (1973-74) as deputy secretary of the Treasury under President Richard Nixon before succeeding George Shultz as treasury secretary. He also briefly directed (1973-74) the Federal Energy Office during the critical months of the Arab oil embargo. He later headed the U.S. Olympic committee and made millions investing in leveraged buyouts during the 1980s.
Fraser, Simon: see Lovat, Simon Fraser, 11th Baron.
Fraser, Simon, 1776-1862, Canadian explorer and fur trader. Born in Bennington, Vt., he was taken to Canada as a child. He entered the service of the North West Company in 1792, and in 1801 he was made a partner. In 1805 he was chosen to inaugurate the company's operations beyond the Rocky Mts., and after exploring and establishing trading posts on the upper reaches of the Fraser River, he and John Stuart and 20 companions explored (1808) the same river to tidewater. It was one of the most difficult and dangerous exploration trips on record in North America. He was disappointed to discover that the river he had explored was not the Columbia as he had hoped. In 1811, Fraser was placed in charge of the important Red River department of his company, where he came into conflict with the earl of Selkirk over the Red River Settlement. Fraser's journals of the expedition were edited by W. K. Lamb (1960).
Cameron, Simon, 1799-1889, American politician and financier, b. Lancaster co., Pa. From humble beginnings he rose to be a newspaper publisher and with considerable success branched out into canal and road construction, railroad promotion, banking, and iron and steel manufacturing. His private wealth brought him influence in the Democratic party; he played a major role in winning the vice presidential nomination for Martin Van Buren in 1832 and in James Buchanan's election to the Senate the following year. Cameron was elected (1845) to Buchanan's vacated seat in the U.S. Senate but, defeated for reelection, served only until 1849. Having joined the new Republican party in 1856, he was returned (1857) to the Senate when three Democratic legislators also voted for him. In the Senate, Cameron bitterly attacked the pro-Southern policies of his former friend President Buchanan. At the Republican national convention in Chicago in 1860 he was a candidate for the presidential nomination but after the first ballot supported Abraham Lincoln, first exacting from Lincoln's managers, however, the promise of a cabinet post. Lincoln reluctantly recognized the bargain, made without his knowledge, and Cameron resigned from the Senate to serve (Mar., 1861-Jan., 1862) as Secretary of War. The President's worst fears were realized when notorious corruption in army contracts and appointments aroused the nation. Lincoln eased him out gracefully by appointing him minister to Russia, but Cameron resigned that post in Nov., 1862. The House of Representatives passed (Apr., 1862) a resolution of censure against him, but Cameron bounded back in 1867, when, in defeating Andrew H. Curtin for the Senate, he became absolute Republican boss of Pennsylvania. He retired from the Senate and from active participation in politics in 1877 but only after making sure that his son, James Donald Cameron, succeeded him in the Senate. The machine he created, later run by his son, Matthew S. Quay, Boies Penrose, William S. Vare, and Joseph R. Grundy successively, so dominated Pennsylvania that it was not until Franklin Delano Roosevelt's victory in 1936 that the Democrats carried the state in a national election.

See biography by E. S. Bradley (1966); L. F. Crippen, Simon Cameron: Ante-Bellum Years (1942, repr. 1972).

