May 12, 2009

"And then came the financial crash last September and the ensuing depression."

"These unanticipated and shocking events have exposed significant analytical weaknesses in core beliefs of conservative economists concerning the business cycle and the macroeconomy generally. Friedmanite monetarism and the efficient-market theory of finance have taken some sharp hits, and there is renewed respect for the macroeconomic thought of John Maynard Kenyes, a conservatives' bête noire."

Richard Posner on the dismal state of the conservative movement.

83 comments:

MadisonMan said...

The line in that article that struck me was that Conservative Intellectuals have no party -- Republicans are all about Sarah Palin and Joe The Plumber, which statement seems ironic since those two to me seem outside the power structure of the Republican Party.

Hoosier Daddy said...

And this too shall pass. As with all movements, things change. Right now the conservative mantra of individual responsibility and self-reliance isn't going to fly with the masses when you have a government that is going to give you everything you want and more. But sooner or later we will have to pay the piper and all those glassy eyed Obamatrons will perhaps rethink such state generosity when it's reflected in the deductions column of their paychecks.

somefeller said...

Every victorious political movement sooner or later runs out of steam, and I suspect the current Democratic ascendance is no exception. It's only a question of when, rather than if.

However, it's also true that such victorious movements can alter society permanently, so even the pendulum swing in the other direction doesn't change certain fundamental changes wrought by the prior winners, and the reason the pendulum swings back is in part because big parts of the winning coalition got what they wanted and either left the field or found it safe to go to the other side because of other issues. It's this factor that conservatives, particularly social conservatives, need to worry about. There will be a Republican President again (probably in 2016 or 2020 - sorry, I doubt Obama loses in 2012), but the country he or she leads will be a very different one than the one that existed in 2008, and there will be no going back to the status quo ante on a lot of things. Heh.

Jen said...

Conservative intellectuals DON'T have a party. A friend of mine classifies himself as a "financial Republican." But when you vote Republican, you are also voting for the party that believes (to quote Tina Fea) that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church. Can a Republican politician stand up and say the things that should be said about the economy AND acknowledge that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old please?

Sofa King said...

Can a Republican politician stand up and say the things that should be said about the economy AND acknowledge that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old please?

Of course. They won't win any elections, though.

garage mahal said...

If you fart in an empty tent and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

Hoosier Daddy said...

There will be a Republican President again (probably in 2016 or 2020 - sorry, I doubt Obama loses in 2012), but the country he or she leads will be a very different one than the one that existed in 2008, and there will be no going back to the status quo ante on a lot of things. Heh..

Oh I don't know about that. The thought that welfare reform would ever be a reality was pretty far fetched until the GOP shoved it through in the 90's. Like I said, it's grand when you're on the receiving end of government largess but the day will come when you have to start paying for the state funded pinata party and I suspect a whole lot won't like what that net figure looks like. That's when the winds shift.

Unless of course we go bankrupt first when China doesn't show up at the auction house.

Sofa King said...

No it doesn't. But it still stinks.

Hoosier Daddy said...

But when you vote Republican, you are also voting for the party that believes (to quote Tina Fea) that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church. .

Well if you're accepting Tina Fea as some political authority I suppose you're as stupid as she is. I guess the equivalent is saying that voting Democrat is for a party that cherishes saving polar bears and spotted owls and is all for killing human babies in the name of choice.

Jen said...

Oh, it was FUNNY. Get over it. I'm not quoting Tina Fea as an authority.

Do you honestly think that if a Republican politician stood up and said, "Listen. We've got some work to do here economically. And btw, lets acknowledge all the work that geologists, geophysicists, and astronomers have been doing in lieu of religious mythology."

He/She would get a single vote? Nope. He wouldn't be towing the party line.

Salamandyr said...

Do you honestly think that if a Republican politician stood up and said, "Listen. We've got some work to do here economically. And btw, lets acknowledge all the work that geologists, geophysicists, and astronomers have been doing in lieu of religious mythology."

Bull and Shit. Aside from Huckabee, there was not a single Republican in the last election (or the one before that for that matter) that espoused creationism. The most you got, the very most, was a sort of pale, insipid endorsement of intelligent design in the name of "free inquiry". The netroots tried to pain Palin as some kind of Usherite, but there wasn't actually anything in her record to indicate she was.

And for the record, every Democratic candidate in memory has espoused a deep belief in God as the creator as well. So they believe as much in intelligent design as Bush, Huckabee, and Palin. Or they're liars.

And besides, why do I want politicians lecturing me about things they have no training in, like most branches of science? Most people, and I imagine you included, believe in evolution the way creationists believe in the 7 day creation; as received wisdom from those you consider "authority".

chickenlittle said...

If you fart in an empty tent and nobody hears it, does it make a sound?

You might have gotten tagged for originality if you'd had gone olfactory instead.

Salamandyr said...

