Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Because you like the story"

Sometimes I use posts as digital refrigerator magnets. A blog is an excellent place to store quotes, facts and news items you might want to use one of these days.

From Paul Krugman:

You are, of course, free to disagree. But you need to carefully explain why you disagree — what evidence do you have suggesting that these scholars’ conclusions, which are based on history and data, not just gut feelings, are wrong?


I have some views of my own, of course, but I’m not a political scientist, man — I just read political scientists and take their work very seriously. What I do bring to this kind of discussion, I hope, is an awareness of two kinds of sin that can corrupt political discussion.

The obvious sin involves actually selling one’s views. And that does happen, of course.

But what happens even more, in my experience, is an intellectual sin whose effects can be just as bad: self-indulgence. By this I mean believing things, and advocating for policies, because you like the story rather than because you have any good evidence that it’s true. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years going after this sort of thing on the right, where things like the claim that Barney Frank somehow caused the financial crisis so often prevail in the teeth of overwhelming evidence. But it can happen on the left, too — which is why, for example, I’m still very cautious about claims that inequality is bad for growth.
(Actually, I find myself in a very different situation where I like the story -- or at least agree with the conclusion -- but don't buy some of the arguments, but that's a topic for another post.)

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