Vestdijk, Simon, 1898-1971, Dutch writer. His nearly 100 books include 38 novels, over 20 volumes of poetry, and works on astrology, religion, and music. One of his best-known works, The Garden Where the Brass Band Played (1950, tr. 1965) is an eight-volume treatment of the life of Anton Wachter. Vestdijk was known for his psychoanalytical approach and his depiction of empty provincial lifestyles and tragic love affairs.
Vouet, Simon, 1590-1649, French portrait and decorative painter. He first established himself as a successful painter in Rome. Recalled to France in 1627 as court painter to Louis XIII, he decorated several of the royal palaces. Vouet was the first to introduce the Italian baroque style into France. After his return to Paris, he began to work in a more classical and decorative vein. He created new devices in illusionism and developed a splendid manner that formed the foundation of French 17th-century painting. Le Brun, Mignard, and Le Sueur were among the pupils who perpetuated his style. Several of his paintings are in the Louvre.
Bar Cochba, Simon: see Bar Kokba, Simon.
Bar Kokba, Simon, or Simon Bar Cochba [Heb.,=son of the star], d. A.D. 135, Hebrew hero and leader of a major revolt against Rome under Hadrian (132-135). He may have claimed to be a Messiah; the Talmud relates that Akiba ben Joseph credited him with this title. His personality and the facts of his life are surrounded by legend. He is sometimes called Simon the Prince of Israel. At first he successfully defeated the Roman armies, but the tide turned against him with the victories of the Roman general Julius Severus, and he was killed at Bether. Israeli archaeologists have found a number of letters in his handwriting.
Wiesenthal, Simon, 1908-2005, Austrian-Jewish Nazi hunter, b. Butschatsch, Austria-Hungary (now Buchach, Ukraine). He received (1932) an architectural engineering degree in Prague and practiced in Lvov, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine). After the Germans invaded (1941) he was sent to a forced labor camp and, recaptured after an escape, to several concentration camps. By the time he was liberated by U.S. troops in 1945, 89 of his relatives had been slaughtered. After recovering his health, Wiesenthal began collecting evidence of Nazi atrocities for the U.S. army. Devoting his life to identifying Nazis and bringing them to justice, he established and headed (1947-54) a center for this purpose in Linz, Austria, and in 1961 opened the Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna. He and his staff were responsible for locating some 1,100 war criminals, many of whom were tried and convicted. His books include KZ Mathausen (1947), The Murderers among Us (1967), and Max and Helen (1982).
Bisschop, Simon: see Episcopius, Simon.
Bradstreet, Simon, 1603-97, colonial governor of Massachusetts, b. Lincolnshire, England. He emigrated to New England in 1630 and was assistant in the Massachusetts Bay Company for 49 years (1630-79) and for part of that time served as secretary (1630-36). In 1634, Bradstreet was sent with four others to the Plymouth, New Haven, and Connecticut colonies to negotiate concerning the formation of the New England Confederation, and on its organization became one of two Massachusetts representatives, a post he retained for 33 years. After the Restoration, John Norton and he went to England and succeeded in persuading Charles II to confirm the colony's charter. His first period as governor (1679-86) was followed by the unsuccessful royal administration of Sir Edmund Andros. He served as governor again, from 1689 to 1692. Anne Bradstreet was his wife.
Stevin, Simon, 1548-1620, Dutch engineer and mathematician. His experiments in hydrostatics showed that the pressure exerted by a liquid is dependent only on its vertical height and not on the shape of the liquid's container, and demonstrated the principle of the hydraulic press. He probably anticipated Galileo's experiments with falling bodies. Stevin is also credited with the introduction of decimals into common usage.
Dubnow, Simon, 1860-1941, Jewish historian and ideologist, b. Belorussia. Self-educated, he settled after extensive travels in St. Petersburg, where he taught Jewish history. He was one of the founders and directors of the Jewish Historico-Ethnographical Society there (1909-18) and was asked to prepare several publications by the Bolshevik government, none of which was ever published. In 1922 he moved to Berlin. When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Dubnow went to Riga, Latvia, where he remained at work until killed by the Nazis in Dec., 1941. Among Dubnow's numerous works are History of the Jews in Russia and Poland (3 vol., 1916-20) and History of the Jews (10 vol., 1925-29; tr. 5 vol., 1967-73), in which he maintained that Jewish survival had resulted from the communal and spiritual independence of Jews in the Diaspora.

See biographies by A. Steinberg, ed. (1963), and R. M. Seltzer (1970).