I'm very sorry I didn't use the word "wan" in place of pale in the last post. Wan is a good word that doesn't get used enough, and do you notice pretty much no one uses it in speech?

1jpb said...

"Republicans are all about Sarah Palin and Joe The Plumber"

Hello! How could the newest start be excluded. Don't forget Carrie Prejean.

And to think that some foolish people claim that the GOP is dominated by folks whose time has passed (Newt, Dick, John). Carrie is the future.

hdhouse said...

Sofa King said...
Can a Republican politician stand up and say ..Of course. They won't win any elections, though."

They are winning very few of them now so what's the difference if the acknowledge science, real world economics, or basic truth...all currently foreign languages.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Do you honestly think that if a Republican politician stood up and said, "Listen. We've got some work to do here economically. And btw, lets acknowledge all the work that geologists, geophysicists, and astronomers have been doing in lieu of religious mythology."

He/She would get a single vote? Nope. He wouldn't be towing the party line.
.

Jen that is nonsense and you know it or are simply so deluded into thinking that all conservatives or Republicans are knuckledragging morons because they believe in God.

Obama says he believes in God so what does that make him? Or is there a different belief set for Democrats who believe in God versus Republicans?

Paul Zrimsek said...

Whether or not conservative intellectuals have a party is entirely up to them. How fastidious do they want to be when it comes to rubbing shoulders with the proles?

Tina Fey es bastante tonta, quizás, pero no es fea.

Jen said...

Salamandyr:

When there is testability, there is no need for "belief."

Sofa King said...

I'm very sorry I didn't use the word "wan" in place of pale in the last post. Wan is a good word that doesn't get used enough, and do you notice pretty much no one uses it in speech?

Rubbish! I use it all the time, e.g.: "Your internet isn't working because the WAN link is down."

Der Hahn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Der Hahn said...

the ensuing depression.
Thanks for putting that in the post heading. I found a more enjoyable to way to waste time.

TitusHasMoved said...

We are still winning in the south in states like Alabama and Mississipi.

Yes, they are least educated, fattest and poorests states but they are where the real Americans live.

And he have some great new leaders. Newt, Mccain, and a bunch of amazing southern governors.

Intellect is for pussies.

I say Jeff Sessions from Alabama or Hailey Barbour from Mississippi in 2012. Miss California VP.

TitusHasMoved said...

Brownback, Tancredo and I think Ron Paul raised their hand about no evoluation either.

So does the third in charge of the House, the amazing Mike Pence.

Science is for pussies. Evolution is crap science made up by liberal scientists.

Creationism now Creationism forever!

OK I just found my balance and am present.

Namaste.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well I'll go further and say the conservative movement is dismal because those elected to represent that movement largely betrayed it by spending like Democrats. Kind of hard to get the movement behind you when you're essentially indistinguishable from the other side.

Now if thats not bad enough we now have a President and Congress who are going to run a $1.5 trillion defict plus cut taxes plus spend more. Jesus H Christ on a pogo stick does anyone at all even give pause to this? On the contrary, 67% polled thinks this is just wunderbar. Somehow spending ourselves into oblivian got us into the mess we're in so we're going to cure it by tripling the amount we spent.

You just have to wonder what is in the drinking water.

Richard Dolan said...

Posner thinks of himself, first and foremost, as a pragmatist. OK. Let's run with that.

The 2008 meltdown began in the banking industry -- all those crappy mortgages and other consumer loans that were written, securitized, repackaged, rated and sold by the trillions. Banking, as it happens, is the most highly regulated sector of the financial markets. So where were the regulators (where were the adults)? Hint: they weren't part of the solution. Bank inspectors and regulators have enormous power, both formal and informal, over banking operations. That fact makes bankers (those originating mortgages and other consumer loans, not the IB-types) exquisitely sensitive to the demands of their overseers. That, in large measure, is how things got so wildly off track -- pressure coming from gov't to expand lending and loosen underwriting standards so that potential borrowers previously unable to get loans now could. The Boston Fed issued an influential report in '93 that got a lot of attenion, and was later followed by the Community Redevelopment Act, Congressional pressure about 'red lining,' etc., etc. And Fannie and Freddie gave it all a bit of cover.
Along the way, the Fed decided that the years 2002-2006 were a fine time to keep interest rates artificially low and the money supply pumped up.

The bankers responded with enthusiasm, to say the least. In 2004-2006, when the enormous fees generated by the making, rating, securitizing and selling of gobs of mortgages and consumer loans had everyone in a feeding frenzy. why not? It was a wonderful party, until the bubble burst. The rest was mostly the miracle of leverage working in reverse, as falling asset values and suddenly unmarketable securitized mortgages wiped out equity on pretty much every financial institution's balance sheet.

