Saturday, August 6, 2011

Paul Krugman should continue doing more productive things than watching TV

I think this anonymous commenter may be having a little fun here (The "I said good day" seems a bit over the top), but in case my fondness for obscure references really did go too far, let me close caption my earlier post.

Recently Paul Krugman wrote a smart piece decrying the proliferation of appeal to authority arguments which he closed with the following:

But in any case, this is never an appropriate way to argue — least of all at a time like this, when events have strongly suggested that a lot of work in economics these past few decades, very much including the work on which these guys’ reputations are based, was on the wrong track.

Do I do this myself? Probably on occasion, when I don’t catch myself. But I try not to. I would say that commenters who begin with “I can’t believe that a Nobel prize winner doesn’t understand that …” might want to think a bit harder; mostly, though not always, I have actually thought whatever you’re saying through, and the obvious fallacy you think you’ve found, isn’t. But “Me big famous economist, you nobody” is not a valid argument.

(See John Quiggin and Noah Smith for more on the incident that prompted this)

Having a weakness for snark, I immediately started looking for a silly criticism of Krugman that I could preface with the phrase “I can’t believe that a Nobel prize winner.." I got an opportunity today when Krugman referred to gibberish that sounds like Swedish. The theatrical term for this sort of thing is doubletalk and the acknowledged master of the form is Sid Caesar.

I'm also always on the lookout for excuses to bring in a favorite video clip, like this one from Whose Line Is It Anyway which provides a great example of the form and nicely shows the respect and affection the cast feel for Caesar.

Just to be absolutely clear, I was:

1. Looking for an excuse to use the "Nobel Prize winner" line in an obviously silly and trivial context;

2. Post the Caesar clip;

3. Link to yet another sharp and well-written Krugman post.

In other words, it was a joke.

(And for the record, if I make a disparaging comment about Felix Salmon followed a Kovacs clip, I'll be joking then too.)

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