reality (still) can’t be deduced

Here’s a post from the excellent blog Naked Capitalism that, in the process of making an argument about the history of money and barter, speaks to an issue that’s close to my heart. For context, the post’s author David Graeber is disputing an assertion made by some 19th century Austrian economists about how currency developed.

a. Just in way of emphasis: economists thus predicted that all (100%) non-monetary economies would be barter economies. Empirical observation has revealed that the actual number of observable cases—out of thousands studied—is 0%.

b. Similarly, the number of documented marketplaces where people regularly appear to swap goods directly without any reference to a money of account is also zero. If any sociological prediction has ever been empirically refuted, this is it.

Now I’m not educated on the issues of that post, so I can’t say that these predictions were even examples of bad deduction. But I want to point out that deductions don’t even need to be poorly executed or particularly misguided to end up incorrect. Reality is unpredictable, and for this reason, it has to be understood with empiricism. Not everything is immediately or perfectly accessible to empirical investigation, of course, and deduction is inevitable and necessary. But deduction is usually the beginning of inquiry and is never the end.

Why am I bringing this up? Because it seems to me that, even as blogging is aging and there are more and more professional bloggers, the profession seems content with offering up plausible sounding conjecture and treating it as truth. I can’t tell you how many times a day I read some blogger, from wherever on the ideological spectrum, who deduces some point (even an intriguing or plausible one) and then acts as though this constitutes evidence. You’ve got to check the real world! Life cannot be understood from the vantage of a MacBook.

I suppose I’m close to this kind of thinking these days because I am reading so much pedagogical research in my real life and so often what is expected in teaching and education is defied by empirical research. Dogs just don’t bark, often, in education research. Complexity multiplies beyond the scope of conjecture. Patterns that seem obvious devolve into static.

I guess I just wish that the blogosphere (and forgive the collective indictment) at least demonstrated interest in the question, “how are we making knowledge?” Taken as a whole, I don’t think that there’s a coherent epistemology of blogging out there, even in the most elementary or general sense. For all of the navel-gazing that bloggers undertake, they appear uninterested in the fundamental questions of what value blogs are creating and what systems of accountability there are for ensuring that truth claims are actually true.






90 replies
  1. 1
    MikeJake says:

    Isn’t the primary purpose of blogging the venting of spleens?

  2. 2
    Freddie deBoer says:

    True!

  3. 3
    different church-lady says:

    Because it seems to me that, even as blogging is aging and there are more and more professional bloggers, the profession seems content with offering up plausible sounding conjecture and treating it as truth.

    A most excellent observation!

    One possible (and cynical) explanation is that unlike scientists or researchers, many bloggers are not actually interested in discovering the truth. Instead, they are interested in convincing others that what they believe — and only what they believe — is the truth.

    In other words: science and propaganda are not the same things.

  4. 4
    lethargytartare says:

    your argument would be more compelling if you had presented even a single example to support your thesis.

    C-

  5. 5
    Freddie deBoer says:

    @lethargytartare: Catching on?

  6. 6
    Morzer says:

    Doesn’t your whole approach beg the question of what knowledge actually is? If the blogosphere points out that they are operating with an understanding of knowledge as something like justified/justifiable belief, they might argue that they are producing knowledge, on the basis of a valid deduction. Equally, it would be possible to turn around and argue that your requirement for knowledge is too strong and such a thing cannot be produced in the blogosphere. What exactly are you taking to be “knowledge”?

  7. 7
    dekster says:

    I think you should look up “deduction.” (You probably mean “induction” or “abduction.”)

  8. 8
    PeakVT says:

    There’s a wide span of activity that takes place under the label “blogging” but the biggest subcategory (which includes BJ) is essentially short-form opinion writing. One shouldn’t expect much in the way of heavily documented output from that group.

  9. 9
    MariedeGournay says:

    Thank you for linking that article. Really fascinating.
    Edit: Now I really want to read about this culture where exchange was based upon guessing dreams. :D

  10. 10
    lethargytartare says:

    @Freddie deBoer:

    my cat gives me a “I meant to do that” look when he misses the kitchen counter on his first jump too.

  11. 11
    jl says:

    That was an interesting article. But its not just Austrian economists, the barter story is the standard story of money told by neoclassical economists too, and I think the story started with Adam Smith.

    Economics is an artificially created reality. Kind of like a dreary holodeck where everyone is crabby and cynical, even while maximizing welfare all the time. The inhabitants get very very upset if some one suggests that it might not be totally real. Maybe its even a Matrix.

    I was surprized that anyone, even an Austrian economist would take objection to the research and the conclusions.

    I remember a seminar where an well known economists provided evidence that the feudal European village economy was very efficient in many ways, with insurance policies and risk spreading, and versions of venture capital, even without free markets as we view them today. Most found the presentation interesting. But a few fanatics vented a kind of outrage at what this guy was doing.

