March 13, 2020

"I’ve been arguing that philosophers don’t need to believe in their arguments in order to make them. But what they do need to believe in is..."

"... the project of philosophical inquiry itself. A philosopher might offer up her argument in the absence of conviction but in the hopes of furthering the philosophical discussion around it. This is very different from someone who offers up a controversial claim in order to stir the pot of internet discourse, or enrage his opponents. While belief in one’s position can be laudable, it’s not the only laudable motive for doing philosophy. One can aim at truth even while reserving judgment on whether one has hit it this time."

Writes philosophy professor Alexandra Plakias in "Let People Change Their Minds" (OUPblog).

This got me thinking about an essay in The Atlantic that I was just reading: "Cool It, Krugman/The self-sabotaging rage of the New York Times columnist" by Sebastian Mallaby:
In [a 1993 essay], Krugman reflects on his approach to academic research and emphasizes his facility with simple mathematical models that necessarily incorporated “obviously unrealistic assumptions.” For example, his work on trade theory, which helped win him the Nobel Prize, assumed countries of precisely equal economic size. “Why, people will ask, should they be interested in a model with such silly assumptions?” Krugman writes. The answer, as he tells us, is that minimalism yielded insight. His contribution to economics, in his own estimation, was “ridiculous simplicity.”

That same contribution distinguishes his journalism.... But Krugman should surely be the first to admit that his journalism, like his research, is founded on radical simplification. Like those economic models that assume people are perfectly rational, he presumes that his adversaries are perfectly corruptible. ...
In the end, one’s judgment about Krugman the columnist depends on the test that he applies to economic models: Their assumptions are allowed to be reductive, but they must yield a persuasive story. If you accept that almost all conservatives are impervious to reason, you will celebrate Krugman’s writings for laying bare reality. But... [m]ost people [have motives that] are mixed, confused, and mutable..... Krugman’s “ridiculous simplicity” produces writing that is fluent, compelling, and yet profoundly wrong in its understanding of human nature. And the mistake is consequential. For the sake of our democracy, a supremely gifted commentator should at least try to unite citizens around common understandings....
Are Mallaby and Plakias taking different positions? Would Plakias support what Mallaby says Krugman is doing?

74 comments:

glenn said...

He’s part right. His assumptions are ridiculous.

Ken B said...

Great analysis of Krugman by Mallaby.

The answer is Plakias would see Krugman is advancing an agenda rather than seeking truth or understanding.

Francisco D said...

Krugman writes. The answer, as he tells us, is that minimalism yielded insight. His contribution to economics, in his own estimation, was “ridiculous simplicity.”

I agree with Krugman that his approach (applied to any scientific field) can yield insight. That insight can be used to devise future experiments. Only in that narrow sense, it is useful.

It would be foolish to extrapolate beyond that insight. The data generated is otherwise useless.

traditionalguy said...

What’s not to love. The adversarial system used in our courts by great lawyers is now the modus operandi of Philosophers. Now all Philosophers need is a jury system. But not a faked peer review pretense.

Psota said...

This idea that Paul Krugman is a "supremely gifted commentator" is, itself, fundamentally flawed

Lucid-Ideas said...

I'm a regular reader of Marginal Revolution - Tyler Cowen's blog - and commenter there, and Krugman has become something of a joke within that learned and 'academed' online community.

Here's the fundamental problem for economists as it relates to philosophy. It is scientific up to a point when relativistic modeling (i.e. mathematical) is predictable, but just like looking for the Higgs Boson or trying to capture an electron on film or trying to model a black hole, everything falls apart completely when trying to model the 'animal spirits' of human economic interaction, and there IS A HUGE AMOUNT of that economic interaction that doesn't make any sense and by definition is not rational.

This is why these guys always balk at being called pseudo-scientists but end up having to accept the title in the end. This isn't particle physics. We just don't have any good or reliable models that can predict how humans will act, even rationally, with regard to their interactions with each other.

Krugman is a pseudo-scientist. A highly decorated and paid-attention to pseudo-scientist, but neither he nor his profession are actual scientists that can predict anything about any economy ever.

robother said...

Radically simplifying assumptions have contributed so much to 20th Century civilization:
1. Assume that all Blacks are...
2. Assume that all Jews are...
3. Assume that all Kulaks are....
4. Assume that all Capitalists are...
5. Assume that all Tutsis are...

Krugman is working in a grand tradition.

Calypso Facto said...

Krugman lives by the mantra of Ivy Baker Priest: "I'm often wrong, but never in doubt."

Skeptical Voter said...

Only a progressive would posit that Krugman is "a supremely gifted communicator". Krugman frequently displays evidence of a ridiculously simple mind where political economy is concerned. His fundamental premise is "Orange Man Bad". His second premise is "conservatives are impervious to reason (as Krugman sees it) so there's no point in trying".

Now as the General Counsel of a Fortune 50 company once remarked, "A good litigator can convince a jury that bull(dust) tastes like vanilla ice cream". Now that's what a supremely gifted communicator can do. Krugman peddles bull(dust) and it's never once tasted like vanilla ice cream for most of us.

Nonapod said...

If you accept that almost all conservatives are impervious to reason, you will celebrate Krugman’s writings for laying bare reality.

This is basically describing confirmation bias. A person that imagines that everyone who disagrees with them are ignorant and unreasonable is naturally going to enjoy reading material that confirms that assumption. Confirmation bias certainly explains how a character like Krugman remains employable after being so catastrophically wrong so often. Of course the very people who joyfully lap up Krugman's nonsense and sophistry seem pretty impervious to reason themselves. After all, what truly reasonable and thoughtful person would continue to read material produced by a demonstrable fool and interpret it as plausible? After all, this is the guy who opined that "The growth of the Internet will slow drastically... By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's."...and that's just one example of his many ludicrous predictions that turned out wildly wrong.

Ambrose said...

"I've been arguing that philosophers don't need to believe in their arguments in order to make them...'

"Oh come on, you can't really believe that!"

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Not a fan of Krugman, I rarely read. When he sticks to straight economics however he is quite thoughtful. He is very emotional when it comes to politics, to an extent that makes him unreadable much of the time. I prefer the columnists who just hate everybody.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

We can point out - clear as day - how and why Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden are corrupt. How they use their power to enrich their own family.

Daniel Jackson said...

A physicist, an engineer, and an economist were stranded on an island. One day, they found a can of baked beans washed up on the shore. The three were puzzled on how to open the can.

The physicist said, "Let us take off our glasses to use them to concentrated sunlight to melt the can."

The engineer said, "We can gather large stones, place them on the can, and by the force exerted, the seams of the can will part."

The economist listened with skepticism. "Look, both of you guys are wrong. The sunlight models will incinerate the beans; the force test model will scatter the beans in the sand rendering the contents inedible."

"Okay, wise guy," the other two said. "What's your model?"

"Simple," replied the economist. "First, assume a can opener..."

Fresh meat for dinner, places for two.

Unknown said...

Sweep with Me (Innkeeper Chronicles Book 5)
by Ilona Andrews

I said [elsewhere] that "Ilona Andrews rarely disappoints", but this is one of their minor books, and not nearly as good as Book 4, _Sweep of the Blade_ which focused on Dina's sister Maude. Here we are back at Dina's Texas inn, a semi-sentient lifeform in house shape which functions as a Simakinan "Way Station" for the galactic crossroads that is Earth.

As usual, Dina has troublesome guests. This time it's a flock of philosophical space-chickens, who make their finer debating points with hand grenades, the ruler of a bloody off-planet magical nation, Earth-born and come home to deal, conclusively, with her family issues and deadly General who needs to know how Dina's werewolf lover (now formally an Innkeeper himself) managed to make peace with the Hope-Crushing Horde. To make matters worse, Dina is off her game: Her bond with the Inn is shakey after recent events, and the Inkeeper Council has a lot of pointed questions upcoming about the questionable events that keep transpiring in her domain.

It's a good enough setup, but the denouments were off here, comparable to those of a few books ago where all the protagonists got together for a psychic "Kumbuyah" session. Well, OK, not as bad as that one, but still the resolutions were a bit weak. As I said, minor Andrews, which is still not to be sniffed at.

Narr said...

Social Science ain't.

Science, that is. My man Martin van Creveld has some interesting thoughts at As I Please--most recently on "The Reign of Uncertainty." He has reviewed Walter Scheidel's history The Great Leveler also--some here might be interested.

Narr
Krugman's a noob

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Its a fundamental mistake to see people as purely economic units. I'm reminded of something I read awhile back. The author was describing some of the reasons that can make breaking out of poverty so difficult. One of them was the inability to accumulate funds needed for such things as education/training, buying a reliable car so you can get to work regularly, etc. The reason it was difficult to accumulate funds is because if you have any more money than is needed at the moment, someone in your family will expect you to "loan" it to them. If you refuse you are alienating your family.

gspencer said...

"In [a 1993 essay], Krugman reflects on his approach to academic research"

What surprised me the most is the claim by Krugman that he does "research."

Earnest Prole said...

Why, people will ask, should they be interested in a model with such silly assumptions?

In theory there's no difference between theory and practice.

CJinPA said...

We all need to remember that people have the right to be wrong.

tim maguire said...

Ironically, the people who embrace Krugman’s assumption that conservatives are impervious to reason are necessarily themselves impervious to reason because they reject out of hand other ideas without fairly considering them. Not unlike Krugman, whose greatest contribution to public discourse is his work revealing the Nobel Prize in economics as a fraud.

Yancey Ward said...

"The reason it was difficult to accumulate funds is because if you have any more money than is needed at the moment, someone in your family will expect you to "loan" it to them. If you refuse you are alienating your family."

I went to my brother to ask for a loan cause I was busted
I hate to beg like a dog without his bone, but I'm busted
My brother said there ain't a thing I can do,
My wife and my kids are all down with the Wuhan flu,
And I was just thinking about calling on you 'cause I'm busted.

Bay Area Guy said...

Krugman has a nice perch of social/cultural real estate at the NYT. It's fun to have the high ground, watch the plebes hustle and bustle thru their pitiful lives. It's almost an aphrodisiac.

But, of course, what good is it, if you can't influence folks? You wanna influence policy makers, you want them to impose your vision on the plebes. Kinda like Harvard professors.



Yancey Ward said...

Arnold Kling runs a blog that is based on his fundamental principle of "taking the most charitable view of those who disagree". This is something few pundits in politics really do, and I don't think it is necessarily the case that it is worse today than in the past. Krugman is probably the worst there is today that is widely read- he is definitely the worst at the NYTimes. However, I think Krugman's is all an act- he realized early on how to make a comfortable living feeding the left what they want to read and hear, and in that, one has to admire his ruthlessness.

Silly Calabrese said...

I would suggest that the discussion about belief has no bearing on philosophical discussion. When philosophers follow trains of thought, they do so often as adventurers or explorers. When they write books, they are laying out an arrangement of thoughts patterned in a way which makes sense to the philosopher. All philosophers hope that those patterns of thought relate in some profound way to the world as it actually is. 'Belief' is part of a different set of structures, those relevant to superstition and magic, where the belief is about things which are by their nature unverifiable and unprovable, and in most cases unlikely.

gspencer said...

I went to my brother to ask for a loan cause I was busted
I hate to beg like a dog without his bone, but I'm busted
My brother said there ain't a thing I can do,
My wife and my kids are all down with the Wuhan flu,
And I was just thinking about calling on you 'cause I'm busted


Afroman nailed it,

I messed up my entire life because I got high
I lost my kids and wife because I got high (say what, say what, say what, say what)
Now I'm sleeping on the sidewalk and I know why (why, man?)
Yeah, hey
'Cause I got high
Because I got high
Because I got high
La da da da da da

joshbraid said...

"One can aim at truth even while reserving judgment on whether one has hit it this time."

The point is to aim at "truth". Even Pontius Pilate knew that. However, I think it incongruous and dishonest to proceed by assuming what is easily proven false, such as "all X are impervious to reason", a la Krugman. This really is the crux of the problem: hacks like the "journalist" Krugman are not apparently aiming at truth but a tribal security, etc. . This is the current (although also historical) problem with the media, that they are aiming to soothe the tribe rather than to disturb us all by aiming at the truth. In the end I don't need "journalist"s to always be correct, just to be always aiming at the truth, often producing some discomfort in me which I often find profitable.

Gusty Winds said...

Krugman's lack of self-awareness is hilarious. Little man. Big ego. Black heart.

Rick said...

Krugman isn't a philosopher, he's a propagandist. He famously disputes that minimum wage increases reduce hours worked even though every economic textbook clearly states this including the one authored by ...Paul Krugman. He's willing to trade his Nobel credibility to advance leftism and why not? It got him the NYT gig along with his Enron and other hagiography payoffs. Leftism sucks for most of the country but there's a huge payoff for those atop our left wing political advocacy institutions, hence academia's near total support.

Other than the Nobel Krugman is no different than people pretending to "feel unsafe" because people with different opinions exist. Everyone knows both are lying.

grog said...

"...I prefer the columnists who just hate everybody."

Got a chuckle out of that one. Thanks, ARM.

James Graham said...

Nobel prizes for economists may not be "a dime a dozen" but considering the relatively small universe (the world total number of prominent economists) getting one of these annual awards is a rather minor accomplishment.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

I think Mallaby is looking for an intellectual/philosophical foundation for Krugman's NYT writings that just isn't there.

Seems pretty obvious to me that "where he's coming from" is a crude and id-ruled sort place, not an unfortunately overly-simplified product of the empyrean intellect, slightly besmirched by matter.

rhhardin said...

Philosphers are mansplaining. The way it works must be this ...

That's why Vicki Hearne likes to follow philophers and make slight corrections where necessary.

Fernandistein said...

there IS A HUGE AMOUNT of that economic interaction that doesn't make any sense and by definition is not rational.

If a behavior exists, it's a cheap shot to define it as "not rational", because it "doesn't make any sense" (like quantum mechanics). It doesn't make any sense because it difficult to understand, not because it's irrational.

rhhardin said...

Women, by thinking sideways to shallow connections rather than thinking deeply, are not able to follow the rhetorical delusions that philosophers work within. This mostly turns up as a female lack of interest in the field, but sometimes it produces an amusing commentator.

rhhardin said...

This lady doesn't know what philosophers do, though.

Lucid-Ideas said...

One more thing about the 'science' of economics is that like a bunch of other 'social-sciences' it has been completely co-opted by the need to either support and knock-down political concerns.

People keep making this mistake, and have made plenty of these last century. Sometimes scientific theories or applications take decades, maybe centuries, to pan out and be proven 'true' (as in physically or mathematically) and this time span is incompatible with political concerns. Science - true science - is not about finding truth that is nice. In many cases it's finding results from your hypothesis that are horrifying, and doubly so politically (back in the day you might get burned alive at the stake).

Economics is a 'science' that at its very core is political (who gets what, when, where, and how). It is not politically convenient for Krugman to come out and say, "No you dummies the only true minimum wage is 0!". That is a non-starter, regardless of it being the truth.

From economics to climate, the philosophy of science has been co-opted from 'finding the truth' to 'give us some good news'.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Krugman once said that he was inspired to become an economist by reading Asimov's Foundation series of novels. Foundation is built around the sociology of a fictional character named Hari Seldon, who has devised a mathematics that can predict the course of human civilization. The parallels to Marxism are obvious to me now, but went completely over my head when I first read Foundation when I was in my teens.
The narrative of history is not predictable, because it is the aggregation of decisions made by millions or billions of individuals with free will.
In physics you model the behavior of a real gas with a hypothetical ideal gas. You can do this because the trillions of trillions of molecules that make up a real gas are not individual actors. They each follow the laws of physics.
People are individuals, and they often direct their economic energy in ways that are irrational or foolish. A person might impoverish himself or herself to prolong the life of a loved one solely because they are their loved one. A parent might invest heavily in a private education for an idiot or wastrel child. People gamble at casinos where they are rationally certain to lose money.
Krugman hates humanity because humanity does not act in a way that can be modeled.
Anyhow, I would bet that any physics grad student at a small state university knows more math than Krugman.