Rodilla or Rodia, Simon: see Watts Towers.
Newcomb, Simon, 1835-1909, American astronomer, b. Nova Scotia, grad. Lawrence Scientific School, Harvard, 1858. Living in the United States from 1853, he was appointed (1857) a computer on the American Nautical Almanac and later (1877-97) was its director. He was professor of mathematics in the U.S. navy from 1861 until his retirement in 1897, professor of mathematics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins from 1884 to 1894, and for several years editor of the American Journal of Mathematics. Newcomb participated in several eclipse expeditions and in 1882 went to the Cape of Good Hope to observe the transit of Venus. The record of many of his researches was published in the Astronomical Papers of the American Ephemeris, a series that he established in 1879. His investigations and computations of the orbits of six planets resulted in his tables of the planetary system, which were almost universally adopted by the observatories of the world. Newcomb urged the use of a common system of constants and fundamental stars by astronomers of all nations. A subject to which he devoted many years of study was the theory of the moon's motion. From the formulas he established it was possible to construct accurate lunar tables. His writings include a valuable early paper, On the Secular Variations and Mutual Relations of the Orbits of the Asteroids (1860) and On the Motion of Hyperion (1891).

See his Reminiscences of an Astronomer (1903); study by L. M. Dunphy (1956).

Episcopius, Simon, 1583-1643, Dutch Protestant theologian, whose original name was Biscop, Bischop, or Bisschop. Episcopius accepted the teachings of Jacobus Arminius and was a leader of the Arminians, or Remonstrants, who opposed the Calvinist conception of predestination. Episcopius represented the Remonstrants at conclaves at The Hague (1611), at Delft (1613), and at the Synod of Dort (1618), where he presented a detailed defense of his position. However, the Calvinist views prevailed, Remonstrant church services were banned, and Episcopius and some other leaders were banished. In exile in the Spanish Netherlands he wrote an Arminian creed (1622). In 1625, upon the death of Prince Maurice of Nassau, the ban was removed, and Episcopius returned (1626) to the Netherlands. Episcopius, in the Institutiones theologicae (1650), established the doctrine of the Remonstrants upon a consistent theological basis. His avowed aim was to present Christianity in a practical aspect and to liberate theology from the excessively rigid limitations of theory and ecclesiasticism.
Petlyura, Simon, 1879-1926, Ukrainian nationalist politician. In Jan., 1919, he became leader of the independent Ukrainian republic that emerged after the collapse of the Russian empire and the defeat of Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War I. His power was challenged from the north by the Red Army, from the south by the anti-Soviet Russian forces of General Denikin. In 1920, Petlyura allied himself with Poland under Joseph Piłsudski, but the 1921 peace of Riga between Poland and Soviet Russia recognized Soviet control over Ukraine. Exiled to Paris, Petlyura was later assassinated in revenge for the pogroms that occurred during his rule.
Kuznets, Simon, 1901-85, American economist, b. Kharkiv, Russia (now in Ukraine), grad. Columbia (B.S., 1923; M.A., 1924; Ph.D., 1926). He emigrated to the United States in 1922. After serving as a fellow on the Social Science Research Council (1925-27), he worked for the National Bureau of Economic Research (1927-63), where he became involved in the study of business cycles. Kuznets taught at the Univ. of Pennsylvania (1930-54) and Johns Hopkins (1954-60); he joined the faculty of Harvard in 1960. Generally credited with having developed the Gross National Product as a measure of economic output, Kuznets was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1971. His National Income and Its Composition, 1919 to 1938 (1941) is considered his major work. A prolific writer, Kuznets has also written National Income and Capital Formation (1938), National Product Since 1869 (1946), Economic Growth of Nations (1971), and numerous other books and scholarly articles.
Kenton, Simon, 1755-1836, American frontiersman, b. probably Fauquier co., Va. In 1771, believing he had killed a man, he fled westward, assuming the name Simon Butler. He settled in Boonesboro, Ky., in 1775 and defended the settlement against frequent Native American attacks; in one of these encounters he saved Daniel Boone's life. During the American Revolution he accompanied (1778) George Rogers Clark on his expedition to Kaskaskia and Vincennes and helped Boone in the raid on Chillicothe. He was later captured by the Native Americans, who brought him to the British in Detroit, but he escaped (1779) and again joined Clark as a scout. Learning that the man he thought he had killed was alive, he resumed his original name, and eventually settled (1799) in Ohio. Kenton was elected a brigadier general of militia in 1804 and served in the War of 1812 at the battle of the Thames.