  12. 12
    Morzer says:

    deduction is usually the beginning of inquiry

    You can’t really begin the process with deduction. You need some premises to work with, or facts if you want to reason empirically from data.

  13. 13
    jl says:

    @lethargytartare: I dunno, I kind of preferred the society where you were forced to participate in a sex orgy to participate in free trade.

    Devolution is real, and we, poor we, are the sad devolved losers who missed out on all the fun.

    Probably a Devo song about it.

  14. 14
    Aristotle says:

    Of course a heavier object will fall faster than a lighter object. That’s just science.

  15. 15
    Morzer says:

    @jl:

    But its not just Austrian economists, the barter story is the standard story of money told by neoclassical economists too, and I think the story started with Adam Smith.

    I think Graeber actually says this in the book, of which the article is basically a chapter. If I recall rightly, Adam Smith created an entirely fictional account of barter in aboriginal North America.

  16. 16
    Mark Down says:

    I think the formula you are seeking is (confirmation bias)^(number of successful past predictions).

  17. 17
    Bill D. says:

    @dekster: correct. Deduction does *not* mean arriving at a general principle from particular examples.

  18. 18
    Chris says:

    I can’t tell you how many times a day I read some blogger, from wherever on the ideological spectrum, who deduces some point (even an intriguing or plausible one) and then acts as though this constitutes evidence. You’ve got to check the real world! Life cannot be understood from the vantage of a MacBook.

    That’s where the term “Pajamas Media” originally came from – a quote from a retired news executive who said “You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances at 60 Minutes and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas.”

    Naturally, Roger Simon and all the rest took that as a how-to manual rather than a criticism, and created a big an popular blog dedicated to the superior vantage of the MacBook.

  19. 19
    lethargytartare says:

    @jl:

    Probably a Devo song about it.

    Jocko Homo?

  20. 20
    jl says:

    @Morzer:

    To be fair to economists, it was a theme back in England back then. I think. Hobbes had a ahistorical view of individualistic savages. Not sure whether Hobbes was consciously telling a fable or using a metaphor, or thought he was telling real history, as Smith seemed to think.

    And there was a lot of misunderstanding among whites about their dealings with Native Americans, and what the spposed trades and sales and agreements meant from the other side’s point of view.

  21. 21
    Mark Down says:

    @different church-lady:

    In other words: science and propaganda are not the same things.

    I take it you haven’t been following the Republican debates…

  22. 22
    mclaren says:

    …The profession seems content with offering up plausible sounding conjecture and treating it as truth.

    Unfortunately, this describes essentially all the non-hard-science professions.

    Medicine? Doctors prefer to believe in treatments that don’t work, ignoring mountains of evidence to the contrary.

    Economics? Economists persist in believing in long-debunked theories in favor of more appealing “just so” stories.

    Sociology? Psychology? Criminology?

    Same deal. Classic example: police fixate on some plausible-sounding theory of the crime and ignore all evidence that their preferred suspect is innocent…until, after spending 30 years in prison, the innocent schmuck finally gets exonerated by DNA testing.

    Arson investigators? K-12 teachers? University chancellors? Management consultants? Human resources directors?

    All the same. They believe in plausible-sounding fairytales and ignore well-documented research that reaches unintuitive conclusions at odds with their pet belief system.

    In other countries, like Japan, where giant companies hire people based on their blood type (and an elaborate personality theory that goes along with that belief system), Americans readily realize how crazy that behavior is. But here in America, when HR managers make hiring decisions based on goofy fantasies like the Briggs-Myers personality test (which was invented by a mother-daughter team with zero credentials and no education, and based on no science and no research other than some unsupported musings by Carl Jung) or the IQ test (which systematically excluded from inventor Terman’s group of “future superachievers” two future Nobel laureates) or the GPA (“Among the most pernicious aspects of the meritocracy as we now understand it in the United States is the equation of merit with test-taking success, and the corresponding belief that those who struggle in the classroom should expect to achieve little outside it” — “Can the middle class be saved?” Don Peck, The Atlantic magazine, September 2011, pg. 72)… Why, suddenly, OUR plausible-sounding but totally unsupported beliefs can’t be questioned.

    When it comes to American crazy beliefs, we’re wise. We’re rational. Police use polygraphs to base their decisions on (despite the hard cold fact that the National Academy of Sciences showed with double-blind tests that the polygraph has no more reliability than a coin flip) because we Americans are hard-headed and rational and logical. It’s those other people, those yellow slanty-eyed Asians who belief in crazy crap like feng shui and blood type personality theories and acupuncture. Americans would NEVER believe in ANYTHING like that.

