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September 21, 2016


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"In a post-truth world of asymmetric Bayesianism..."

Good grief! Economists... If that is a valid Bayesian probability theoretic argument it's very heavily disguised. Nevertheless, it is true that "whether D does or does not support S depends on our prior information. The same D that supports S for one person may refute it for another": http://www-biba.inrialpes.fr/Jaynes/cc05e.pdf


"One of the most deplorable trends of our time is the rise of narcissistic loudmouths and the media’s encouragement of them. Such people should be told: shut up you ignorant lout."

Like Richard Murphy.


a “worthy interlocutor in a way that values his opinion”

Matthew Bishop said that? Matthew Bishop? Love the irony.


Different Matthew Bishop. Matthew L. Bishop is not the Economist business editor Matthew Bishop.

Vic Twente

Your first two paragraphs kinda echo Krugman's advice, which he repeats weekly, that before you get into an argument, make sure the other guy is actually trying to participate in an argument, or else you're just wasting your time.

I've found, btw, that some (not all) of what might be termed "blowhards" are actually well-meaning people who are only spouting utter nonsense in order to mark their tribal identity and encourage others to join them.

When you get nice people to realize the human-cost result of their words, they tend to moderate their opinions. That's the positive-existentialist (e.g. Gabriel Marcel) way of dealing with these people, anyway.

As for people spouting utter nonsense who AREN'T well-meaning, often you can still shut them up by demonstrating in front of an audience that they're utterly ignorant on the topic. It works better with anti-Keynesian professors in undergrad; it works less so with people who are allowed to dodge points and obfuscate, like participants in libertarian discussion threads. But generally, blowhards who want to feign competence can only do so in the absence of truly competent people.


Aren't overconfidence and the Dunning-Kruger effect the same thing in this case?

From Arse To Elbow

Tidegate is an example of the reverse halo effect: we gleefully pounce on Carswell's ignorance to justify our belief that he is a fool on other subjects too.

The original point by Paul Nightingale to which Carswell was responding (i.e. gravity theory of trade - distance matters as well as size) has been rather lost in the fun.

PS: The "Milanovic's elephant" hyperlink in your top blogging list is missing.

B.L. Zebub

I cannot help but noticing what -- to me at least -- seems like a rather ironic contradiction between your aggressive militancy in this post and your own attitude, rather mild, towards those who advance bad arguments against Marxism.

I've never heard you shouting to those "narcissistic loudmouths": "shut up you ignorant lout".


the "post truth" debate arose out of the Brexit debate and there apparent refusal to listen to economists saying leaving would be very bad.

there are two issues here. One is specifically that the referendum was not a referendum on which option would deliver the best economic policy. For many people (myself included) it was primarily about how we are governed and how we as a nation best meet the challenges of engaging with other nations. Many economists spoke as if their viewpoint was the only one that mattered and as if the concerns many people had were somehow not valid ones.

The second issue is that experts in the field of complex systems massively over-estimate their ability to predict the future. I would draw a parallel with climate science. An ability to explain how we got here does not equate to an ability to predict the future as the frequent incorrect predictions of imminent climate disaster illustrate.

I am an expert. I predict that the future will probably be slightly better, possibly very much better, and possibly worse. Whatever happens I will say "I said this might happen. I was right."


and whilst we are all laughing at Carswell, a quick question. If the influence of the moon on tides has a value of 1 unit, what is the value of the sun's influence on tides?

Its easy to see by googling, but just wondering if folks have a view.


I'm glad to see that you carefully separated "economics" from "science".

But surely the main argument against John Stuart Mill's happ belief that “wrong opinions and practices gradually yield to fact and argument” is the continuing devotion to religion.


so, just to answer my own question, its 0.44, which i thought was quite high.

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