- Smackdowns – corrections & rebuttals to FM posts
This page borrows a regular feature on Brad DeLong’s (Prof Economics Berkeley) website. Openness to criticism — and self-criticism — are qualities I value. These links go to my posts admitting I was wrong, and links to other sites disagreeing with my posts. Please email me with additions: fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (spam protected address).
What you see in those posts listed below are key beliefs about America shattered. The FM website has changed at least one person’s view of the world.
“When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”
— attributed to Lord Keynes
“I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right, and I was wrong.”
— Lincoln, in a letter to Major General Grant, 13 July 1863
(1) The most important smackdown:
My delusional optimism about the resilience of America’s political regime
I was wrong on the big one. Very wrong the most important subject discussed here. America’s political regime has deteriorated faster than I dreamed possible. Our liberties melt away like winter’s snow. Oldskeptic pointed that out in 2009, but I disagreed. Here are two of the posts admitting that he was right and I was wrong.
(a) Another nail put in the Constitution’s coffin, but we don’t care, 9 February 2010 — Excerpt:
In December Oldskeptic posted two prescient comments about America’s fading freedoms (here and here), which I said were exaggerated. Even nutty. I wish I was correct. Unfortunately I was wrong and he was right.
(b) Our fears are unwarranted. America is in fact well-governed., 18 August 2011 — Excerpt:
I reviewed the posts on the FM website of the past eight years, mostly cutting edge predictions. Comments show they were considered outre when written, but most look good in retrospect (picking the right experts was the key). But on the two most important subjects discussed here I was wrong.
- The fate of America’s political regime: My naive optimism now looks delusional, as the Second Republic (based on the Constitution) has sickened more quickly than in my worst nightmares.
- America’s society and economy: I have repeatedly said that American society was defective, with a broken Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action (OODA) loop. Recent events reveal that to be false, in an operational sense.
(2) Another important error: America does not have high social mobility
Again Oldskeptic corrects my mistaken view: A sad picture of America, but important for us to understand, 3 November 2008 — Oldskeptic corrects my happy but misinformed view.
This ugly graph tells a story contrary to a core American belief, immortalized in the books by Horatio Alger. Social mobility probably was high in the past, when there was a frontier and far great rates of growth. But the data shows today’s America has a low level of social mobility. I did not know this until Oldskeptic corrected me (in comments here and here).
(3) My delusional confidence about our wisdom
My most foolish predictions assumed that since it was obvious these wars were unwinnable, they would end soon:
- The Iraq War will end in 2009, 19 May 2008
- The beginning of the end to our war in Afghanistan, 13 August 2009
(4) Other corrections and admissions of error
- Forecasts for the American Expedition to Iraq, 30 November 2005 — Bush would wind down the Iraq War to avoid large Republican losses in the November 2006 elections. Wrong.
- Keeping score: how well did 4GW theory predict events in Iraq?, 21 May 2008 — My forecasts about Iraq were mostly right; but here I misjudged which horse was best.
- Correction to my previous posts – not all citizen activism is good…, 16 October 2009 — Correction to my delusional optimism about mass movements.
- Update about the state of the Af-Pak war; my forecast was wrong, 1 March 2010 — My optimism about the effect of rational debate in America proves wrong.
- The Tea Party Movement disproves my recommendation for the path to reforming America, 20 April 2010
- Another FM smack-down: chemicals are not causing earlier puberty, 22 August 2010
- Endgame for the affair Assange: a big win for the government, 27 September 2010 — Events prove (again) that the CIA can easily fool most Americans most of the time (which is good enough for them).
- This was very incorrect: R.I.P., G.O.P. – a well-deserved end, 7 November 2008 — In February 2010 I realized my error, writing Republicans have found a sure-fire path to victory in the November elections.
(5) Criticism on other websites
These are just those that I remember, or see mentioned in the FM archives.
- What Lefty Site Does Whinyus Maximus Hope Will Hire Him?, Smitty, The Other McCain, 20 April 2010 — Smitty screams because sometimes the truth hurts.
- Does Fabius Maximus Consider The Constitution A Delusion?, Smitty, The Other McCain, 26 March 2010
- The Ethical Case for War in Afghanistan (is Strong but Insufficient), Bernard Finel, 23 November 2009
- Follow and Kill Every Single Taliban, Herschel Smith, The Captain’s Journal, 26 July 2009
- Fabius Responds – Badly, Bill Quick, Daily Pundit, 19 January 2009
- Off the Mark, Bill Quick, Daily Pundit, 17 January 2009
- I wonder what forms of maneuver Fabius would not classify under surrender?, tdaxp, 18 February 2008
- Lessons Learned in Sports and War, 6 February 2008 — Differing opinions about the utility of after-battle analysis.
- Fierceness, Variations, and the utility of these concepts, tdaxp, 3 December 2007
- On Fabius Maximus’ warning concerning the Long War, Wolf Pangloss, 8 November 2007
- In search of a darwinian ratchet: the ANC, the PLO, and the RAF, tdaxp, 24 October 2007
- Rationality – Strength or Weakness?, Opposed System Design, 11 January 2007
- Fabius Maximus Offers Visions of Petro-Empires, 17 July 2006 — Only time will tell who is correct!
- Non-State Groups Have Vulnerabilities Too, Opposed System Design, 12 February 2006