Josephbleau said...

“Krugman is a pseudo-scientist. A highly decorated and paid-attention to pseudo-scientist, but neither he nor his profession are actual scientists that can predict anything about any economy ever.“

Whether or not it is pseudo science Econ is certainly social science. WH Auden wrote, never commit a social science. An economist will look at you, raise his eyebrow, and say yes, it works in practice, but does it work in theory?

We will have to wait for Harry Seldon to sort it out.

n.n said...

Science is a near-frame philosophy and practice. Anything outside (e.g. philosophy, faith, fantasy) of the scientific domain is a belief based on myth (e.g. circumstantial physical or historical evidence), including the galaxy, universe that is inferred from signals of unknown fidelity. Life is a chaotic (e.g. evolutionary) process. People are chaotic, individually, but less in a group, where there are converging, predictable points of interest. Ironically, the source of human evolution at conception is not a mystery, not faith, not even suitable to philosophical debate, but is the single greatest controversy for people of twilight (i.e. conflation of logical domains) faith, secular religious (e.g. "ethics" or relativistic) conviction, and liberal (i.e. divergent) ideology.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

It doesn't make any sense because it difficult to understand, not because it's irrational.

That's an interesting question right there. Do sane people ever act irrationally or are the reasons they do something you think is irrational just not understood by you.

If the definition of rational is:

"based on or in accordance with reason or logic."

I'm going to say that people do irrational things all the time.

pacwest said...

A philosopher might offer up her argument in the absence of conviction but in the hopes of furthering the philosophical discussion around it.

Metaphysics. Usually reserved for dorm room discussions.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUOGxePBs50

cubanbob said...

Ron Winkleheimer : yours is a very astute point. That and a lack of clear property rights and the courts to enforce them are another core problem. These two issues are at the core of why the third world stays the thirld world.

Rick said...

Here are the keys to Krugman's dishonesty:

1. Krugman contends that he didn’t change. Rather, politics did. Republicans lost respect for facts and data...George W. Bush anticipated the revolt against experts when he sold his tax-cut proposal dishonestly during the 2000 election campaign.

Unspoken here is that the theory government spending leads to economic improvement is based on the same flaw as the belief tax cuts fully pay for themselves. But Krugman has no problem with that belief, in fact it is his core (and effectively only) tenet.

2. In the Obama years, technocrats determined that the Federal Reserve’s bond-buying in a depressed economy wouldn’t generate dangerous inflation, but “the official Republican view,” Krugman tells us, was that the Fed was being irresponsible. In the Trump presidency, technocrats have pointed out the lack of support for the claim that tax cuts for high earners will generate prosperity, but Republicans have preached this gospel regardless.

Of course these aren't technocrat positions, they are left wing activist positions. Krugman just can't tell the difference.

3. To see what Krugman means in practice, let’s apply his rules to the topic that best suits his approach. As he rightly maintains, Republican leaders have repeatedly ignored the solid expert consensus on climate change. Given that this consensus has been clear for more than a decade, it is fair to conclude that Republican leaders are consciously making false statements—in other words, that they are liars. Guessing at their motives seems risky but not totally unreasonable. Conceivably, they might be lying because they don’t want to irk voters with the news that hamburgers and pickup trucks are cooking the planet. But Krugman is basically right that “almost all prominent climate deniers are on the fossil-fuel take.” To state the matter plainly, conservatives lie about this issue because they are paid to lie. Or, in Krugman’s broad and snarling formulation: “Republicans don’t just have bad ideas; at this point, they are, necessarily, bad people.”

Applying these tests to Krugman's public statements on minimum wages yields exactly the same conclusions: he's a liar and a bad person.

4. Krugman’s blunt approach has powerful attractions. For one thing, it delights his liberal readers, and may inspire some of them to advocate for better policy.

Yes, because they are liars and bad people as well.

5. Krugman: “If you’re debating bad-faith opponents, acknowledging their motives is just a matter of being honest about what’s going on.” By ignoring evidence and lying, Republicans are signaling that they cannot be reasoned with. In Krugman’s summation,“the mendacity is the message.”

Demonstrably applicable to Krugman.

The most revealing thing about all this is how left wingers who support these views refuse to apply it to themselves. This is the essence of left wing privilege. Only the out-group is subject to any standard on any subject. And they can change the standard at will because they will never apply it to themselves.

Fernandistein said...

Philosophers are caught smoking in the bathroom

Ann Althouse said...

"This lady doesn't know what philosophers do, though."

I added the words "philosophy professor" in front of her name in the post.

Not that I think it will change your opinion.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Republican leaders have repeatedly ignored the solid expert consensus on climate change. Given that this consensus has been clear for more than a decade, it is fair to conclude that Republican leaders are consciously making false statements—in other words, that they are liars.

I don't know about Republican leaders, but I see plenty of reasons to doubt the "solid expert consensus on climate change." And even if I agreed that AGW was happening that doesn't mean that I have to agree with the proffered solutions. Why aren't we building nuclear power plants? And as for cows - 98.4 million in USA in 2019, bison - pre 1800s estimated 60,000,000. What to do about AGW is a political question, and one of the possible answers is - nothing, at least for now.

Sebastian said...

"We just don't have any good or reliable models that can predict how humans will act, even rationally, with regard to their interactions with each other."

Of course, much depends on what you mean by "models," but still -- this is false. Many human interactions are quite predictable, including by the people participating in them.

Sebastian said...

"He is very emotional when it comes to politics."

In a more self-aware person, that might alter the radical simplicity.

daskol said...

Krugman isn't a philosopher, he's a propagandist.

That's fair, and in light of his approach to economics, a fair characterization of his approach to research. He is not aiming at truth, he is trying to squeeze insight from the simplest possible model of a problem. There's philosophy in there, and applying that observation to his punditry is very interesting. He's also vicious and hateful in his punditry, though. I think there's an implied model of his supporters as not particularly thoughtful people motivated primarily by emotion, so it's not just his opponents for whom he shows contempt.

Lucid-Ideas said...

@Sebastian

Models = theories in the scientific sense

And no, it is not false. The 20th century was quite literally the century devoted to the destruction of hundreds, if not thousands of 'models' for the predictability of human interaction. The last truly predictable era of human interaction was probably around the transition into the industrial revolution from an agrarian past that lasted almost 8,000 years.

I would love - LOVE - to have a time machine and bring Thomas Jefferson to this century to meet Bradley "Chelsea" Manning....

...the last 150 years of human conduct on planet earth has been devoted to nothing but social disruption and human models of behavior of every kind. You are incorrect.

cubanbob said...

Ron Winkleheimer said...
It doesn't make any sense because it difficult to understand, not because it's irrational.

That's an interesting question right there. Do sane people ever act irrationally or are the reasons they do something you think is irrational just not understood by you.

If the definition of rational is:

"based on or in accordance with reason or logic."

I'm going to say that people do irrational things all the time.

3/13/20, 11:56 AM"

Everyone including the crazy act logically and rationally in accordance to their logic. It's only when their actions are outside the zone of convergence with most people's logic system are they considered to be acting irrational and crazy. As for Krugman as noted by others above thread is simply an entertainer giving his audience what they want. In a way, he's not crazy or irrational when viewed by the logic most people use that you have to find a way to make money. Prostitutes are also in the business of making money.

Lurker21 said...