    No, no, no, no, no, when we Americans recite long-debunked plausible-sounding but disproven horseshit like “we need to cut government deficits to increase confidence by the business community,” that’s not irrational, like the asians who believe in feng shui, no, no, no, no, we’re showing our hardheaded sensible skeptism by believing in plausible-sounding horseshit that has long since been proven false.

    But think about the state of debate in America right now, with leading Republicans denouncing “fiat money”, and distinguished economists insisting that a slump that is obviously, obviously, a case of Fisherian debt deflation is instead the product of market fear of the socialist tendencies of a very centrist president.

    Next up: resurrecting the phlogiston theory of fire.

    “Forsaken Fisher,” Paul Krugman, New York Times, 12 September 2011, op. cit.

  23. 23
    pete says:

    @Morzer:

    Adam Smith created an entirely fictional account

    Heresy! Off to the dunking pond with you.

    Economics has always been about creating simplified models. Unfortunately, many economists fall into the trap of seeing reality as falling short of the models rather than vice versa.

    I have an example: Back in the late 1960s they tried to teach me that rising inflation could not occur at the same time as rising unemployment. I did not understand why, and was cowed into blaming my own intellectual shortcomings. Within five years of my graduating, the term “stagflation” had been coined. Previous theories were inoperative, or at least tweaked. Unfortunately, as Krugman keeps pointing out, some lessons never do get learned.

  24. 24
    Martin says:

    Life cannot be understood from the vantage of a MacBook.

    What about a MacBook Pro?

  25. 25
    jl says:

    @lethargytartare:

    Thanks, i think it fits.

    DEVO – Jocko Homo (music Video)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCpxSzacbyc

    Isn’t there one with a bunch of Devo babies in jump suits doing synchronized obsessive compusive mass consumption activities around a table? Or is that an Aerosmith song?

  26. 26
    Morzer says:

    @jl:

    I suspect that the idea that barter economy precedes money economy actually goes back much further in European thought, given that one of the tropes of the Golden Age in Classical literature is that there are no money transactions,no merchants, no ships (and no wars). Not that it matters for Graeber’s argument.

  27. 27
    agorabum says:

    Depends on who you read. I’ve found plenty of blogs that offer interesting graphs and/or pics that add to the commentary and expand knowledge. I’ve always found this graph to be worthwhile.
    Also, I learned about the barter issue from blogs (which took me to reporting on the actual info). But there are still blogger/reports and blogger/analysts that do more than argue, troll, or post animal pics. Not that there is anything wrong with that in moderation.
    Oh, links are good.

  28. 28
    soonergrunt says:

    Breaking news from MSNBC:
    REPUBLICAN TAKES WEINER’S HOUSE SEAT

    In an upset considered a referendum on President Obama’s policies, political novice Bob Turner defeats Democrat David Welprin in a special election.

    So it’s pretty much like John called it earlier.

  29. 29
    chrismealy says:

    Austrians are 100% cranks. Seriously, google “praxeology” if you don’t believe me. They’re just reactionaries.

  30. 30
    Uriel says:

    @dekster: No, I think deduction works here if what he’s describing is the (admittedly mis-) characterization that many in the bloging world attribute to the logical inevitablity of the arguments they present. Just think of the often repeated argument that 1) all democrats are communists and hate America 2) Obama is a Democrat, therefore, 3) Obama is a communist and hates America. Sure, the premises are crazy making, but the conclusion flows logically from the assumed premisies.

  31. 31
    Martin says:

    @soonergrunt:

    In an upset considered a referendum on President Obama’s policies, political novice Bob Turner defeats Democrat David Welprin in a special election.

    Only the villagers can conclude that 4,000 people is considered a referendum in a nation of 300,000,000. Next Wed I’m going to speak to an audience of 4,000. I’m not sure what that’s a referendum on, but I’ll take it as my awesomness, or maybe how terrible daytime TV is.

  32. 32
    Uriel says:

    @jl: I have to admit that I’ve always assumed that Hobbes was operating from the realm of metophore and abstraction, if only because I like to think he was a serious thinker and not a cuckoo for cocoa puffs type guy. But I could be wrong anout that.

  33. 33
    Uriel says:

    @jl: I have to admit that I’ve always assumed that Hobbes was operating from the realm of metophore and abstraction, if only because I like to think he was a serious thinker and not a cuckoo for cocoa puffs type guy. But I could be wrong anout that.

  34. 34
    Kane says:

    I remember in the early dog days of blogs, many conversations were focused on what the future of blogging would become. There was somewhat of a consensus that the mainstream media (which was in large measure snickering and mocking blogs as a fad) would eventually catch on to the blog-possibilities and financial potential.

    Many of the professional bloggers of today are those very media-types who once looked down upon all-things-Internet. Now they have their own blogs, facebook pages and twitter feeds, and they act as if they invented it all. Offering up plausible sounding conjecture and treating it as truth is what they do.

  35. 35
    Martin says:

    “50 million in U.S. lack health insurance”
    “U.S. poverty totals hit a 50-year high”

    American exceptionalism! Someone give Jamie Dimon a tax cut before this gets any worse!

  36. 36
    Ripley says:

    Nothing to add, but an interesting discussion. And aside from Martin’s win MacBook Pro ref, a snark-proof discussion.

    Too bad about NY. The bulk of New Yorkers can be counted on to put their votes where they think the money is. Points for consistency.

  37. 37
    dirge says:

    how are we making knowledge?

    Short answer? With the tools at hand of course.

    So, I think what you really mean to ask is, do we need better tools? What would those tools look like?

    The tool we have to hand is a blog with a comments section to keep it honest. Graeber, it would seem, also makes use of journals with peer review to keep him honest, and publishing with editors to keep him honest, and university research with a tenure committee to keep him honest, and the occasional very impressive blog post of course. There are plenty of other tools, like wikis, parliamentary systems, union elections, opinion pages and twitter.

    I’m not trying to draw equivalences here; quite the opposite. Different tools are useful for making different sorts of knowledge. It seems that twitter is useful for drawing attention to new interests, that blogs are useful for debating timely controversies, that wikis are useful for recording settled facts. Many more traditional technologies can be understood the same way: parliaments and corporate governance are good for selecting and implementing policy, peer reviewed journals are good for empirical research, pubs are good for starting revolutions.

    It’s possible to do empirical research, manage projects or order pizza on a blog, but then it’s also possible to drive a nail with a screwdriver.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that this epistemological problem isn’t just a cultural one. It’s not just a question of problematic blogger personalities failing to get on board with the knowledge creation project. Your posts are largely immutable and ordered by date descending, comments are strictly subsidiary to posts. Those simple facts drastically structures the kind of conversations you’re going to have on a blog, and the kind of projects you can undertake with any likelihood of success.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. The blog is just a tool. We can make others.

    How should it work?

    Seriously, if I see any good ideas here, I might just go build the damned thing.

    ( Yes, that’s a bleg. I’m aware that blogs are no good for gathering technical requirements either. )

  38. 38
    Draylon Hogg says:

    One of the first things I learned in economics was that barter relies on a double coincidence of wants. So if I make a pair of shoes I might agree to swap them with you in exchange for one of your chickens. But if you offer me a blog post on the merits of Mitt Romney for my shoes then I may not be so keen to engage you in a barter transaction. The developmemt of currency frees you from that because goods and services can be ascribed a value.

    Countless economic models also rely on the assumption Ceteres Parebus (all other things remain equal) to make them function. As variables in reality are in a state of constant flux without this assumption the models are too complex to be of any use.

  39. 39
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    I do know the field and I highly recommend picking up one or more of Graeber’s books – he’s one of the few academics I know who is both brilliant and an excellent writer. I don’t agree with all his arguments but ‘Towards an anthropology of value’ is a stunning short book and the bits I’ve seen of ‘Debt’ so far are fascinating.

  40. 40

    @Martin:

    While I would not consider it to be a referendum on the president (that will be held in November 2012), I do consider it another example of the bumbling incompetence of the DNC and the DCCC. Same with Coakely losing to Brown. If the national party doesn’t think these things are important enough to get involved with early and aggressively, then I don’t know what we have them for. I mean, there are people working at these organizations and they are getting paid. What exactly are they being paid to do?

    If I were a Republican, I would feel the same way about their debacle in NY-26.

  41. 41
    Jenny says:

    @soonergrunt: and yet in today’s PPP poll, black jimmy carter has a 11 pt lead over Parry.

  42. 42

    I’m very sympathetic to your overall point– that we have to engage with data, not a priori theories of how things work. That’s especially true with economics, which is, at the end of the day, a behavioral science.

    I’m less sure about your criticism of “blogging” generally. Different blogs do different things. Not everyone wants or needs to grapple with the “what is truth” question.

    For my part, I like to post a lot of charts. Here’s a post that rattles around the internet every now and then, on our economic and debt problems.

  43. 43
    cleek says:

    @lethargytartare:
    the post immediately below this seems like a fantastic example.

    there, we have 200+ people each concluding that his/her amateur psychoanalysis of a guy they know somewhere is probably applicable to an population of people who, except for a job title, they know nothing about.

  44. 44

    deadspin is reporting, that the national inquirer is reporting, that mcginniss’ book will include a quote from glen rice about a one night stand he had with sarah palin.

    you may now return to your previous program.

