Talking to the right-winger in your life

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Michelle
Talking to the right-winger in your life

 

Michelle

quote:


More and more I find it really difficult to explain things pertaining to politics to people who have been "educated" in fields like engineering, pharmacy, the sciences, etc.
As the socialist that I am, I am engaging in too many discussions with people of very limited educational backgrounds (economics, etc) – most, if not all, are conservatives.

So, I guess my question is: how can one explain concepts and simple history to people with such limited mind frames?

Cheers,
Mikhail


[url=http://www.rabble.ca/now_what.shtml]The answer...[/url]

500_Apples

Such a condescending question.

The writer starts from the assumption that her background is broad, and that his friends are the dumb ones. He doesn't entertain the possibility that in fact he may be the narrow-minded one.

Michelle

Heh. Check out Ms C's response. You might like it!

Papal Bull

Just let them go about their lives as surely as they're going to let you go about yours. Arguing politics is tenuous, even amongst "allies".

500_Apples

I do, and it's a good point.

I've never seen anybody go from left to right or vice versa in a short time frame. Human beings are way too stubborn, and usually they had good reason to be where they are in the first place, so counterevidence will take a while to accumulate in a sufficient manner.

Stephen Gordon

quote:


I am engaging in too many discussions with people of very limited educational backgrounds (economics, etc)

Dear Mikhail:

Grow a brain, you insufferable, anti-intellectual smudge of vapid smugness.

St. Paul's Prog...

I've never found natural scientists to be rightwing...I'd say they fall more on the left than right side in my experience.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Stephen Gordon:
[b]

Dear Mikhail:

Grow a brain, you insufferable, anti-intellectual smudge of vapid smugness.[/b]


Any Rand rules right SG. Don't poke the Chicago Bears SG doesn't like it.

Stephen Gordon

If you're going to indulge self-gratifying fantasies, could you please close the door? And clean up after yourself.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

First let us assume there is a free market!!!! Fantasies are always fun don't you think.

Stephen Gordon

Not if they're about me.

jrootham

quote:


Originally posted by Stephen Gordon:
[b]

Dear Mikhail:

Grow a brain, you insufferable, anti-intellectual smudge of vapid smugness.[/b]


That's a pretty good translation of Ms. C's first sentence.

My impression of the reason that people that do well in activities that have good objective standards of goodness (engineering and athletics being classic) is that it's clear to them that they got there because they are better than the others in their immediate vicinity. So they think the whole world works that way.

How true that is is left as an exercise for the student.

Stephen Gordon

Another possibility is that Mikhail's interlocutors have developed analytical skills, and that they keep finding flaws in his arguments.

Maybe he's asking 'How do I deal with people who keep calling me when I make shit up?'

[ 04 July 2008: Message edited by: Stephen Gordon ]

jrootham

Doesn't reflect my experience with fellow computer programmers. They are mostly completely ignorant of the conditions most people live under.

I have had some flatly deny that median income is on the order of 30K, they assert it must be closer to 60K because of tips(!?).

Stephen Gordon

Economists wouldn't make that mistake. Nor would we dismiss computer scientists in a discussion of the merits of a particular algorithm.

jrootham

Point. Economists are a special case in this discussion.

Stargazer

Economists are often the worse. Ever take a University level economics course? Once they start in on the "free market" and the "invisible hand" my eyes glaze over and I know I am in the wrong class.

Apples, no offense but weren't you the one who posted the sciences on a scale, with sociologists being the lowest and mathematicians being the highest?

Anyways, most of the Business majors and computer science students were some of the most conservative groups of people I have ever met. I expect it is a product of their education OR they pick these fields because they are conservative.

jrootham

I would definitely posit self selection in part with those 2 groups. Both of them have significant sub populations who are in it for the money.

Er, with business that sub population is probably equal to the whole population [img]smile.gif" border="0[/img]

RosaL

quote:


Originally posted by Stephen Gordon:
[b]Another possibility is that Mikhail's interlocutors have developed analytical skills, and that they keep finding flaws in his arguments.

Maybe he's asking 'How do I deal with people who keep calling me when I make shit up?'