There is plenty of blame to go around in all of that. But if the object is to figure out whether "core beliefs" of the conservative vs. liberal sort are more likely to be shaken when the full story is told, I'm not so sure that Posner will be proven right. The gov't created lots of incentives that pumped up the housing bubble in many ways over many years (it was bipartisan madness, which doesn't make it any less crazy). The bank regulators (the Fed, the OCC, state regulators of state-chartered banks) were urging it all on, and for all intents and purposes were part of the herd they were supposedly overseeing. The markets responded.

How is that an indictment of the "core beliefs of conservative economists concerning the business cycle and the macroeconomy generally"? How is it an endorsement for more regulation and gov't intervention as the solution? How is it that the most highly regulated sector of the financial markets (the banks - Citi, B of A, etc.) have needed zillions in bailouts, but the least regulated (hedge funds) have neither required nor received any? Beats me, but Posner is a smart guy.

downtownlad said...

Let's not forget that none of the Republicans believe in global warming.

Never mind the debate over whether global warming is man-made or not. They deny that the earth has even gotten warmer. They think it's all just a myth made up by liberal journalists. And their scientific evidence is that it snowed in January.

But then of course there are facts . . .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_record_of_the_past_1000_years

Hoosier Daddy said...

Never mind the debate over whether global warming is man-made or not. .

Actually that is the debate DTL. You're making generalities...oh wait...sorry forgot who I was talking to.

The planet has gotten warmer and colder. No one denies that, well no sane person does. Indiana used to be covered by a glacier around 700,000 years ago so evidently it got a heckuva lot warmer at some point in time long before the combustion engine came along.

Chip Ahoy said...

I never fail to be surprised when I see balding old men wearing suits and ties construct edifices of argument on false premises.

Sir, check your premises.

Let's see in your 20's in the 60's, hum dee hum dee hum, plus 50, hum dee hum, in your 70's now. tisk tisk

the belief (which turned out to be mistaken) that the Soviet Union was winning the Cold War.Oh how easily that's dismissed in retrospect. I notice the writer didn't mention Sputnik. As if at that point there was no technological gap and as if they posed no threat at all. In large part, it was our country's response to USSR that made us what we are.

and it is notable that the policies of the new conservatism are powered largely by emotion and religion and have for the most part weak intellectual groundingsThis is simply not so. In fact, I would say the exact reverse is true. The policies of the conservatism that I hear and know about, and it's not new, are powered by the pocketbook, but I would not have phrased it that way, and it's not limited to Republicans either. Again, this rigid dualistic thinking, conservatives = Republicans, liberals = Democrats is too general and flawed. The writer's thought passages have become too rigid and too narrow.

That the policies are weak in conception, have largely failed in execution, and are political flops is therefore unsurprisingWrong again. The policies are not weak in conception and they have not failed in execution. That's complete nonsense.

The writer says the blows are fourfold
1) failure military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives
2) inanity of substituting will for intellect
3) denial of global warming
4) religious criteria in selecting public officials
5) neglect of management and expertise in government
6) preoccupation with abortion
7) fiscal incontinence in the form of massive budget deficits -- Medicare drug plan, excessive foreign borrowing, asset-price inflation.

Ok, this is pissing me off. Why am I even paying attention to a hair-brained, if he would have hair, writer on politics and economics who can not even count to four? This is so full of wrong and faulted premise it would take longer to deconstruct than its worth. Failure of military force to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives. ORLY? Spoken like a true intellectual! Substituting will for intellect? All I can say is the writer must have pulled this one out Jason's ass. Denial of global warming. Ha ha ha ha ha, that, sip, again, sip. Conservatives do not deny global warming. They do, however, question anthropogenic global warming. They question theories that obviously exaggerate man's influence and vastly underestimate the effects of , oh, what would it be, something really big and hot, um, something that influences pretty much everything in the entire solar system, it would have to be gargantuan, something much larger than man himself, something like ... the sun! Conservatives, believe it or not, actually remember reading in third-grade science that surprisingly there used to be dinosaurs and proto-palms on Antarctica. And they recall from those same early science classes that trees and plants do thrive on carbon dioxide, require it in fact, and so do not consider carbon, or carbon dioxide a poison whose exudation must be taxed. But you keep saying this discussion is closed when it is not closed, and that those who do not believe in global warming are atavisms of an earlier flat-earth epoch, while simultaneously maintaining conservatives keep electing public officials on the basis of religion! Keep up the gratuitous attack on voters of traditional faith and you'll end up being thought of as the party entirely bereft of faith save for the New Age varieties, which is hardly the case. Conservatives are not preoccupied with abortion, they're consumed by government-sponsored government financed industry of abortion. It's the inhumanely incomprehensibly huge number of abortions that disturbs conservatives, from how I read the situation, not abortions per se. Fiscal incontinence is not an indication of conservative decline, but rather the exact opposite, it was precisely that which caused so many conservatives to stay home at mid term elections and it's precisely that which will drive the more rational among democrats to vote outside their party to check.