  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
    evap says:

    An engineer, a physicist, and an economist are stranded on a dessert island with a can of beans, a rock, and nothing else. The engineer picks up the rock and begins bashing the can, nothing happens, and the engineer eventually gives up. The physicist picks up the rock, looks at the can, takes some measurements, does some calculation in the sand, and then announces that there is no way they are going to get the can open. The economist says, “let me try”, picks up the can, picks up the rock, stares at them for a while, does some calculation in the sand… finally after an hour or so, the economist looks up excitedly and says, “I’ve got it!… Assume we have a can opener”

  48. 48
    gelfling545 says:

    @mclaren: Just would like to say that K-12 teachers in general have a pretty good idea of what works as opposed to theory or, at the very least, that the theory being pushed doesn’t work. They get empirical evidence in their faces daily. It is largely their overlords who cling to a theory & insist that the classroom teachers make the impossible (or ridiculous) work because this is our philosophy/policy, damn it, handed down to us by people who haven’t stood in front of a classroom in years, if ever and may never see a kid who isn’t related to them again. The biggest fault of classroom teachers as a group vis a vis empirical reality is that when they are handed this nonsense tend to say “yes, sir” instead of “Are you nuts?”

  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @gelfling545: I think this is true in many professions.

  50. 50
  51. 51
    birthmarker says:

    fundamental questions of what value blogs are creating and what systems of accountability there are for ensuring that truth claims are actually true.

    This is as good a place as any to mention how much I hate that newpapers are dying out. I recently had reason to search microfilm of the Birmingham (Alabama) News from the 60s, and the info on the civil rights movement fights there offers a unique perspective. How will that be replaced by the internet?

    Just the fact that frequently it is difficult to determine dates on the internet is really a negative for future historians.

  52. 52
    Bob says:

    Haven’t we seen this offering of speculation as truth, like forever. I’m thinking god speak – myth, religion. (That’s my speculation.)

  53. 53
    Ken B. says:

    Freddie – This is a good post, it is sometimes easy to be seduced by a well written, tightly argued, completely bullshit blog post.

    Related this morning; Noahpinon wrote a good one: Sean Carroll on social science vs. natural science

    Also, Bush’s Useful Idiots. The Liberal Hawks of 2001 And The Testosterone Defense.

  54. 54
    crack says:

    Contrast that with the Sabrmetric community at fangraphs and tango’s site. There they actually do stat analysis and don’t stop at conjecture.

  55. 55

    I’ve read some comments/essays online that developed some really interesting hypotheses. If we could test out these theories and modify as necessary we might expand our knowledge of a number of things.

    It’s the testing-analyzing-modifying-retesting-etc part of the scientific method that we are falling down on.

  56. 56
    Samara Morgan says:

    /yawn

    Julian has the blogverse pegged.

    Moderator: The question has to do with the shift, alleged shift at Wikileaks from simply posting the material, having it crowdsourced, and people interpreting it, to actually interpreting what it means. Is that a change?
    __
    Julian Assange: No. That’s part of the right-wing reality distortion field (some laughs in audience). Mother Jones has had some changes in the past few years.
    __
    No, there hasn’t been a change, whatsoever. Although of course it was our hope that, initially, that because we had vastly more material than we could possibly go through, if we just put it out there, people would summarize it themselves. That very interestingly didn’t happen. Quite an extraordinary thing.
    __
    Our initial idea — which never got implemented — our initial idea was that, look at all those people editing Wikipedia. Look at all the junk that they’re working on. Surely, if you give them a fresh classified document about the human rights atrocities in Falluja, that the rest of the world has not seen before, that, you know, that’s a secret document, surely all those people that are busy working on articles about history and mathematics and so on, and all those bloggers that are busy pontificating about the abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan and other countries and other human rights disasters, who are complaining that they can only respond to the NY Times, because they don’t have sources of their own, surely those people will step forward, given fresh source material and do something.
    __
    No. It’s all bullshit. It’s ALL bullshit. In fact, people write about things, in general (if it’s not part of their career) because they want to display their values to their peers, who are already in the same group. Actually, they don’t give a fuck about the material. That’s the reality.

    Balloon Juice is a lefthand variant of the FOXnews community distortion field.
    …commenters and posters fluffing their ideological plummage for their in-group cohort.
    No one gives a fuck about the material, especially not freddie.
    He’s just in it for the pageclicks.

  57. 57
    THE says:

    SM I left a new response for you, to one of your comments on yesterday’s thread.

    It is an old thread, so you might not notice it if I don’t bring it to your attention.

  58. 58
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Martin:

    What about a MacBook Pro?

    Forget it Martin, we’re dealing with MacBook Airheads.

  59. 59

    Thank you for linking to the David Graeber article. That was a great read.

  60. 60
    flamingRedDingo says:

    To the people so intent on bashing Adam Smith. (many ill informed lefies).. you know who you are…

    As well as the people that lay false intellectual claims about the dynamics of the free market at Adam Smith’s feet (glibertarians).. you know who you are as well…

    plz to read The Theory Of Moral Sentiments.

    kthxbai

  61. 61
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @Samara Morgan: arguably, by adding your comment to the discussion, you are doing the very same thing.

