I came across this article on Ars Technica “First, Kill All The Experts” and I was reminded of the importance of language.
The gist of the article is that people distrust experts leaving us vulnerable to the dangers of global warming, privatized health care, etc. The confusion is that of scholarship vs expertise. Seemingly if you can’t run tests or repeat the same experiments over and over you’re just well versed in the theories and literature. Seemingly one would give more credence the the predictions of a structural engineer about a structure than a climatologists about the climate (or a macro-economist about the economy) .
From Arnold Kling (emphasis mine)
I am a macroeconomics skeptic. I think that my background in the subject is deep enough that my reasons for skepticism are legitimate. See, for example, my memoirs of a would-be macroeconomist.
I am a climate science skeptic, but not based on a similarly deep background. I just look at the superficial similarities with macroeconomics and infer that skepticism is warranted. It is plausible to me that the climate “consensus” is way off. However, it could be off in either direction–maybe the temperature increase will be faster and sharper than the consensus forecast.
When it comes to the differences between macro and climate science, points (1) and (2) favor climate science. However, point (3) leans against climate science. Good ideas are persuasive. If you need to excommunicate unbelievers, you are dealing in religion, not science.
Via Megan McArdle – I’m not for this, but it would solve the problem.
My lunatic proposal for the day: why not make it easier to move homeowners out of homes they can’t afford? Set up a streamlined foreclosure proceeding where a current or mildly delinquent homeowner can simply give the house to the bank and walk away. Do this with two legal provisos:
1. No tax on the forgiven loan
2. No black mark on the credit record. The bank marks the loan as fully satisfied.
Of course, if we decide to actually “fix” the problem we should loosen immigration and get people actually in the vacant houses.
Via Megan McArdle “History may not repeat itself, but it stutters like hell.”
We’re officially in a recession – and for the first time in living memory American household debt shrinks! Americans really will do the right thing once all other options have been tried!
From Marginal Revolution comes this adage
It is through exchange that difference becomes a blessing, not a curse.
On the whole, I like John Robb, his book Brave New War was thought provoking, and his upcoming book on Resilient Communities looks to be good as well.
But then posts like this one anger me to no end. He goes over current world trends in apocolyptic tones and then closes with
Except for the fanatical optimists, market mystics (the divine invisible hand), and the naive/uninformed, the debates over these trends are over.
He always mentions the broad trends with no real mention of where economics might shift the current, instead he just brushes that off with the thesis (this is what I gather from reading him anyway) that practically all of the benevolent inputs are dynamic, whereas the benevolent inputs are static.