Caring about the arguments is what makes a philosopher. It wasn't always so. The Ancient Greek who said everything is made of fire or water was most likely more interested in his idea than in arguing about it with others. There are ideologues and doctrinaires who feel the same way nowadays, but we don't believe that they have "philosophical" minds. You have to love the give and take of argument, not simply try to bludgeon critics with the force of your own conviction.

When philosophy becomes too academic, too concerned with sophisticated nuances and narrow distinctions, one might wish for some of the older self-assured conviction to return, but there are always enough true believers in some idea or vision of their own who don't bother to consider counter-arguments that we scarcely need more of them. Economists are as much in love with the nuances and distinctions of their discipline as philosophers or any other academics are, but if Krugie's models are as simplistic as people say, and if partisanship dominates his thinking, then he's more of a doctrinaire or ideologue than a philosopher.

Unknown said...

Asimov's "Psychohistory" in the Foundation series was modeled more on physics than Marxism. The idea is that in physics you can't predict what an individual gas molecule will do, but it doesn't matter because you can predict what millions of them together will do. Likewise you can't predict what a single human will do, but in job lots you can.

Or that's the theory, but Asimov knew he was writing fiction, and knew it was wrong. As for Marxism -- he was for sure a lib, but he grew up in a family business and never went full socialist.

Greg the class traitor said...

"The reason it was difficult to accumulate funds is because if you have any more money than is needed at the moment, someone in your family will expect you to "loan" it to them. If you refuse you are alienating your family."

And thus the invention of the "layaway" system, where you give the store money, they hold the product, and you keep on giving them money until the product is paid for, whereupon you get it.

You might have money in your layaway plan, but you don't personally have any money, so your'e not "holding out" on people

Ken B said...

Althouse
I wonder which lady Hardin meant.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Sebastian said...

"We just don't have any good or reliable models that can predict how humans will act, even rationally, with regard to their interactions with each other."

Of course, much depends on what you mean by "models," but still -- this is false. Many human interactions are quite predictable, including by the people participating in them.


But we don't know for certain which human interactions are quite predictable. We may think that we know which human interactions are predictable, we may be absolutely certain that we have arrived at this conclusion using evidence and reason. And then we will be shown to have been wrong.

William said...

I have, on occasion, thumbed through essay collections by H.L. Mencken, Walter Lippmann and Murray Kempton. They got a lot of things wrong, but what strikes you is the felicity of their writing. Their reputations didn't rest so much on their wisdom as on their writing ability. They were good writers. Krugman, regardless of the merits of his arguments, is not an interesting writer. Whatever your objections to Friedman and Dowd, they sometimes hit on an telling metaphor or bitchy insight while making their points......Krugman's public persona exactly matches his literary output. He looks shifty, boring, and malicious. The persona of very few writers so exactly matches their writings. Christopher Hitchens on stage looked witty, incisive, and world weary which is what you got in his writings. Peggy Noonan looks prim and proper, and that's how she reads. Paul Krugman's offputting personal mannerisms is what you get from his writings.

daskol said...

Matt Taibbi is a modern writer who gets a lot of things wrong who has a way with a phrase, and is directionally accurate and interesting often enough that I like reading him. Describing Goldman Sachs during the financial crisis: "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessy jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."

Rosalyn C. said...

"One can aim at truth even while reserving judgment on whether one has hit it this time." Plakias

Krugman advances his beliefs as truth based on theories he knows are simplistic and incorrect. Mallaby

I say that Plakias would not support what Mallaby says Krugman is doing. He is not advancing thought and knowledge by being willing to consider and develop a variety of points of views, some of which are wrong. He is way past considering other view points and he would never admit his "truth" is wrong because ultimately what he believes is his opinion. Opinions are just subjective reality, they don't have to apply to other people or a larger sphere, there is no right or wrong opinion. No one expects Krugman to advance the cause of knowledge or higher truth, let alone economics. He's not a philosopher. He's a columnist with the NT Times with a political agenda who won a Nobel Prize which allegedly gives his opinion some significance. There are probably a lot of Nobel Prize winners out there who are total crackpots, but they don't have NYT columns so their opinions are ignored.

