April 18, 2014

There are lies, damned lies and Paul Krugman

Via Ace comes this epic bitchslapping of Krugman. I will grant you that that is not a difficult task; my five year old could accomplish it. He wouldn't, of course, because he's very sweet unlike, say, me. Excerpt:

A person displays ideologically motivated cognition when, instead of weighing evidence based on criteria related to its connection to the truth, he or she credits or dismisses it based on its conformity to his or her ideological predispositions.

Thus, if we want to use public opinion on some issue -- say, climate change -- to assess the symmetry of ideologically motivated reasoning, we can't just say, "hey, liberals are right, so they must be better reasoners."

Rather we must determine whether "liberals" who "believe" in climate change differ from "conservatives" who "don't believe" in how impartially they weigh evidence supprotive of & contrary to their respective positions.

How might we do that?

Well, one way would be to conduct an experiment in which we manipulate the ideological motivation people with "liberal" & "conservative" values have to credit or dismiss one and the same piece of valid evidence on climate change.

If "liberals" (it makes me shudder to participate in the flattening of this term in contemporary political discourse) adjust the weight they give this evidence depending on its ideological congeniality, that would support the inference that they are assessing evidence in a politically motivated fashion.

If in aggregate, in the real world, they happen to "get the right" answer, then they aren't to be commended for the high quality of their reasoning.

Rather, they are to be congratulated for being lucky that a position they unreasoningly subscribe to happens to be true.

I highly recommend reading it, and not just because it makes Krugman look like a drooling imbecile because, hey, low bar and all. Rather, you should read it because it's excellent. Confirmation bias is something everyone should be on guard against. And one should especially be on guard against agreeing with someone simply because they have the same political likes and dislikes as you.

Update: Had to look this up so that I could put up the best bitchslapping of Paul Krugman ever. Who does the dirty work? Why, Paul Krugman himself. Excerpt:

Former Enron adviser Paul Krugman takes note in his New York Times column of what he calls "the incredible gap that has opened up between the parties":
Today, Democrats and Republicans live in different universes, both intellectually and morally.

"What Democrats believe," he says "is what textbook economics says":

But that's not how Republicans see it. Here's what Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, had to say when defending Mr. Bunning's position (although not joining his blockade): unemployment relief "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."

Krugman scoffs: "To me, that's a bizarre point of view--but then, I don't live in Mr. Kyl's universe."

What does textbook economics have to say about this question? Here is a passage from a textbook called "Macroeconomics":

Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker's incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of "Eurosclerosis," the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.

So it turns out that what Krugman calls Sen. Kyl's "bizarre point of view" is, in fact, textbook economics. The authors of that textbook are Paul Krugman and Robin Wells. Miss Wells is also known as Mrs. Paul Krugman.

Jonah Goldberg is correct: You cannot hold pre-NYT Economist Paul Krugman up to the current version. You’ll just go mad.

Posted by Physics Geek at 11:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 07, 2014

There's a new moon arising

So with Mozilla's latest decision to force out Eich for the crime of double plus ungood groupthink, I've decided to move on from Firefox to Pale Moon. However, the handy dandy migration tool doesn't work if you're currently using the portable version of Firefox, as I am. Here's how to go about manually migrating everything:

If you just want a one-shot copy, you can do it manually:


  1. On your desktop install, go to help > troubleshooting information
  2. Click the "Open folder" button under profile. This opens an explorer window in your profile.
  3. Close Pale Moon. !!IMPORTANT!!
  4. Select all files and folders (Ctrl+A) and copy (Ctrl+C)
  5. Browse your explorer to the user profile folder of Pale Moon Portable. {portable install folder}\User\Palemoon\Profiles\Default\
  6. Paste everything there (Ctrl+V)

It worked like a charm for me, moving all of my bookmarks, cookies and add-ons. Have fun stormin' the castle.

Posted by Physics Geek at 07:32 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack