Summary: Paul Krugman made a remarkable admission for a political columnist in America, one that points the way to a path for the reform of America. He took a step towards seeing that there is no “reality-based party” in America.
“… first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
— Matthew 7:5.
Today both Left and Right routinely “create their own reality”. The Right invented and perfected this methodology to mobilize their followers, creating engines of disinformation such as Fox News and the Washington Times (examples here and here). The Left has copied them, making this the primary tactic for their crusades. The most obvious example is the fight against climate change, where the Left has liberated themselves from dependence on the consensus of climate scientists (as expressed through the IPCC and major climate agencies). Unusual weather (no matter if historically common) is extreme weather is climate change is anthropogenic climate change — because they say so loudly and with conviction.
“Yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.”
— Leo Tolstoy in “Three Methods Of Reform” (1900).
This acceptance of propaganda makes us a gift to our leaders. It makes us docile, weak, emotional, irrational, easily manipulated and led.
We see this clearly when it comes to the other side’s propaganda. That accomplishes nothing, and our disconnect with reality — the core break in our observation-orientation-decision-action loop — makes reform impossible. People can only fix this problem in their own community.
Which brings us to the latest from Paul Krugman – Nobel Laureate economist, hard core liberal, Democratic Party hack, and #5 on Prospect magazine’s 2015 list of the world’s top “thinkers”.
Summary: In his column today Paul Krugman makes an important observation, although he’s oddly unaware of its full significance.
Paul Krugman. Creative Commons license.
Paul Krugman explains “Why I Haven’t Felt The Bern” — He complains about Team Sanders.
“In each case the story runs into big trouble if you do a bit of homework; if not completely wrong, it needs a lot of qualification. But the all-purpose response to anyone who raises questions is that she or he is a member of the establishment, personally corrupt, etc.. Ad hominem attacks aren’t a final line of defense, they’re argument #1.
“…It’s about an attitude, the sense that righteousness excuses you from the need for hard thinking and that any questioning of the righteous is treason …When you see Sanders supporters going over the top about “corporate whores” and such, you’re not seeing a mysterious intrusion of bad behavior into an idealistic movement; you’re seeing the intolerance that was always just under the surface of the movement, right from the start.”
He complains about unfair tactics of the Left, the same tactics that the Left’s climate activists have used to all who challenge their apocalyptic news stories — which go far beyond anything in the IPCC’s reports. He describes them quite accurately, showing (again) that although he is a brilliant economist, he is lacks self-awareness.
Summary: A new presentation by Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman discusses economics. His insights apply broadly to sciences playing a key role in public policy, especially climate science. Let’s hope others learn from it.
Slide #1 from “What have we learned since 2008“, a presentation by Paul Krugman at CUNY, 19 February 2016. He is discussing economics, but these insights have powerful implications for the public policy about climate science — and the increasing number of other policy issues relying on scientific evidence.
Some annoying propositions:
- Complex econometrics never convinces anyone.
- “Complex” includes multiple regression.
- Natural experiments rule.
- But so do surprising predictions that come true.
Economics is a less-mature science than climate science, but is in some ways more developed. Their literature has superior standards for transparency (e.g., requiring archiving of methods and data). More importantly, economics has far more experience working with political decision-makers and the public. So what might be Krugman’s advice to them? We have only his slides, not his transcript; this is my interpretation of them.
“Complex econometrics never convinces anyone.
‘Complex’ includes multiple regression.”
“The criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.”
— Karl Popper in Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963).
Climate models are complex engineering code analogous to econometric models. Both have a core of hard science on which are built a web of assumptions and approximations. For climate models, their foundation is basic physics but their implementation of physical, chemical, and biological processes are tuned parameterizations.
Models are powerful research tools for scientists, but their use in major public policy debates requires higher standards of validity. Non-scientists have a century of experience evaluating the utility of scientists’ findings on matters where the costs and stakes are high. Our hard-won skepticism about such theories requires observational proof, not just abstruse calculations. For more about the policy use of models see…