I'm frankly tired of having these discussions, especially with seniors. Let me just say some peoples' minds are ossified. When the man brings up Keynesian economics in defense of his position, my impulse is to reach for the hurl bucket. He's managed to explain his review of present political landscape without once mentioning government interference in free markets. How convenient, or I should say essential to leave that out. When the writer fails to account for the effects of Community Reinvestment Acts, which by law forced bankers to come way out of character and do over decades un-bankerly things, then for financiers to create new mechanisms to shift the burden of that government meddling by disguising them so well they actually appear to be attractive investments, and to do all this on a scale so vast it affects the entire global financial system, then I'd say we're reading the writings of a delusional analyst.

One last controversial thing and I write this as a fiercely unaligned voter that despises both these chief political parties that cause writers to construct such palp: Congress authorized the use of force against Saddam Hussein. Democrat leaders are on record propounding something be done about Hussein as chief menace who must be taken out. The Congress, the UN, the leaders of the Western World all agreed, ALL of them agreed the man either had or was very close to obtaining WMD. The UN passed some thirteen decrees of condemnation and itself authorized the use of force. One single maniac in the form of a president acted while all the rest stepped back feigning horror. Much like the scene where Harry Potter appears to step forward to volunteer to ride the griffith, by the rest of the students actually stepping back en mass. That's exactly what the democrats in our congress did. But worse, after already spoken and voted for using force, these same legislators then demanded and got pork in abundance to support it. I'm saying, I saw, and conservative voters saw, ridiculously pork-laden legislation being passed that should have, would have, been otherwise been vetoed, were it not for the perceived need by the president to continually bribe through the vehicle of earmarked legislation for continued support of a war that was already voted for. Whatever your point of view on the war is, that is what I saw, and that is what a lot of conservative voters beholden to the Republican party saw and that is what caused a tidal shift in voting pattern. So this old man, who is clearly an aligned liberal, and that's fine, and ossified, which is less fine, who presumes to write on the arc of conservatism in general and its prospects, who can not seem count to four but manages nonetheless to include all the liberal memes without bothering with the real contemporary events, can not to be taken seriously, and I don't.

Bruce Hayden said...

Dolan,

Ok, then lets look at the two parties here. Clinton, of course, signed the repeal of Glass-Steagall. His people ran Fannie and Freddie up to the end. And when those agencies started looking sketchy, the Republicans pushed regulation, and the Democrats pushed back enough to prevent it, until too late.

And why? The rampant corruption. Yes, there are/were corrupt Republicans. But their level of financial and political corruption pales in relation to the Democrats. So, now we have a President who took dirty financial money, and a VP whose major constituents were many of the financial institutions that have gone down, or are going down the drain.

mccullough said...

Posner's a good writer but a dull speaker.

I'm sure Obama will fix all of this stuff. Obama is smart. He went to Harvard law school, just like Posner.

Of course, Bill Clinton went to Yale law school. Yale is a better law school than Harvard.

So Obama and Posner should ask themselves: What would Bill do?

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem with dissing Friedman is that he was right. Right now, the Democrats have endorsed Keynes with a vengeance not seen since FDR. And Friedman would have predicted the result - almost no stimulus value, with deficits as far as the eye can see. And, no, it isn't going to be $1.5 trillion this year, but somewhere between $1.8 and $2 trillion, some four times Bush's last deficit. All without notable stimulus value.

So, what else do we have? The biggest banks are now subsidiaries of the federal government. As a result, they appear to be moving away from being able to make money without federal subsidies. This was noticeable, when they signed on to taking $.30 on the dollar as secured creditors in Chrysler, allowing the unsecured UAW pension plan to get more than $.50 on the dollar (and the UAW as the biggest stockholder in the company). Not that Chrysler will be any better able to compete after this is all over.

Over the long and intermediate run, monetary economics, as taught by Friedman does work, and fiscal stimulus, as taught by Keynes, and practiced by Obama and the Democrats, does not. Rather, we are facing record deficits as far as we can see, higher interest rates, and inflation, for the first time in almost 30 years.

Donn said...

DTL:
But then of course there are facts . . .

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_record_of_the_past_1000_years
Facts?
The myth of scientific consensus is also perpetuated in the web’s Wikipedia where climate articles are vetted by William Connolley, who regularly runs for office in England as a Green Party candidate. No deviation from the politically correct line is permitted. (Richard S. Lindzen
Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

ElcubanitoKC said...

Jen said...
Oh, it was FUNNY. Get over it. I'm not quoting Tina Fea as an authority.

Do you honestly think that if a Republican politician stood up and said, "Listen. We've got some work to do here economically. And btw, lets acknowledge all the work that geologists, geophysicists, and astronomers have been doing in lieu of religious mythology."

He/She would get a single vote? Nope. He wouldn't be towing the party line.

9:37 AM
.


Which is really interesting taking into account that almost every black person in this country spouses similar views, yet they vote Democrat.

madawaskan said...

Has anybody bothered to tell them they've got-

John Maynard Keynes spelled wrong?

Paul Snively said...