[ 04 July 2008: Message edited by: Stephen Gordon ][/b]


I found most of my computer science colleagues to be poorly equipped for moral or political arguments. (In fact, I can recall discussing this with one of them. He agreed.) I don't say this because a lot of them were conservative. I recognize a good debater whatever his or her position. I think it's maybe due to a lack of general knowledge: not knowing the history of such discussions, perhaps, or the range of opinion, the counter-arguments, etc.

That's not to say I haven't heard a lot of very poor arguments on all sides.

500_Apples

quote:


Originally posted by Stargazer:
[b]Economists are often the worse. Ever take a University level economics course? Once they start in on the "free market" and the "invisible hand" my eyes glaze over and I know I am in the wrong class.

Apples, no offense but weren't you the one who posted the sciences on a scale, with sociologists being the lowest and mathematicians being the highest?

Anyways, most of the Business majors and computer science students were some of the most conservative groups of people I have ever met. I expect it is a product of their education OR they pick these fields because they are conservative.[/b]


Yes I was.

But that scale was a joke, which was making fun of everybody, and anyway it had mathematics first and not the sciences.

500_Apples

Stephen Gordon,

Do you think Rand-O-Bots constitute a significant fraction of the economics population?

Stephen Gordon

No. But that doesn't stop people who have never met an economist from believing it.

Lord Palmerston

I wonder if there is still a difference between econ and business majors in terms of political views. Survey research from the 1970s demonstrated that econ majors were quite a bit more left than business majors, but this was when Keynesians were still pretty prominent on university faculties and before NAIRU, rational expectations, etc. were that prevalent in undergraduate courses. Although econ is a social science and not a "vocational" major I imagine far more go on to get MBA's than go into grad school in economics.

Stephen Gordon

Why on earth would you think that rational expectations is a 'right-wing' idea? Are leftists supposed to believe that people are stupid? Geez.

Lord Palmerston

Friedman's "natural rate" isn't inherently a rightwing idea either (Marx and Kalecki certainly endorsed similar ideas)...but I think economists perceive themselves to be less "liberal" than they did a generation ago...but how about the rest of my point? My feeling is a lot of progressive-minded people who might have been attracted to economics in the past don't do so today, but I have no way to prove it.

Stephen Gordon

Your feeling may well be justified. But if leftists are content with learning enough to sound well-informed at cocktail parties (or on internet discussion boards) attended by non-economists, then that's a problem for leftists, not economists.

Economics is an important subject, and learning it properly requires investing heavily in specialised skills. Intellectual sloth is not a moral virtue.

Coyote

But intellectual breadth, and the ability to see the forest for the trees, is.

Stephen Gordon

This is a conceit of the intellectually lazy. "I may not understand anything in particular, but I have strong opinions on a wide range of subjects."

Lord Palmerston

quote:


Originally posted by Stephen Gordon:
[b]Your feeling may well be justified. But if leftists are content with learning enough to sound well-informed at cocktail parties (or on internet discussion boards) attended by non-economists, then that's a problem for leftists, not economists.

Economics is an important subject, and learning it properly requires investing heavily in specialised skills. Intellectual sloth is not a moral virtue.[/b]


There's some truth to that. For instance a lot of leftists are hostile to the idea of a "natural rate of unemployment, quite understandably I think. Doesn't mean they should just "give up" and say, ah, economics is just rightwing pseudo-science.

That being said, have you found there to be a difference between econ majors and business majors in terms of aspirations, political views, etc.?

Coyote

quote:


Originally posted by Stephen Gordon:
[b]This is a conceit of the intellectually lazy. "I may not understand anything in particular, but I have strong opinions on a wide range of subjects."[/b]

Actually, the conceit is not mine. I claim no expertise in economics - and in fact, Stephen, I am far more likely than most on this board to accept your word on economic theory, though I may disagree with you in terms of policy because i believe the political consequences of a given policy are greater than the benefits or risks you cite from an economic perspective.

There was a time when being "cultured" meant having a breadth of knowledge in a variety of areas, because we knew that history affects literature affects politics affects economics affects sport affects nature affects etc., etc., etc. Today, in fields as "diverse" as literature and economics, experts create insider language that excludes those not inititated into the elite of a given field. Their study no longer contributes to public debate, in fact the public is advised very seriously to "stay out of it".