    Your post is only here to provide you with a venue to grandstand.

  62. 62
    different church-lady says:

    @dirge: That’s some good stuff there. But unfortunately I think you’ve missed the true core of the inquiry:

    [bloggers] appear uninterested in the fundamental questions of what value blogs are creating…

    The tools we have are good and bad. There’s opportunity to improve them. But the real question is, “Why the disinterest in even using the tools for that purpose in the first place?”

    As I said in my earlier comment, too many bloggers are not interested in discovering or refining ‘the truth’. They are instead solely interested in defining their beliefs and biases as truth. Better tools will help those with honest intent, but will not answer the question of what to do about those with dishonest intent.

  63. 63
    flamingRedDingo says:

    @different church-lady: Ahhh… but it’s all fixable!

    in HTML we have the humble yet powerful A tag =)
    in HTML5 we have a citation tag even.

    Citing works… of course, people need to understand the difference between an argument and a appeal to false authority, but whatever.

    I say roll on blogs.. roll on. The noise to signal ratio is pretty high, but that’s life. It’s not really any different with the more traditional bastions of our 4th estate nowadays.

    Consumers of information need to be more savvy… I think the internet over the long-haul will help foster this, in the end… but the dynamics of too much information will take it’s toll in the short-term…

    I don’t think the bloggers are to blame for this – even the ones I think are acting in bad faith (well okay, they are to blame, but there will ALWAYS be bad actors in any arena)

  64. 64
    4jkb4ia says:

    Freddie, I know you hate TNC’s comment section and with reason, but he has given the best answer here. Why am I in blogtopia at all? It can’t be to hopelessly desire John Cole, that’s morally wrong. It is to get out of the smugness and insularity of the MSM and the kneejerk Republicans I know and to try to be around people who are thinking and learning something about something. If you say that what you are doing is provisional, and a journey that will be confirmed by later things that aren’t available or you didn’t read yet, but seeing what you and others say and knowing what you think now–and inviting others to think– is part of that journey, that is worth a lot of respect. What often then happens is that people value the community more than the thinking. That is a hard problem to solve.

    Also too, there is GWB’s “We won’t know. We’ll all be dead.” Never mind that he was mocked for it and didn’t care to know the things he should have known. If blogging is a kind of journalism then it has the knowledge problems that journalism has.

  65. 65
    different church-lady says:

    @flamingRedDingo:

    Citing works… of course, people need to understand the difference between an argument and a appeal to false authority, but whatever.

    I say we just automatically make every post and comment cite the Wikipedia List of Logical Fallacies.

    I don’t think the bloggers are to blame for this – even the ones I think are acting in bad faith (well okay, they are to blame, but there will ALWAYS be bad actors in any arena)

    Which, I now realize, gets us even closer to the heart of the lament of Freddie’s last paragraph, which could be surmised as, “I believe in truth and logic. Why do so many people around me seem to not care about it at all?”

    It’s understandable. It’s accurate. It’s timeless. And it may be unanswerable.

  66. 66
    4jkb4ia says:

    And it is much easier to make knowledge claims if you are working with books and documents that have historical claims rather than the kinds of things economists work with. The documents are your warrant for your beliefs. Not so much the amateur psychoanalysis.

  67. 67
    MattR says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    whining about grade inflation destroying the “value” of a four year lib arts degree in the job market.

    Too bad the post you reference is Freddie questioning somebody else’s whine about grade inflation. Go back to being a Republican. Your ability to twist the meaning of things to fit your pretermined world view fits perfectly with them.

  68. 68
    Samara Morgan says:

    @MattR: no, freddie isnt questioning.
    he is mainstreaming an Atlantic post at Balloonjuice about lib arts grads being unable to find jobs, which seems to contradict his post about four year college degrees being unimpeachable employment magnets.

    So here’s Liz Dwyer, education editor and blogger at Good.is, asserting that “Recent college grads still looking for full-time employment—or faced with the prospect of moving back home to live with mom and dad—are probably cursing their English and philosophy degrees.”
    __
    Totally. I mean, those fruity humanities degrees are probably worthless, right?
    __
    No! It’s not true! It’s just not true. If you actually bother to check the facts—if you aren’t just intuiting the world but instead check the facts—you’ll find that English and philosophy majors, like most people with bachelors degrees, are doing quite well. They are employed at far higher rates than the general public and earn far more than the general public. Dissatisfied grads are entitled to curse the world for failing to provide them everything they dreamed, but the facts tell us that as a group they are, in any reasonable context, in good shape.

    freddie is just here for the pageclicks.
    just like Kain was.

