Thursday, October 10, 2013

Krugtron parts 2 and 3

Niall Ferguson has completed his Krugtron trilogy, with Part 2 and Part 3, (Part 1 here FYI, which I blogged about earlier.)

Part 2 continues Part 1. In fact, Krugman is as human as the rest of us, and the future is hard to see. Niall compiles a long record of what Krugman actually said at the time. As before, those of us on the sharp end of Krugman's insults enjoy seeing at least his own record set straight.

But Niall admits what I said last time: we don't really learn much from anyone's prognostication
In the past few days, I have pointed out that he has no right at all to castigate me or anyone else for real or imagined mistakes of prognostication. But the fact that Paul Krugman is often wrong is not the most important thing. ..
What Niall is really mad at are the insults, the lying and slandering (I'm sorry, that's what it is and there are no polite words for impolite behavior), and the lack of scholarship -- Krugman does not read the things he castigates people for.

And it matters.

Why have I taken the trouble to do this? I have three assert the importance of humility and civility in public as well as academic discourse..
...his hero John Maynard Keynes did not go around calling his great rival Friedrich Hayek a "mendacious idiot" or a "dope".
The "Always-Wrong Club" is just the latest of many ad hominem attacks he has made on me since 2009. On one occasion he implied that I was a racist and then called me a "whiner" when I objected. On another he referred to me as a "poseur", adding for good measure that I had "choked on [my] own snark". Last year he wildly accused of making "multiple errors and misrepresentations" in article for Newsweek, only one of which he ever specified. More recently I was accused of "trying to flush [my] own past statements down the memory hole" - a characteristically crude turn of phrase - and of being "inane". Re-reading these, I can only marvel at the man's hypocrisy, for Krugman often sanctimoniously denies that he "does ad hominem" - and once had the gall to accuse Joe Scarborough of making such an attack on him when Scarborough merely quoted Krugman's own words back at him...
... Krugman has repeatedly misrepresented what I said in that debate. Immediately afterwards, he cynically claimed on his blog that I had been arguing that high deficits would crowd out private spending. Later, in order to have a straw man for his vulgar Keynesian claim that even larger deficits would have produced a faster recovery, he started to pretend that I had predicted "soaring interest rates" and had called for immediate austerity.... But anyone who reads the transcript of our debate - even the edited version that was published - can see that this was not my position.

 When Paul Krugman first began his attacks against me, he made it clear - as if almost proud of the fact - that he had read none of my books. (Quote: "I'm told that some of his straight historical work is very good.") 
Krugman's unabashed ignorance of my academic work raises the question of what, in fact, he does read, apart from posts by the other liberal bloggers who are his zealous followers. ... (When he does read a book, he mentions it in his blog as if it's a special holiday treat.)
It matters
It is "my duty, as I see it, is to make my case as best I honestly can," Krugman has written, "not [to] put on a decorous show of civilized discussion." Well, I am here to tell him that "civilized discussion" matters. It matters because vitriolic language of the sort he uses is a key part of what is wrong with America today. As an eminent economist said to me last week, people are afraid of Krugman. More "decorous" but perhaps equally intelligent academics simply elect not to enter a public sphere that he and his parasitical online pals are intent on poisoning. I agree with Raghuram Rajan, one of the few economists who authentically anticipated the financial crisis: Krugman's is "the paranoid style in economics": 
`All too often, the path to easy influence is to impugn the other side's motives and methods ... Instead of fostering public dialogue and educating the public, the public is often left in the dark. And it discourages younger, less credentialed economists from entering the public discourse.' 
The originals are full of links to documentation (a good historian's habit) which I could not reproduce here.

There is a reason the rest of the world -- especially the academic world -- abides by a simple set of ethics that include: read what you criticize, document what you say, try to understand the other side's view, respect their integrity, don't lie, don't insult, don't deliberately misquote, attack ideas if you will but not people, don't make up slanderous allegations about your opponents personal motives, and (hello, New York Times) check your facts.  And when you see someone flagrantly violating these rules, tune out.

Some interesting New York Times inside commentary.

PS: My last post on this resulted in a whole lot of nasty Ferguson's-a-crank comments, which I deleted. You may criticize Ferguson, but do so politely and factually.