This obscures knowledge, debate, and I would argue democracy.

but then, maybe i'm just conceited.

Lord Palmerston

quote:


Originally posted by Coyote:
Today, in fields as "diverse" as literature and economics, experts create insider language that excludes those not inititated into the elite of a given field. Their study no longer contributes to public debate, in fact the public is advised very seriously to "stay out of it".

This obscures knowledge, debate, and I would argue democracy.


To the extent that is true, is it only a recent development? George Bernard Shaw once remarked that the professions are a conspiracy against the general public.

Coyote

And that is a good point. I try to remind myself constantly that there is nothing new under the sun.

500_Apples

quote:


Originally posted by Coyote:
[b]And that is a good point. I try to remind myself constantly that there is nothing new under the sun.[/b]

A lot of very intelligent people have been working a lot of hours on a lot of questions for a very long time.

When Isaac Newton published the principia, other intellectuals were shocked that there was a development they could not understand.

The days of people being experts on all subjects are over, and that is because there is a lot that is new under the sun.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

quote:


Originally posted by Stephen Gordon:
[b]Economics is an important subject, and learning it properly requires investing heavily in specialised skills. Intellectual sloth is not a moral virtue.[/b]

Self-awareness is a moral virtue. Hypocrisy isn't.

If you feel entitled to sit back and pass judgment on the economic ignorance of your inferiors here, you are obliged to debate the issues and explain what error you perceive in their approach.

But you don't; perhaps you can't, but most likely it's just 'intellectual sloth'.

As such, you continuously infuriate, and are seldom (and less and less often) seen to make any useful contribution here. This thread is a perfect example of your dismissive and alienating behaviour.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

quote:


Economists wouldn't make that mistake.

Oh, c'mon, Stephen. Most economists are ideologically slanted. If a theory doesn't fit their ideological beliefs, it is dismissed while those that do are trumpeted. You, yourself, will continue to advocate economic models and theories even when all the evidence suggests the opposite results (or worse the results just aren't tabulated).

Two easy and quick examples:

One, to prove that Friedman-ite economic theories are working, i.e. keeping inflation in check (inflation defined primarily as worker's wages, IMV), food and energy are removed from the US measurement of "Core Inflation". Yes, yes, they have many arguments and rationale to justify this, but it is skewed numbers nonetheless and supported by economists.

There are two messages one can derive from this: One is that the government and their economists don't give a shit about the impacts of inflation on citizens or, more likely, 2.2% inflation sounds much nicer to the economic ideologues than 4 or 5 per cent inflation.

A second example: In Wisconsin, the government did a common sense revolution and tightened welfare restrictions that impacted largely single mothers and their children. The economists and politicians who championed the draconian laws heralded the much reduced welfare rates for the state. Poverty advocates say the new regulations have cast many women and children into deeper poverty and, often, homelessness.

So who is right? Well, the politicians and their economists chose not to track people once they leave welfare. So the only statistic that matters is the one that would indicate welfare rolls are lower.

Sorry, Stephen, economics can, and is, twisted and turned to suit any ideological preconception no matter how bent.

Economists are not free of ideology and as Friedman and his many followers have proved, they have no moral qualms about perverting their academic knowledge in the service of their ideological faith.

[ 05 July 2008: Message edited by: Frustrated Mess ]

Sven Sven's picture

Other than Prof. Gordon, are there any other professional economists who post here with any regularity?

[ 05 July 2008: Message edited by: Sven ]

Coyote

I certainly believe that Stephen contributes greatly to this board. He challenges the prevailing wisdom here, and has in fact changed my mind on a number of issues with his arguments. I appreciate him and his contribution here immensely.

That we disagree on some basic starting point issues bothers me not a whit. That he is snarky on occasion does not bother me either; he is subject to much snark himself. That doesn't mean I won't strenuously respond when I think he is far off the mark, and I hope he does the same with me.

If I have ever given another impression, I hope this corrects that record.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

quote:


That doesn't mean I won't strenuously respond when I think he is far off the mark, and I hope he does the same with me.

I hope he does, too. Unfortunately, my point was that Stephen seems to have given up on making any effort whatsoever.

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

quote:


Other than Prof. Gordon, are there any other professional economists who post here with any regularity?

How would we know? Is MikeS an economist?

