Aside

Mocking ignornace

If I gave into my urge to cite every parallel between the experience of fighting for THR and Paul Krugman’s fights to get us out of the economics depression — against hoards of powerful and fact-averse opponents who become even more intent on doing the same thing when their policies prove to be failure — I would have no time for anything else.  Somehow (due to today’s experiences in CASAA-land which I will spare you the details of) I could not resist just one from today (source):

Look, the debate over economic policy in these terrible times is (a) hugely important (b) the subject of a large amount of hard work, both theoretical and empirical. If you want to barge into this debate expressing views based on some combination of your personal prejudices, what you think you remember about the 1970s, and what you presume must be the motives of other people, that is of course your right; but you don’t have the right to act surprised and affronted if people who have been doing their homework respond both by mocking your ignorance and by lamenting your unhelpfulness.

I guess it struck me as remarkable that you only have to change “economic” to “tobacco”.  Even the reference to what people think they remember from the 1970s carries across.

5 responses to “Mocking ignornace

  1. Carl, I appreciate your experiences may be similar even though my perception of Prof Krugman is the opposite of what you suggest.

    • Carl V Phillips

      One thing that I have learned, having spent a long time working in areas where “most people” and “Serious People” and “my tribe” (formerly) all share a position that turns out to be dead wrong, is that such phenomena are not exactly rare. We all come to many conclusions for many reasons and (for all of us) very few of those reasons are actually “looked carefully at the evidence and thought about the arguments” (and note the “we” — I am not trying to exclude myself). I guess I say this because I like to think that anyone who made the leap and came to recognize THR despite the drumbeat against it would come to see what I see elsewhere too, and this happens to be one of those cases where it appears that all of the evidence is on the same side, despite the pundits being largely on the other side. I think that people will come to agree despite knowing for sure that it is not true, if you see what I mean. All I can suggest (request?) is that you read Krugman’s book or his blog for a couple of months, and really look closely at the analysis and parse it against your current knowledge, and you might discover that your current view turns out to be similar to, say, what you believed when everyone you thought you should believe told you that smokeless tobacco is just as harmful as smoking. Or maybe not — but it is a rewarding exercise in itself to really think someone’s true position and evidence through.

  2. Carl, my view is strongly in favour of THR (I was one of the early adopters of the e-cig in 2007 and wrote the original ECCA constitution). In order to come to my position I have read this and other blogs, researched and supported this position both on and off-line.

    I have been reading “The conscience of a liberal” for quite a while as well as the comments there. I have also watched some TV interviews. For balance, it is worth reading Detlev Schlichter’s blog. The history of the French Assignat is also interesting.

    While agreeing with Krugman that the current policies have failed, this does not lead me to agree with his remedies.

    The quote, as presented. is interesting. Imagine you said those words, If you are proThr then it could appear to be an admonishment of those who are against yet, if you were antiThr, it could equally be seen as an admonishment of those in favour. This somewhat ambiguous message fits my observation of someone arguing against his critics for either being on the opposite side of the fence or on the same side not going far enough. His comment is an reflection of what things are like whichever side you are on.

    On economics, I will continue to read and listen to what Prof Krugman and others have to say. This will hopefully lead to better understandings and new thoughts either way.

    On THR my position is unchanged even after reading that Gunilla Bolinder of the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, was reported as suggesting real THR was about total abstinence from tobacco while pointing out that Greek physician Hippocrates had famously said “First do no harm”, not “Do less harm”.

    • Carl V Phillips

      Fair enough. Anyone who thinks seriously about the writings of the best proponents of opposition has my respect, regardless of any ultimate disagreement. We could definitely have an interesting conversation, but probably not in an exchange of comments here.

      I think the original quote is specific to cases where someone makes some totally unsupportable claims and then gets ripped from all sides on the most basic factual level, and then treats this as if it were unfair. Yes, someone could try to hijack the same language to criticize someone who was actually defending his position, rather than merely being defensive, but it would be a lie.

      And on the subject of hijacking, yes Bolinder (one of the long-time anti-THR liars, though probably almost unknown to those who have come to the area in the last few years) is one of several who have tried to hijack “THR” to mean abstinence, when it is clearly defined otherwise. Unfortunately, among the others who have done that is Zeller, who I had good things to say about this week — that history remains a somewhat disturbing wildcard in how things will play out at CTP.

  3. What we should all bear in mind is that the Zealots have all the money. Thus, they can shout and shout and shout. What this means is that TRUTH is not relevant – only CONTROL and continuing funding is relevant.

    It is not unusual for charlatans to ‘plug into’ remunerative monopolies, especially, as is the case in the European Union, when the monopoly is controlled by the new aristocrats. The word is CORRUPTION.

    What is lacking in Government is OBJECTIVITY. As long as Government is aligned with the aims of the Zealots, there will be no end to the corruption.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s