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Monday, June 08, 2015

Paul Krugman: Fighting the Derp

"How can you protect yourself against derpitude?":

Fighting the Derp, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: When it comes to economics — and other subjects, but I’ll focus on what I know best — we live in an age of derp and cheap cynicism. ...
What am I talking about here? “Derp” is a term borrowed from the cartoon “South Park”...: people who keep saying the same thing no matter how much evidence accumulates that it’s completely wrong. ...
And there’s a lot of derp out there. Inflation derp, in particular, has become more or less a required position among Republicans. ... And that tells you why derp abides: it’s basically political. ...
Still, doesn’t everyone do this? No... There’s also plenty of genuine, honest analysis out there — and you don’t have to be a technical expert to tell the difference.
I’ve already mentioned one telltale sign of derp: predictions that just keep being repeated no matter how wrong they’ve been in the past. Another sign is the never-changing policy prescription, like the assertion that slashing tax rates on the wealthy, which you advocate all the time, just so happens to also be the perfect response to a financial crisis nobody expected.
Yet another is a call for long-term responses to short-term events – for example, a permanent downsizing of government in response to a recession. ...
So ... how can you ... protect yourself against derpitude? The first line of defense, I’d argue, is to always be suspicious of people telling you what you want to hear.
Thus, if you’re a conservative opposed to a stronger safety net, you should be extra skeptical about claims that health reform is about to crash and burn, especially coming from people who made the same prediction last year and the year before (Obamacare derp runs almost as deep as inflation derp).
But if you’re a liberal who believes that we should reduce inequality, you should similarly be cautious about studies purporting to show that inequality is responsible for many of our economic ills, from slow growth to financial instability. Those studies might be correct — the fact is that there’s less derp on America’s left than there is on the right — but you nonetheless need to fight the temptation to let political convenience dictate your beliefs.
Fighting the derp can be hard, not least because it can upset friends who want to be reassured in their beliefs. But you should do it anyway: it’s your civic duty.

    Posted by on Monday, June 8, 2015 at 09:01 AM in Economics | Permalink  Comments (40)


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