See biography by E. Kenton (1930, repr. 1971); P. Jahns, The Violent Years: Simon Kenton and the Ohio-Kentucky Frontier (1962).

Julian L. Simon and Paul Ehrlich entered in a famous wager in 1980, betting on a mutually agreed upon measure of resource scarcity over the decade leading up to 1990.

The background

Ehrlich was the author of a popular book, The Population Bomb, which argued that mankind was facing a demographic catastrophe with the rate of population growth quickly outstripping growth in the supply of food and resources. Simon, a libertarian, was highly skeptical of such claims.

The wager

Simon had Ehrlich choose five of several commodity metals. Ehrlich chose 5 metals: copper, chromium, nickel, tin, and tungsten. Simon bet that their prices would go down. Ehrlich bet they would go up.

The face-off occurred in the pages of Social Science Quarterly, where Simon challenged Ehrlich to put his money where his mouth was. In response to Ehrlich's published claim that "If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000" — a proposition Simon regarded as too silly to bother with — Simon countered with "a public offer to stake US$10,000 ... on my belief that the cost of non-government-controlled raw materials (including grain and oil) will not rise in the long run."

You could name your own terms: select any raw material you wanted — copper, tin, whatever — and select any date in the future, "any date more than a year away," and Simon would bet that the commodity's price on that date would be lower than what it was at the time of the wager...

Ehrlich and his colleagues picked five metals that they thought would undergo big price rises: chromium, copper, nickel, tin, and tungsten. Then, on paper, they bought $200 worth of each, for a total bet of $1,000, using the prices on September 29, 1980, as an index. They designated September 29, 1990, 10 years hence, as the payoff date. If the inflation-adjusted prices of the various metals rose in the interim, Simon would pay Ehrlich the combined difference; if the prices fell, Ehrlich et al. would pay Simon...

Between 1980 and 1990, the world's population grew by more than 800 million, the largest increase in one decade in all of history. But by September 1990, without a single exception, the price of each of Ehrlich's selected metals had fallen, and in some cases had dropped through the floor. Chrome, which had sold for $3.90 a pound in 1980, was down to $3.70 in 1990. Tin, which was $8.72 a pound in 1980, was down to $3.88 a decade later.

As a result, in October 1990, Paul Ehrlich mailed Julian Simon a check for $576.07 to settle the wager in Simon's favor.

Analysis of why Ehrlich lost

According to Paul Ehrlich's website:
In 1980, Julian Simon repeatedly challenged environmental scientists to bet against him on trends in prices of commodities, asserting that humanity would never run out of anything... Paul and the other scientists knew that the five metals in the proposed wager were not critical indicators and said so at the time... They emphasized that the depletion of so-called renewable resources — environmental resources such as soils, forests, species diversity, and groundwater — is much more indicative of the deteriorating state of society's life-support systems... Nonetheless, after consulting with many colleagues, Paul and Berkeley physicists John Harte and John Holdren accepted Simon's challenge in late 1980...

It's not clear if Ehrlich consulted with economists. If he had, the flaw in using commodity prices as the best way to understand biophysical limits might have become obvious. Many economists understand the principle of substitution and the dynamic influence of technology with respect to commodity prices. For example, in the absence of any new technologies, copper prices would indeed be expected to increase as growing economies demanded more copper to meet the needs of expanding communications networks and plumbing infrastructure. Technological changes mitigated much of this expected demand as fiber optics replaced copper wire networks and various plastics replaced the once ubiquitous copper pipes throughout the construction industry.

Julian Simon won because the price of three of the five metals went down in absolute terms and all five of the metals fell in price in inflation-adjusted terms, with both tin and tungsten falling by more than half. So, per the terms of the wager, Ehrlich paid Simon the difference in price between the same quantity of metals in 1980 and 1990 (which was $576.07). The prices of all five metals increased between 1950 and 1975, but Ehrlich believes three of the five went down during the 1980s because of the price of oil doubling in 1979, and because of a worldwide recession in the early 1980s.

