Analistas

Yes, you can change your mind

It’s really quite sad. Mr. Kinsley is a very smart guy, who also happens to have given me my big break in journalism back in 1996 by hiring me to write for Slate when he was editor. But now, as a commentator, he’s a prisoner of “derp.”

I’ve seen this phenomenon a number of times, mainly in economics, but also in other fields like climate science. Somebody with a reputation for cleverness looks at, say, macroeconomics, and imagines himself to be smart enough to weigh in – while not realizing that this is a technical discipline, and that he has no idea what he’s talking about. And for whatever reason, he chooses the wrong side of the argument.

I think Mr. Kinsley was, more than anything else, motivated by that New Republic/Slate “counterintuitive” style: “Bernanke and Krugman may act like experts, but I’ll show my cleverness by taking the opposite position.” For someone like the financial analyst Cliff Asness, the motivation was more likely affinity fraud: The inflationistas sounded like his sort of people, and he didn’t realize that they were peddling derp.

So what do you do when it becomes clear that you did, indeed, pick the wrong side? You could admit that you were wrong and revise your worldview, as Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, did. But such humility is very rare. 

The great majority of people who find themselves having made an indefensible argument respond as Mr. Kinsley has, by doubling down and trying to defend the indefensible – and by getting angrier and angrier at the people who warned them that they were getting it wrong.

Sad.

Jeb Goes Galt

This, from Think Progress, is amazing: “ ‘I think the left wants slow growth because that means people are more dependent upon government,’ [Jeb] Bush told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo.”

Remember, Mr. Bush is the Republicans’ establishment candidate for the presidential nomination – and he thinks he’s living in “Atlas Shrugged.”