Saturday, October 17, 2009

Just because he's got a Nobel Prize...

I've been reading Paul Krugman's blog for a couple of years now, but the more I read it the more skeptical I become of Professor Krugman's objectivity.

For example, on the topic of climate change he says:
We’re not talking about the ethics of sumo wrestling here; we’re talking, quite possibly, about the fate of civilization. It’s not a place to play snarky, contrarian games.
The fate of civilization? Really?

That's exactly the type of exaggerated rhetoric that makes my skeptical hackles rise.

Yes, global warming will likely disrupt the lives of millions of people around the world, and will likely cause local extinctions and permanent migrations. But saying that the "fate of civilization" is at stake makes about as much sense as neo-cons saying that terrorism is an "existential threat" to America.

It all makes perfect sense; the Right exaggerates the terrorism threat so we'll spend more money on the military (mission accomplished on that one!), and the left exaggerates the global warming threat so we'll spend more money on their favorite stuff.

Maybe Krugman doesn't even realize he is biased; in all the time I've read his blog he's certainly never even hinted that his political views might cause him to ignore opposing points of view, cherry-pick evidence or use rationalization to justify his beliefs.


Joseph said...

I would put that comment down to Krugman being so utterly frustrated at what a slap, hack job the Superfreakonomics chapter on climate change is, bringing up long dead corpses as zombies like the "global cooling" meme. Talk about exagerated rhetoric! Those Freakonomics guys take being contrary as a First Principle.

Gavin Andresen said...

The responses from the superfreaks has been mostly calm and rational (see, for example, today's post at freakanomics by Myhrvold).

There's a middle ground where reasonable debate can happen, and it looks to me like the superfreaks are in that middle ground. Sure, they might have said some stupid things, or made bad arguments, but we all say stupid things occasionally.

And questioning motives is also an illogical tactic; so what if they take being contrary as a First Principle? Their basic point might still be valid! (Just because the Nazis believed in evolution doesn't make it untrue!)