Yet, it is significant that, according to an article in Wired:

All of [Ehrlich's] grim predictions had been decisively overturned by events. Ehrlich was wrong about higher natural resource prices, about "famines of unbelievable proportions" occurring by 1975, about "hundreds of millions of people starving to death" in the 1970s and '80s, about the world "entering a genuine age of scarcity." In 1990, for his having promoted "greater public understanding of environmental problems," Ehrlich received a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award."

[Simon] always found it somewhat peculiar that neither the Science piece nor his public wager with Ehrlich nor anything else that he did, said, or wrote seemed to make much of a dent on the world at large. For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; they were immune to contrary evidence just as if they'd been medically vaccinated against the force of fact. Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days "experts" spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.

Exponential population growth cannot continue indefinitely for any species, whether it exists as microbes in a petri dish, wild salmon at sea, caribou in the taiga, or a global human society. However, world population is no longer growing exponentially; it has been decelerating for the last half century or so, and UN projections show that it may actually decline after 2040.

Simon offered to raise the wager to $20,000 and to use any resources at any time that Ehrlich preferred. Ehrlich countered with a challenge to bet that temperatures would increase in the future. The two were unable to reach an agreement on the terms of a second wager.

Inflation-adjusted price movements of the commodities in the wager between Simon and Ehrlich may be seen in the larger 1950–2002 context in the following chart . Prices were generally rising from 1960 up until 1978, and generally falling thereafter.


The price of raw and other natural commodities such as oil, gold, and uranium have risen substantially in recent years, due to increased demand from China, India, and other industrializing countries. However, this price increase is not necessarily contrary to Simon's cornucopian theory.

The proposed second wager

Understanding that Simon wanted to bet again, Ehrlich and climatologist Stephen Schneider counter-offered, challenging Simon to bet on 15 current trends, betting $1000 that each will get worse (as in the previous wager) over a ten year future period.

The trends they bet would continue to worsen were:

  • The three years 2002–2004 will on average be warmer than 1992-1994.
  • There will be more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in 2004 than in 1994.
  • There will be more nitrous oxide in the atmosphere in 2004 than 1994.
  • The concentration of ozone in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere) will be greater than in 1994.
  • Emissions of the air pollutant sulfur dioxide in Asia will be significantly greater in 2004 than in 1994.
  • There will be less fertile cropland per person in 2004 than in 1994.
  • There will be less agricultural soil per person in 2004 than 1994.
  • There will be on average less rice and wheat grown per person in 2002–2004 than in 1992-1994.
  • In developing nations there will be less firewood available per person in 2004 than in 1994.
  • The remaining area of virgin tropical moist forests will be significantly smaller in 2004 than in 1994.
  • The oceanic fisheries harvest per person will continue its downward trend and thus in 2004 will be smaller than in 1994.
  • There will be fewer plant and animal species still extant in 2004 than in 1994.
  • More people will die of AIDS in 2004 than in 1994.
  • Between 1994 and 2004, sperm cell counts of human males will continue to decline and reproductive disorders will continue to increase.
  • The gap in wealth between the richest 10% of humanity and the poorest 10% will be greater in 2004 than in 1994.

Simon declined Ehrlich and Schneider's offer to bet, and used the following analogy to explain why he did so:

Simon's thesis is that humanity's life-style will continue to improve, and several of the points of Ehrlich's second bet may increase for wholly benign reasons. For instance, the prediction of less agricultural soil per capita is a trend that Simon observed in The Ultimate Resource which Simon attributed to long-term rises in agricultural productivity.

Other wagers

In 1996, Simon bet $1000 with David South that the inflation-adjusted price of timber would decrease in the following 5 years. Simon paid out early on the bet in 1997 (before his death in 1998) based on his expectation that prices would remain above 1996 levels (which they did).

In recent years, there have been many bets and bet challenges related to global warming. For instance, J. Scott Armstrong challenged Al Gore to a climate-related bet in 2007, focused on year-to-year variation in temperatures , but not betting on longer term changes in global average temperatures.


See also

External links

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