  69. 69
    Samara Morgan says:

    @4jkb4ia: freddie is HERE at BJ for the pageclicks.
    just like Kain was.
    TNC’s commenters see through freddie like open window.
    the juicitariat is not…umm…..quite as bright i guess.
    :)

  70. 70
    MattR says:

    @Samara Morgan: Umm, not that one. The other post you linked about grade inflation. There is a reason I quoted your comment so that you would know which one I was talking about.

    EDIT: To refresh your memory, you claim that he wrote a post “whining about grade inflation destroying the “value” of a four year lib arts degree in the job market.”

  71. 71
    Samara Morgan says:

    @MattR: i LINKED both posts, to show freddie was contradicting himself… you retard.

    you were a big supporter of Erik “Beyond Unions” Kain as i recall.
    wasn’t getting rolled like a cheap drunk once enough for you?

  72. 72
    MattR says:

    @Samara Morgan: Yet you did not accurately describe his post. Freddie never wrote a post “whining about grade inflation destroying the “value” of a four year lib arts degree in the job market.” as you stated and linked to. Even if that post did contradict a previous one, your comment misrepresented what it stated.

  73. 73
    4jkb4ia says:

    I have seen Freddie interact with the TNC commenters exactly once. TNC said, “You hate the comments section. Why are you here?” and got a standing ovation of likes. But Erik Vanderhoff didn’t seem to know him.
    When the TNC people talk about politics they are no smarter than the people here and have fewer great lines. So I suspect the conflict is about ideology.

    I don’t know why Freddie is here. The simple answer would be, “Because John asked him”. Freddie has enough people who know him, like Sully, that he can get attention without being here. I would also think that if he didn’t like the commenters he wouldn’t be here at all.

  74. 74
    MattR says:

    @Samara Morgan: Also, there is no actual contradiction since the second Freddie post links to the same “Outside the Beltway” post to argue that liberal arts grads are not suffering at a higher rate that he also linked in his first BJ post you linked. He calls the author of the Atlantic piece a whiny baby who is not taking any responsibility for himself (and is using false beliefs to justify that lack of responsibility), yet you consider that to be mainstreaming and supporting the ideas presented in that Atlantic piece.

  75. 75
    Samara Morgan says:

    @MattR: reality (still) can’t be deduced

    yet freddie “deduces” reality from statistics here, right?
    yet you consider that to be mainstreaming and supporting the ideas presented in that Atlantic piece.
    and you recall, the title was “a statistics bleg” where asks for help on grade inflation, while musing that grade inflation is the reason the MULTIPLE lib arts millenials cant find jobs.

    the guy is simply a crappy writer farming page clicks here until he gets a paid gig.
    he falsely attacked Ygly on charter schools while musing that maybe teachers-unions charter schools would work.
    WTF? teachers unions is the magick secret ingredient?
    charters DO NOT WORK.
    freddie is the exemplar of the post title.
    he is randomly bloviating about anything that will get him some clicks.

    and sully hasn’t linked freddie since his last kangaroo slap fight with Beauchamp, one of his Borg.

  76. 76
    MattR says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    the title was “a statistics bleg” where asks for help on grade inflation, while musing that grade inflation is the reason the MULTIPLE lib arts millenials cant find jobs.

    You have it exactly backwards. He was asking for help disproving that grade inflation would cause multiple lib arts millenials to be unable to find jobs. IOW, he was asking for help refuting the article, not musing that it might be true. (EDIT: Actually, he was asking for help refuting part of the article while he refuted other parts of it within his post)

  77. 77
    MattR says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    the guy is simply a crappy writer farming page clicks here until he gets a paid gig.
    he falsely attacked Ygly on charter schools while musing that maybe teachers-unions charter schools would work.
    WTF? teachers unions is the magick secret ingredient?
    charters DO NOT WORK.
    freddie is the exemplar of the post title.
    he is randomly bloviating about anything that will get him some clicks.
    __
    and sully hasn’t linked freddie since his last kangaroo slap fight with Beauchamp, one of his Borg.

    The only reason any of this is remotely relevant to the conversation you and I are having is because it shows that you are so caught up in your freddie hatred that you can no longer accurately read the actual words he writes. That is how you get from him saying “Hey. Pretty sure this guy’s argument is BS. Can you help me prove why?” to him musing that the guy’s argument is true.

  78. 78
    Samara Morgan says:

    @MattR:

    4jkb4ia:Freddie has enough people who know him, like Sully, that he can get attention without being here.

    and

    musing that the guy’s argument is true.

    freddie is ” predisposed to be sympathetic to their plight.”
    why?
    what plight?
    isnt the REALITY that freddie deduced that lib arts grads are swimming in jobs? lol!

    btw, arent you that guy that was such a free market fanboi? and you really dug EDK’s free market fantasy forest too.
    how do you like the “freed” market naow?

