Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Gerard had a sidebar item up that really made me go Hmmmm. Which is by no means a first.
Isn’t there a sense among liberals that, “We’re in the right so we don’t have to pay too much attention to conservative or Republican arguments”?
In my experience with these things – which I find both within economics and more broadly – is that if you ask a liberal or a saltwater economist, “What would somebody on the other side of this divide say here? What would their version of it be?” A liberal can do that. A liberal can talk coherently about what the conservative view is because people like me actually do listen. We don’t think it’s right, but we pay enough attention to see what the other person is trying to get at. The reverse is not true. You try to get someone who is fiercely anti-Keynesian to even explain what a Keynesian economic argument is, they can’t do it. They can’t get it remotely right. Or if you ask a conservative, “What do liberals want?” You get this bizarre stuff – for example, that liberals want everybody to ride trains, because it makes people more susceptible to collectivism. You just have to look at the realities of the way each side talks and what they know. One side of the picture is open-minded and sceptical. We have views that are different, but they’re arrived at through paying attention. The other side has dogmatic views.
Bryan Caplan (linked above) has a comment:
…[T]he beauty of the notion of the ideological Turing Test is that it’s a test. We don’t have to idly speculate about how well adherents of various ideologies understand each other. We can measure the performance of anyone inclined to boast about his superior insight.
How? Here’s just one approach. Put me and five random liberal social science Ph.D.s in a chat room. Let liberal readers ask questions for an hour, then vote on who isn’t really a liberal. Then put Krugman and five random libertarian social science Ph.D.s in a chat room. Let libertarian readers ask questions for an hour, then vote on who isn’t really a libertarian. Simple as that.
My challenge: Nail down the logistics, and I’ll happily bet money that I fool more voters than Krugman. Indeed, I’ll happily bet that any libertarian with a Ph.D. from a top-10 social science program can fool more voters than Krugman. We learn his worldview as part of the curriculum. He learns ours in his spare time – if he chooses to spare it.
I would bet money on Caplan’s side, but I think he’s over-complicated it.
Krugman has made a key error here, and it is not an uncommon one among liberals. He’s bragged about the keen insight and intellectual forensic ability among his fellow liberals, generalizing recklessly. As far as what can betray a non-liberal masquerading as a liberal, he’s offered a weak example: George Will’s article on Why Liberals Love Trains. I’ve taken pieces from it myself because it is damning and insightful.
It is George Will at his best. But it is not flattering to the progressive agenda. It is, therefore, silly and rather Krugman-like to cite this as evidence of how talented liberals are at spying counterfeits amongst themselves.
Krugman made a mistake with his phrasing, In my experience with these things. That was a blunder. It brought him down to the level of riff-raff like me, and I have experience with these things too.
If he wants me to “explain what a Keynesian economic argument is,” I can oblige him, fool him into thinking I’m a liberal hour after hour after silly hour, without getting the technical aspects of it even approximately right. All I need to do is keep my comments positive with regard to what the progressives are trying to do, and the effect it has had. Roosevelt saved us from the Great Depression, and then Reagan ruined us, Clinton saved us and then George W. Bush with those horrible awful tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent blah blah blah.
See the litmus test among liberals has nothing to do with knowledge. It has to do with faith.
You doubt me? Let Krugman apply his ideological litmus test to Peggy Joseph, the woman who thought Barack Obama was going to pay her mortgage and put gas in her car. Think she can explain Keynesian economic theory to the satisfaction of a Nobel Laureate? Not terribly likely. So when she steps in it, you think Krugman will blow the whistle on her, claiming she’s a phony liberal because she biffed some critical technical detail involved in the theory? Think he’ll call her out as a Rush Limbaugh fan in sheep’s clothing? Or will she get a pass? Three guesses, and the first two don’t count…
So if it falls to me to participate in such a test, I’ll just stay away from the knowledge and spout endlessly about my faith. Be another Peggy Joseph.
There are some things that make me hesitate. When you get to the part where an economy implodes, or explodes, or tips over like a Jenga tower, or does something disastrous because too much of the wealth is “horded” by the elites at the top, I don’t understand the mechanics of that. I can’t walk you through the steps. I cannot explain why Man A is doing just fine so long as the much wealthier Man B possesses only so much a greater share of property — but once Man B acquires a good deal more, Man A is suddenly in trouble. Can’t explain that. But I think that’s okay…I think my knowledge is deficient in a place where everybody else’s knowledge is likewise deficient. In fact, a key reason why I can’t expound on that part of it, is I’ve not seen any material I can emulate. True-and-blue liberals are always changing the subject before they get to that part of it.
So I’ll just stick to the phrase, “I don’t really know that much about this part…” and lapse back into glittering generalities. And then, just to really close the deal, every now & then I’ll act angry. “Not paying their fair share,” selfish, common good, et cetera.
Display the right emotions, you’re in. Knowledge is irrelevant. If liberals had knowledge they wouldn’t be liberals.
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