“But I believe that we are approaching, or have reached, the point where there is not much advantage in applying further general stimulus at the centre.” — John Maynard Keynes, January 12, 1937

"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and now if I am wrong somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosper. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises. I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started. And enormous debt to boot." — Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Treasury Secretary, May 1939

madawaskan said...

What cyclical recovery might have taken place-Obama has cemented something of a Brave New Frontier into place.

Whatever Obama is cooking up-I hope the tasters don't die because I don't think too many of us have seen this particular brew-and it smells like a lot of other things that have been tried before-rather unsuccessfully for the most.

If you're at the top of the party-not too bad-in fact vintage!

It could take fifty years or more to get them out.

madawaskan said...

Interesting I was typing my comment up at the same time as Paul Snively.

Beth said...

Which is really interesting taking into account that almost every black person in this country spouses similar views, yet they vote Democrat.Yes, for the most part (though there are lots of exceptions in the South, particulary in the state houses), religious Democrats don't want to make their spiritual beliefs public policy. It's not the Republicans believe in God and Democrats don't.

madawaskan said...

Chip-

Barney Frank only exists in your mind...

Democrats having the majority of the House and Senate in 2006-that never. happened.

Where are you getting your "facts" dear boy?

Salamandyr said...

When there is testability, there is no need for "belief."Have you tested it? If you haven't, then you're taking it on faith that your received wisdom is more trustworthy than somebody else's received wisdom.

Actually, evolutionary theory relies more on observational science than experimental science. Which is fine, it's still science. And you don't actually have to do all the observation or experimentation yourself. But you need a lot more than a high school or undergraduate liberal arts major familiarity with evolution before you can honestly say that your belief in evolution is based on anything less resembling faith than a Christian or Muslim's belief in Creation.

Again, Democrat and Republican belief in God and creation is pretty much the same, unless one of them is lying. Your unfair generalization was insulting and gauche.

ElcubanitoKC said...

Beth, I beg to differ based on what I see here, and I don't live in the South.

Beth said...

EKC, I don't what you are differing about, sorry. Perhaps you could be more specific. My point was that while Southern Dems are more willing to sign on to social conservatism, overall, religious Democrats don't pursue the religious agendas that the GOP has absorbed.

madawaskan said...

So Posner in 2004 never wanted to see our "military posture strengthened" and he is referring to this in sort of an offhanded way as a "cost".

You know historically this has happened over, and over again.

[Wars of attrition engaged in by DEMOCRATS-let's get that straight.]

Liberals want to spend on bread and butter, they have set up dependent poor classes and then when a war does come to be -they send the poor boys in like lambs to the slaughter-bodies always being "cheaper" until our economy can be switched over to give them the damn equipment that they need. Or they tie one hand behind the military's back for a multitude of reasons best known by their small rare enclave.

It's never the rich Liberal elites that go in -or their sons and daughters.

Posner is he an Elitist?

ElcubanitoKC said...

Beth, at a local and state level, when it comes to banning things, or just legislating based on "religious values", both parties are equal, and not only in the South.

But, let us not discuss that to death. I see what I see, you see what you see. Places are different.

The problem is, has the social conservatism been the determining factor in the decay of the Republican Party? Or has it been its embrace of big government and crazy spending?

madawaskan said...

Oh Posner does go on-

The inanity of replacing will for intellect-

I suspect he wants to replace our will with his intellect...

That's probably Democrat neo Liberal 101.

And how dare you question their superior intellect!

Hoosier Daddy said...

My point was that while Southern Dems are more willing to sign on to social conservatism, overall, religious Democrats don't pursue the religious agendas that the GOP has absorbed..

I would agree with that. I have long lamented that the GOP is overly concerned with putting religion in the mix of everything. Unlike my alcohol consumption, I think religion should be consumed in moderation.

madawaskan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madawaskan said...

One factor of The Conservative movement collapse- idiot fringe mobs got too big a horn and screamed to the largest growing voter group that their mamas were criminals.

Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber-those were decisions made by John McCain if Posner wants to set up the premise that it was the whole of the Republican Party-then he can do it-but it's not exactly true.

More importantly it serves the Liberals purpose to crush dissent, to turn the hatred of Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin onto Republicans as a whole.

Jen said...

Sal:

Put down your copy of "Of Pandas and People".

The idea of testability is the foundation of scientific theory. The word theory is grossly misused and misconstrued for convenience. Can you try to falsify it? Is it testable? Then you have a theory.

Belief is not the same as attempting to understand the world around you through the formation and testing of a scientific theory.

I do not "believe" in evolution. Evolution is the current working theory that we have. As new knowledge becomes available, it changes.

Now, DNA? What's THAT all about? I don't believe a word of it.

Arturius said...