I see that Krugman and the European elites are ridiculing Trump for the EU travel ban because "The virus is already here." So why not just add as many more cases as possible, according to Krugman. A real AHOLE.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Everyone including the crazy act logically and rationally in accordance to their logic. It's only when their actions are outside the zone of convergence with most people's logic system are they considered to be acting irrational and crazy.

Humans aren't rational animals, they are rationalizing animals. Meaning, sure you can always find an excuse for what you do, but that doesn't make it rational.

Tina Trent said...

Krugman looks in photos as if he is just about to take a bite of someone else’s sandwich.

If he really cared about the environment, he’d go first. But he lives in a vast mansion and flies constantly.

Brody Oaks said...

Krugman writes the same column every time - Democrats good, Republicans bad, Keynesianism! He's really rather boring. His commenters, though! They remind me of the Dufflepuds from C.S. Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Amadeus 48 said...

"the solid expert consensus on climate change"

What is that, please?

Amadeus 48 said...

Personally, I am a great believer in the power of micro-economic analysis.

Macroeconomics, on the other hand, is often silly sophistry intended to add authority to self-delusion.

rhhardin said...

"This lady doesn't know what philosophers do, though."

I added the words "philosophy professor" in front of her name in the post.

Not that I think it will change your opinion.


Right. She doesn't understand the obsession that drives philosophers but takes it as a way to get a degree.

Women astronomers and women mathematicians give lectures and the falloff from the males is striking. They can't motivate because they're not actually motivated by the obsession that makes the field. They follow it as sort of drones.

Philosophers have lots of excellent women translators, on the other hand. I think they can appreciate the results of the work; and Vicki Hearne adds sideways connections that bave been abstracted away and make all the difference to the sweeping conclusion the guy had in mind.

rhhardin said...

Barbara Johnson, Derrida's translator for Dissemination, has a huge preface explaining the work that is as good as the work itself, albeit just repeating it in more accessible ways. Harvard faculty but I think an Oberlin graduate.

Excellent stuff but women can't imitate men in their obsessions. They've got their own and it becomes another field.

rhhardin said...

I was going to say that women in men's fields are stressed by being found out, and wanted the name of the syndrome. Google only finds me "imposter syndrome," but it's a better name than that. Nonetheless wiki says

"While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally."

Anyway women you might date at work, in a man's field, are really all up with it. There isn't a good way to say relax, nobody cares how good you are, as far as I know.

Jim at said...

I love how the Krugman and lying tags appear next to each other.
Maybe make it a single.

rhhardin said...

"If they thought you were any good, they wouldn't have made you a manager."

Lewis Wetzel said...


Blogger Amadeus 48 said...
Personally, I am a great believer in the power of micro-economic analysis.
Macroeconomics, on the other hand, is often silly sophistry intended to add authority to self-delusion.
3/13/20, 3:24 PM

That's because you can reduce the number of inputs. How do you analyze the consumption of a million ice cream cones as an economically rational or irrational activity? Regression can only do so much.

rhhardin said...

Try Chapter 8 of Vicki Hearne's _Bandit_, "Beastly Behaviors," for an essay on male-female differences in mental drives. Not itself philosophy, so not a field. Just an essay. Not restricted in kinds of evidence, you could say. Goes sideways.

The whole book is great, a nice example of how to think. Against the media.

Lewis Wetzel said...

Blogger Brody Oaks said...
Krugman writes the same column every time - Democrats good, Republicans bad, Keynesianism!

Except it is not really keynesianism. Krugman has hijacked the term. Keynesianism doesn't really apply in a world (as we have) where prices aren't "sticky" and supply chains are more difficult to disrupt than they were in the 1920s-1950s. It is more difficult for a central authority to step in and fix these issues than it was in the old days.
Krugman has hijacked the much more prestigious name of JM Keyenes. What he really preaches is "Krugmanism."