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

quote:


For simple history, it's gotta be Howard Zinn. I’m in the middle of reading A People’s History of American Empire, his new graphic adaptation of his book A People’s History of the United States. Excellent for those who want or need a history lesson that doesn’t get taught in school. There isn't one for Canada as far as I know.

For a Canadian history, Ms. C. might want to try "Reflections of a Siamese Twin: Canada at the End of the Twentieth Century", by John Ralston Saul.

Stephen Gordon

quote:


Originally posted by Lard Tunderin' Jeezus:
Self-awareness is a moral virtue. Hypocrisy isn't.

If you feel entitled to sit back and pass judgment on the economic ignorance of your inferiors here, you are obliged to debate the issues and explain what error you perceive in their approach.

But you don't; perhaps you can't, but most likely it's just 'intellectual sloth'.

As such, you continuously infuriate, and are seldom (and less and less often) seen to make any useful contribution here. This thread is a perfect example of your dismissive and alienating behaviour.



quote:

I hope he does, too. Unfortunately, my point was that Stephen seems to have given up on making any effort whatsoever.

Is it at all possible for you to participate in one of these threads without passing judgment on me?

oldgoat

I just want to say that lefties like the letter writer embarrass the crap out of me. Education schmeducation! I try to get some sense of what's in a persons heart, and whatever follows from there follows.

Unionist

quote:


Originally posted by Stephen Gordon:
[b]... learning enough to sound well-informed at cocktail parties ...[/b]

That's a function of how late you arrive.

Michelle

Okay, this is at the point now where I'm going to tell you, LTJ, to pretend that Stephen Gordon doesn't exist - which means never EVER addressing his posts, either directly or talking about him in the third person - because you seem to find it impossible to address him or talk about him without attacking him.

As for you, Stephen, perhaps people wouldn't get pissed off at you if you didn't imply that they are "intellectually lazy".

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

quote:


which means never EVER addressing his posts, either directly or talking about him in the third person

Whoa! Like ever? Do you guys keep a moderator database? Am I in there?

Michelle

No. Maybe we should. It's just so frustrating dealing with the same thing over and over and over again. Are we adults here or are we not?

Frustrated Mess Frustrated Mess's picture

Unfortunately I'm becoming a geezer. Cricks and pains and ornery at them younguns squealing their tires all day.

Stephen Gordon

quote:


Originally posted by Michelle:
As for you, Stephen, perhaps people wouldn't get pissed off at you if you didn't imply that they are "intellectually lazy".

I'm sorry about that, especially if Coyote took it as an accusation - that was certainly not my intention. There was a certain amount of abstraction here; I recognised that Coyote was raising a hypothetic argument, and not accusing me directly. My response was meant to be in kind - that is, a response to the argument, not the person who raised it.

Does that make sense? The shorter version: I wasn't aiming that crack at anyone who posted on this thread.

Coyote, my apologies. I should have been as clear as you were.

Michael Hardner

My favourite economist to read is Paul Krugman at the NYT. He is great at explaining concepts, backing up his point of view, and seems to be fair and intellectually honest.

If SG is 'above us' for lack of a better word, in the field of economics, then he should take the opportunity to educate us and engage in honest debate. I for one would appreciate the opportunity to learn more on the topic.

I have a degree in Mathematics, and have worked in computer sciences for many years. My social circle includes several individual with science degrees who, like me, consider themselves left of center.

If I'm engaged in a debate where mathematical knowledge comes into play, I always try to take the time to explain and simplify concepts. It's usually possible to explain even difficult concepts to most people and web forums provide a good medium for Q&A.

Stephen Gordon

quote:


Originally posted by Michael Hardner:
My favourite economist to read is Paul Krugman at the NYT. He is great at explaining concepts, backing up his point of view, and seems to be fair and intellectually honest.

Oh, I heartily agree. Sadly, I'm not in his league.

quote:

If SG is 'above us' for lack of a better word, in the field of economics, then he should take the opportunity to educate us and engage in honest debate. I for one would appreciate the opportunity to learn more on the topic.

You will find that when I am asked an honest, direct question - that is, one that doesn't amount to 'Are you an asshole or a hypocrite?' - I'm very accommodating. If necessary, I will do a literature search and summarise what I find.

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