Saturday, August 02, 2014

Quoting Krugman.

I quote from an opinion piece in the New York Times by Paul Krugman:
One of the best insults I’ve ever read came from Ezra Klein, who now is editor in chief of In 2007, he described Dick Armey, the former House majority leader, as “a stupid person’s idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like.” 
It’s a funny line, which applies to quite a few public figures. Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, is a prime current example. But maybe the joke’s on us. After all, such people often dominate policy discourse. And what policy makers don’t know, or worse, what they think they know that isn’t so, can definitely hurt you.
He goes on to note that even when there is a consensus among economists, those who attend to the news media may believe that the point in question is very controversial. He also cites examples in which politicians made policies based on their erroneous beliefs in the face of opposing consensus among economists -- disastrously!

This makes three points I frequently make in this blog:

  • Some of the things we think we know "just ain't so"!
  • A lot of the discussion in the media is not credible. (The "fairness" doctrine is especially problematic. If someone representing 95 percent or more of the scientific community is available as a spokesperson, it is not necessary to balance that opinion with someone representing the rest of that community.)
  • Citizens need to develop information literacy to guard their beliefs against pollution from such sources as politicians who think they know what isn't so and "balance spokespersons who represent extreme outlier views.

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