Belief is not the same as attempting to understand the world around you through the formation and testing of a scientific theory. Anecdotal story: I have a good friend who is a devout Christian which I don’t hold against him ;-) and in the past we have had some very spririted discussion on faith and God. One night while having a few drinks on his deck we saw a small blip of light moving across the sky, far too high to be plane but later determined it was a satellite. I made the offhand comment it was a UFO and he asked me if I believed in them. I said I believed there was life on other planets, not necessarily space faring beings, but I won’t discount the possibility. What I found humorous was his complete look of incredulity that I would subscribe to such a ‘fantastic notion’. When I pointed out that the Milky Way is just one of hundreds if not thousands of galaxies in the universe and in our own galaxy contains conservatively some 200 billion solar systems, it stands to reason, on statistical probability alone, that we are not the only life bearing planet in the entire galaxy. Now keep in mind I said life bearing, not little green men from Mars yet he dismissed the concept out of hand. Yet this is the same man who can look at me with a straight face and claim a supreme being created the heavens and earth in 6 days and took a nap on the 7th.

And yes he votes.

ElcubanitoKC said...

Narrow interpretations of religioin, Christianity and others, exist in many people, Arturius. You offered two contrary, yet equally narrow examples.

Salamandyr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Salamandyr said...

Jen,

Again, you haven't shown that you understand evolution yet. Pointing out that evolution is science is beside the point, since I wasn't declaring it wasn't. I was declaring, averring, and stating for the benefit of the jury, that for most people, belief in "evolution" is not scientific, but merely the received wisdom passed down by high school teachers instead of preachers. It's no more based on testability or fact than the notion that the world is elephants all the way down. Very few people really understand evolution, and for the great majority of us, that's irrelevant. Yet no end of people seem to derive immense satisfaction in their belief in something they don't actually understand.

And you would be more correct to say the basis of science is falsifiability. It seems like a minor difference, but it matters. It's not what they told you in high school chemistry, but all kinds of science is based on observation, without a lab coat or beaker in sight. Astronomers don't do "experiments" they watch the skies and come to conclusions about what they see. Astronomy is not "testable", but it is falsifiable.

And I have no idea what book you are referring to.

Jen said...

Arturius:

N = N* fp ne fl fi fc fL

Thank you for the story. You made my afternoon. I've heard Frank Drake speak twice now and it's been a lovely experience each time.

That would have been a conversation I would have enjoyed immensely.

Jen said...

Sal:

Sal said, "and you would be more correct to say the basis of science is falsifiability. It seems like a minor difference, but it matters."

I said both actually.

"Can you try to falsify it? Is it testable? Then you have a theory."

bearbee said...

To try to understand the magnitude of one trillion dollars, someone estimated that it would be like spending $1,000,000 per day since the day Jesus was born and still not having it all spent.

When we become like Zimbabwe we will hear our Rip Van Winkle Congress saying..."What?....what? How did this happen?!!"

As for the Chinese, they are buying gold.

TitusHasMoved said...

After much thought and consideration I have decided that there are no issues with our conservative movement.

Everything is fine.

We are proceeding in a fine direction.

Paddy O. said...

"Can you try to falsify it? Is it testable? Then you have a theory."

I don't see the difference. Of course belief is subject to attempts to falsify it. Of course, religious belief is testable.

No one believes without a reason. Everyone has a reason, a cause, a way in which their theory about the world's beginning and future affects their life. One they live out, and one in which will be verifiable. That it's not an easy verification, that there's future work to be done, that history itself is the lab shouldn't matter.

After all, how many scientific theories have developed long before the means to test them in the laboratory is possible? Whole sections of physics and astronomy. Theory is developed as a way of making sense of the world, that then can, if technology allows, be either verified or better developed.

The reality of this world is, after all, a rather complex subject, not like testing how force is affected by both velocity and mass.

Religions are theories about this world, that tend towards comprehensive perspectives on beginnings and the future, which can and will be verified one way or the other. In the meantime, religions rise and fall on their abilities to address comprehensive realities of our present life, as engaged in by billions of people.

buster said...

Jen said:

"When there is testability, there is no need for 'belief.'"


In light of earlier comments in the thread, I think your point is that statements about reality are meaningless (or "mythological")unless they are empirically testable or true by definition.

How do you know that. Is your claim empirically testable? Is it true by definition? Or is it an object of belief? If the latter, why is it a better belief than the ones you are attacking?

Jen said...

It all depends on how many people they can crucify and burn in the name of their religion in the process.

And you have the construct of a common theory confused with a scientific theory. Again. They are apples and. . . .rocks. Worlds apart. The same word is used to describe them, but they mean very different things. There is no testability for religion. It is open to any charlatan who chooses to come along and make a claim.

Please refer to Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit.

http://www.carlsagan.com/index_ideascontent.htm

Jen said...

Buster:

The next time you take an antibiotic because you have pneumonia, thank Fleming and the scientists who came after him not the Vatican or whomever.

Jen said...

Buster:

My POINT is never to rely on belief.

NightBastard said...

Aturius thinks there are hundreds if not thousands of galaxies in the universe.

