Wednesday, May 09, 2012

As noted below I disagree with TWO Kevin Drum posts today. The one where my disagreement is contaminated with an actual trace of knowing relevant facts is "The War between Data and Storytelling" on Krugman vs Brooks

Here Drum says he agrees two thirds with Krugman and one third with Brooks. I object for a few reasons.

1) 2/3 is not being used as a number. Drum would not be able to explain why 2/3 not 0.6 or 3/4 as in 75% of statistics are made up on the spot. The topic is analysing data vs telling stories. I agree with Drum that both are useful, but I don't approve of telling stories with made up numbers which are not based on measurements or part of a formal mathematical system.

2) 2/3 is much too low. I see no difference between Drum and Krugman othus issue. I would be unable to decide which has more respect for data vs stories. I would feel roughly the same way about Krugmann sayin he agrees 2/3 with Drum and 1/3 with Brooks.

3) Brooks makes claims of fact. His stories are not hypothtical. The claims are not always based on examination of evidence (neither quantitative evidence or qualitative evidence). He has made false claims of fact (and not corrected the errors). One way to summarise evidence is to tell a non fictional staory (see " journalism" and " historiography). Another is to write fiction which is presented as fiction but which the writer believes illustrates reality.
(also totally unreal fiction can be great too see "Borges" by whom implausibility too can and is used to create joy and onder. Pundit and politician story telling is often neither. No names (not thinking of Brooks honest) it can be lying,but keeping the lies so vague that it can't be proven they are lies.

Krugman tells good stories. The few which are fictional are labled as such ( see "clan of the cave bull"). Presenting quantitative data and making claims which are not contradicted by the quantitative data are very different. The first is one approach but not the only one. The second is minimal honesty and due diligence and rare among opinion writers other than Drum, Krugman and such like ( list much too long for typing and too short for having much hope for humanity.

4. Oops didn't mean to run on. On the underlying issue cyclical vs structural problems Drum agrees much more than 2/3 with Krugman. He partly disagrees with the fictional straw Krugman set up by Brooks. In Drum's post "Krugman" thinks all of our problems are the current recession. In total contrast, Paul Krugman has been warning about say upward trendong inequality for about 2 decades. On importance of cyclical vs structural, I'd say Drum is roughly 100% on Krugman's side. That is, if I were asked who was more concerned about cycle vs structural I would not have a quick or easy answer. Sure Krugman is more a macroeconomist than Drum, and Krugman has a tiny trace of willingness to write more on topics where he is recignised to be an outstanding expert, but I don't have a sense of any disagreement at all.

Note weasel "roughly" to make a number not a number. Totally ignoring my fist complaint about pretend numbers, I type that Drum agrees with Krugman" somewhere between 90% and 110%. Huh ? 110% because Drum might be closer to Drum's fictional "Krugman" than the flesh and blood Krugman is. (krugman" is an equivocation of Krugman and "Krugman" the " comes after the n not before the K because I thought of this abuse of punctuation after typing and it is easier to iClick down at the ends of words).
Aside from looking at data vs telling

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