  79. 79
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Samara Morgan: Shouldn’t you be looking for your next trustifarian, épater le bourgeois fad about now?

  80. 80
    MattR says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    This piece on angry unemployed and underemployed Millennials from the Atlantic drove me crazy, even though I’m predisposed to be sympathetic to their plight

    That is what Freddie actually said. I think most people are predisposed to be sympathetic to the unemployed and underemployed. Freddie does not limit that to recent liberal arts grads, he says “Millenials”. You were the one who decided to take the fact that he posted an article by a liberal arts grad and used that to limit Freddie’s words. (EDIT: Did you think that maybe he did not add the phrase “liberal arts grads” after Millenials for a reason?) Then after he posts part of the article from the Atlantic, he says the following which basically takes apart the arguments in the Atlantic argument. Yet you think that he is musing that the guy’s argument might be true.

    Aside from the sense of entitlement, the paranoid style that assumes forces are working against this relatively privileged person, the non sequitur about his hard partying peers, the reliance on the commonly assumed but unsupportable claim that liberal arts students are disadvantaged economically, the odd use of scare quotes around “state” (is the idea that, secretly, his college wasn’t a public university?), his assumption that he would have gotten that computer science or engineering degree had he tried (those are tough fields!), the lack of evidence that his particular school has high grade inflation, the mathematical evidence that even high grade inflation doesn’t prevent discrimination between similar students, and worst of all, the fact that he makes a show of blaming himself when his email makes clear that he most emphatically does not really blame himself….

    As for EDK, unsurprisingly you confuse criticism of your comments for inaccuracies with unqaulified support for the person that you were criticizing.

  81. 81
    Samara Morgan says:

    @MattR: wanna know why i loathe freddie and EDK (and Conor, Dr. Manzi, Ross and Reihan)? because i knew them before.
    I knew them from Culture 11 when there were still sane conservatives and honest libertarians.
    Do you know where the Culture 11 archives are today?

    Down the memory hole.
    scrubbed, purged, and the site colonized by spammers.

    because there are no sane conservatives or honest libertarians anymore.

    and freddie…..freddie was a liberal! but no one pays liberals for pageclicks, do they freddie?

  82. 82
    Samara Morgan says:

    @MattR:

    Freddie does not limit that to recent liberal arts grads, he says “Millenials”.

    LOLOLLLOL

    how many of the “Millenials” were CS or engineering graduates?
    and what about freddies feverish defense of lib arts degrees in his post?

    education: the subject where you can just make shit up

    why not just tell the whiner hes wrong, that freddie DEDUCED the value of lib arts degrees?
    the title of the post is

    reality (still) can’t be deduced

    which is it?

    and yes, you are defending freddie just like you defended Erik “freed market” Kain.
    tch tch.

  83. 83
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: shouldn’t you be defending the lemonade makers?
    after all their, intentions were noble.
    hey doglovers.
    did you notice what America did to Iraqi dogs?

    we were only trying to bring those dogs “real” democracy, right Omnes?

  84. 84
    MattR says:

    @Samara Morgan: I don’t care why you loathe freddie based on the past. You are unable to make honest arguments against her current stances.

    and freddie…..freddie was a liberal!

    And you used to be a conservative. So what?

    @Samara Morgan:

    why not just tell the whiner hes wrong, that freddie DEDUCED the value of lib arts degrees?

    If that was the argument you had made from the start, that might be a valid comment.

  85. 85
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Samara Morgan: Excellent. Mischaracterizing someone’s previous comments, that is about the level of intellectual honesty I would expect from you.

    Edited to add a plural.

  86. 86
    Samara Morgan says:

    against her current stances.

    freddie is a gurrl?

  87. 87
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: how am i mischaracterizing your argument?
    you said there can be no democracy without freedom of speech.
    but 84% of egyptians want harsh punishment for apostasy and blasphemy, and 84% of pakistanis do too.
    Indonesia calls itself a democracy– the citizens vote. But they have anti-blasphemy laws.
    Iraq has shariah in the constitution, and yet its citizens vote also.

  88. 88
    ovaut says:

    what use is empiricism if things are different every time?

  89. 89

    […] of speculative claims about the future. This is a really good example of what I was recently complaining about on Balloon Juice, the conspicuous lack of epistemological distinctions and accountability in the […]

  90. 90

    […] offer some final thoughts on the blogosphere, here’s Freddie yet again: I guess I just wish that the blogosphere (and forgive the collective indictment) at least […]

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] offer some final thoughts on the blogosphere, here’s Freddie yet again: I guess I just wish that the blogosphere (and forgive the collective indictment) at least […]

  2. […] of speculative claims about the future. This is a really good example of what I was recently complaining about on Balloon Juice, the conspicuous lack of epistemological distinctions and accountability in the […]

Comments are closed.