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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Big Dog, Me too and Me too too

Big Dog, Me too and Me too too
In which I give Clive Crook some unsolicited advice

The headline is a reference to flame warriors.  Often it seems that DeLong plays me too to Paul Krugman's big dog.  This is ironic given their relative heights.  Too often I feel that I play me too too to Brad's me too.  But I just can't resist.

First a heads up.  I think you really don't want to get into a bitter debate (or flame war) with Brad DeLong.  For a recent example, consider the case of Niall Ferguson.  You must understand that he has read a large fraction of your writings, vaguely remembers what you said and can google. Also he is very very smart, at least compared to other people I know.  The headline of his latest post is an olive branch.  I suggest you grab it.  

Second, I besearch you in the bowels of christ, think that you might be right.  It isn't necessarily true that people who disagree with you about the stimulus are about as reasonable in general as the people who agree with you.  The conviction that those who disagree are fools or knaves is offensive, irritating and unconstructive (yes I am criticizing the Krugman post you originally criticized, but I have to add that he is vastly more polite than I am and has rather more reason to be arrogant).  But the assumption that each side is "no more" unreasonable than the otehr is just that, an assumption.  It is alleged that you make this assumption.  Really, I ask you to introspect.  Do you assume that something which might be true must be false ? If so, would you consider doing without that assumption.

On Krugman and your original (plainly false) claim.

Do you agree that "the forefront" typically doesn't arrive over a year late.  You claimed "Krugman and his admirers were at the forefront in casting discussion of the stimulus in left vs. right terms. " In support of this claim, you link to a column published on December 2010.  The stimulus debate had already become a bit ideological by then.

An honorable person would either retract the "forefront" claim or present some relevant evidence.  I think it is clear that you now know your claim was false.  I can't imagine that you looked for Krugman in the forefront, found a column from 2010 and were satisfied. Your claim was false and potentially damaging when made. You have repeated it knowing it is false. 

Also I think you are sloppy with numbers.  In the original post which triggered the controversy you wrote "But if Krugman got out of his bubble a bit more, he’d find that the other half of the country contains no more than its fair share of knaves, fools and lunatics." Exactly ? What is it's fair share ? I am interested in a number or a fraction.  At what confidence level can you reject the null that the non-Krugman half has 1.1 times its fair share ?  

To the profoundly innumerate, there is no difference between "there are knaves fools and lunatics on both sides" and "there is the same proportion of knaves fools and lunatics on both sides.  I do not think you are profoundly innumerate.  However, I do think that centrist ideology matters more to you than responsible use of "no more" and "fair share" so that, on the topic you chose to debate Krugman, you might as well be incapable of handling arithmetic.

I see you still think it is self evident that there are prominent reasonable Republicans.  You have yet to name any.  DeLong is a tenured academic who is employing RAs for the not clearly NSF approved role of reading your columns.  He claims they have read you praising only three Republicans 
Paul Ryan, Alan Simpson and Robert Zoellick.  

Do you still think that Paul Ryan is a data driven reality based reasonably honest possible interlocutor for say Krugman or, at a rather different level of power and importance, Obama ?

Do you appreciate the way that Sen Simpson was outraged when Ryan Grim brought up life expectancy at 65 after he discussed the change in life expectancy at birth.

"HuffPost suggested to Simpson during a telephone interview that his claim about life expectancy was misleading ...  According to the Social Security Administration's actuaries, women who lived to 65 in 1940 had a life expectancy of 79.7 years and men were expected to live 77.7 years.
"If that is the case -- and I don’t think it is -- then that means they put in peanuts," said Simpson.
Simpson speculated that the data presented to him by HuffPost had been furnished by "the Catfood Commission people""

Are you still prepared to argue that someone who responds to historical data that way is "thoughtful" ? What would it take to convince you that Sen Simpson is not "thoughtful".  

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