Paul Krugman — Nobel Laureate economist, #5 on Prospect magazine’s 2015 list of the world’s top “thinkers” — gives us powerful advice about the climate policy debate in his August 12 NYT op-ed (similar to this from a February column).
Paul Krugman. Creative Commons license.
Here’s how I would approach the issue: by asking how we know that a modeling approach is truly useful. The answer, I’d suggest, is that we look for surprising successful predictions. General relativity got its big boost when light did, in fact, bend as predicted. The theory of a natural rate of unemployment got a big boost when the Phillips curve turned into clockwise spirals, as predicted, during the stagflation of the 1970s.
So has there been anything like that in recent years? …Were there any interesting predictions from … models that were validated by events?
In fact he is discussing his own field, macroeconomics — but this insight has deep roots in the philosophy of science and applies as well to climate science. Predictions are the gold standard for validating theories. In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) Thomas Kuhn described failed predictions that undermined dominant paradigms (e.g., the Michelson–Morley experiment) and successful predictions that helped establish new paradigms (e.g., the orbit of Mercury). He said…
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.