And yes he votes.

Jeremy said...

bearbee said..."To try to understand the magnitude of one trillion dollars, someone estimated that it would be like spending $1,000,000 per day since the day Jesus was born and still not having it all spent. When we become like Zimbabwe we will hear our Rip Van Winkle Congress saying..."What?....what? How did this happen?!!"

Yes, a trillion is a lot.

Were you also sure we were going to become another Zimbabwe as we frittered away a trillion in Iraq?
Do you think we're somehow getting it all back some day?

Over the course of the "war" we've had American contractors literally stealing billions of dollars for doing absolutely nothing, we've given the Iraqi's and Pakistanis billions, yet suddenly, with the new administration's stimulus plan...conservatives are beside themselves over this massive waste of money.

And that's before we even know if the plan will work.

Rather hypocritical.

Donn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy said...

NightBastard - He was only off by a little...

In 1999 the Hubble Space Telescope estimated that there were 125 billion galaxies in the universe, and recently with the new camera HST has observed 3,000 visible galaxies, which is twice as much as they observed before with the old camera.

Jeremy said...

Donn - "Jen, you rely on "belief" for about 99.99% of what you think is true."

You base this on what?

Donn said...

Jen:
My POINT is never to rely on belief.
Jen, you rely on "belief" for about 99.99% of what you think is true.

Jen:
It all depends on how many people they can crucify and burn in the name of their religion in the process.
Yeah, like the far more that have been burned and crucified for non-religion.

Jen said...

Reduce the argument to absurdity.

What drivel.

Jen said...

Thanks Jeremy.

Donn said...

Jen:
Reduce the argument to absurdity.

What drivel.

Exactly what you have been doing ALL day!

Jeremy said...

Salamandyr said..."Jen,

Again, you haven't shown that you understand evolution yet. Pointing out that evolution is science is beside the point, since I wasn't declaring it wasn't. I was declaring, averring, and stating for the benefit of the jury, that for most people, belief in "evolution" is not scientific, but merely the received wisdom passed down by high school teachers instead of preachers."

Say what?

You think; "that for most people, belief in "evolution" is not scientific?"

What the hell do you base that on?

And when you say "most people," are you throwing scientists and archeologists into the mix?

What would make you think something like that?

Jen said...

Donn:

Science, testability, falsifiability, thought. . .make some people squeamish.

It's OH KAY.

Jen said...

I'm just going to go ahead and post the Baloney Detection Kit right here.

Warning signs that suggest deception. Based on the book by Carl Sagan, The Demon Haunted World. The following are suggested as tools for testing arguments and detecting fallacious or fraudulent arguments:

Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the facts.

Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.

Arguments from authority carry little weight (in science there are no "authorities").

Spin more than one hypothesis - don't simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.

Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it's yours.

Quantify, wherever possible.

If there is a chain of argument every link in the chain must work.

Occam's razor - if there are two hypotheses that explain the data equally well choose the simpler.

Ask whether the hypothesis can, at least in principle, be falsified (shown to be false by some unambiguous test). In other words, it is testable? Can others duplicate the experiment and get the same result?

Additional issues are:

Conduct control experiments - especially "double blind" experiments where the person taking measurements is not aware of the test and control subjects.

Check for confounding factors - separate the variables.

Common fallacies of logic and rhetoric

Ad hominem - attacking the arguer and not the argument.

Argument from "authority".

Argument from adverse consequences (putting pressure on the decision maker by pointing out dire consequences of an "unfavorable" decision).

Appeal to ignorance (absence of evidence is not evidence of absence).

Special pleading (typically referring to god's will).

Begging the question (assuming an answer in the way the question is phrased).

Observational selection (counting the hits and forgetting the misses).

Statistics of small numbers (such as drawing conclusions from inadequate sample sizes).

Misunderstanding the nature of statistics (President Eisenhower expressing astonishment and alarm on discovering that fully half of all Americans have below average intelligence!)

Inconsistency (e.g. military expenditures based on worst case scenarios but scientific projections on environmental dangers thriftily ignored because they are not "proved").

Non sequitur - "it does not follow" - the logic falls down.

Post hoc, ergo propter hoc - "it happened after so it was caused by" - confusion of cause and effect.

Meaningless question ("what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object?).

Excluded middle - considering only the two extremes in a range of possibilities (making the "other side" look worse than it really is).

Short-term v. long-term - a subset of excluded middle ("why pursue fundamental science when we have so huge a budget deficit?").

Slippery slope - a subset of excluded middle - unwarranted extrapolation of the effects (give an inch and they will take a mile).

Confusion of correlation and causation.

Caricaturing (or stereotyping) a position to make it easier to attack.

Suppressed evidence or half-truths.

Weasel words - for example, use of euphemisms for war such as "police action" to get around limitations on Presidential powers. "An important art of politicians is to find new names for institutions which under old names have become odious to the public"

Bruce Hayden said...

"Over the course of the "war" we've had American contractors literally stealing billions of dollars for doing absolutely nothing, we've given the Iraqi's and Pakistanis billions, yet suddenly, with the new administration's stimulus plan...conservatives are beside themselves over this massive waste of money."

First, this is unproven, but rather, a mantra of the left. But, if it is really true, then by all means, let's have hearings and investigations. That we haven't, with the Democrats controlling both Houses of Congress for over two years now indicates a lack of substance.

Second, we haven't seen anything yet. Right now, there is almost no accountability for all the "stimulus" money being spent, and the TARP money is little better. We are talking trillions, or at least hundreds of billions, not single digit billions as you are claiming here.

Bruce Hayden said...

To play devil's advocate here.

What actually has actually been proven with evolution? That it does happen? Or that we are a result of it?

I would suggest that the former has been shown, but not the later, and, indeed, it is unshowable and unprovable.

Which gets to the question of Intelligent Design, which posits a guiding hand behind, at least some, evolution. I would suggest that it is both unprovable, but also undisprovable.

The problem is that we can see where one genetic mutation results in a single evolutionary change. For example, scientists can show the genetic mutation that caused tri-color vision in (mostly) old world monkeys (including primates). They even can give us a pretty good estimate of when it happened. The mutation was a duplication of one of the two genes that other mammals have for their two color vision. And, a plausible theory has been devised for how evolutionary forces drove its acceptance (being able to recognize red leaves would help these monkeys detect the best food).

But there are plenty of places in our genetic evolution where there are major jumps that we have no record for. Maybe a dozen genes are changed without intervening specimens. And that is where the problem is. We frankly cannot prove either way whether these jumps were made through Divine Intervention, or through the same sort of evolutionary process that gave us three color vision. The math right now would seem to support Intelligent Design over straight forward genetic evolution, but, we really don't know, and probably can never know for sure, either way.

buster said...

Jen said:

"Buster:

The next time you take an antibiotic because you have pneumonia, thank Fleming and the scientists who came after him not the Vatican or whomever."

Nice try, Jen, but it's bullshit. The Vatican isn't in the business of doing scientific research. You might just as well say we ought to thank Fleming not Shakespeare for antibiotics.

So far as I can tell, you seem to be arguing (whether you know it or not) that scientific inquiry is not limited to empirical questions, but instead applies to all human experience. (IOW, no statement is meaningful (true, non-"mythological," etc.) unless it is empirically testable or analytically true.) Otherwise there is no reason to say that scientific inquiry displaces religious belief or any non-scientific body of thought.

Scientific inquiry is actually limited to a subset of human experience, and it irrelevant as a matter of logic to all the rest. It turns out that "all the rest" includes most of what most people, including scientists, take most seriously: morality, aethestics, politics, "the meaning of life," etc. Statements about all of the rest are not testable in the sense you are using the word. Religion is part of all of the rest.

Some religious believers commit the opposite fallacy, and argue that religious belief extends to empirical matters. E.g., the earth is 5,000 years old because the Bible supposedly says so. It's easy to poke fun at these folks, but it doesn't throw much light on anything interesting.

Donn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donn said...

Jen:
Science,testability,falsifiability, thought. . .make some people squeamish.

Yeah, right. Mind telling me how the above forms your views on politics?

AlphaLiberal said...

This is remarkable for the man it's coming from. A product of the Chicago school with a reputation for being a free marketeer.

It turns out that markets aren't perfect. And Judge Posner noticed.

The thing is, we're just repeating history here. This naive "business people and markets do no wrong" ideology creates corruption, bubbles, and economic houses of cards. Knock out one card and it all comes tumbling down.

""These unanticipated and shocking events have exposed significant analytical weaknesses in core beliefs of conservative economists concerning the business cycle and the macroeconomy generally."Well said. And, folks? The point of the thread. The conservative movement is bankrupt -- and has bankrupted the country.

Palladian said...

"It turns out that markets aren't perfect. And Judge Posner noticed."

Oh shut up.

"The conservative movement is bankrupt -- and has bankrupted the country."

Interesting! So what's the budget deficit for this year? $1.75 TRILLION! Haha! That may be hope but it sure ain't change! That be real money! Hope your kid's kids will be ready to start working to pay that off, you little socialist bitch! :)

Arturius said...

Aturius thinks there are hundreds if not thousands of galaxies in the universe..

So does NASA.

And yes he votes..

Actually I haven't voted since 1992

AlphaLiberal said...

Palladian ignorantly demands silence from uncomfortable realities:

"It turns out that markets aren't perfect. And Judge Posner noticed."

Oh shut up.
Wow. What a scintillating intellect you have.

This is a key issue of our day. We're told to trust the markets and don't trust government.

But markets fail in many ways. And that hurts America and must be addressed with rules and regulations to limit the damage.

And all you can do is sputter "shut up."

Strip away the bile from Palladian's comments and there is very litte remaining.