Friday, February 27, 2015

Krugman on Climate


Or at least the climate of discourse in these days, expressing perfectly the differences between Eli on one side and, and, . . . . well others.
I see three choices: 
1. Continue to write and speak as if we were still having a genuine intellectual dialogue, in the hope that politeness and persistence will make the pretense come true. I think that’s one way to understand Olivier Blanchard’s now somewhat infamous 2008 paper on the state of macro; he was, you could argue, trying to appeal to the better angels of freshwater nature. The trouble with this strategy, however, is that it can end up legitimizing work that doesn’t deserve respect — and there is also a tendency to let your own work get distorted as you try to find common ground where none exists. 
2. Point out the wrongness, but quietly and politely. This has the virtue of being honest, and useful to anyone who reads it. But nobody will. 
3. Point out the wrongness in ways designed to grab readers’ attention — with ridicule where appropriate, with snark, and with names attached. This will get read; it will get you some devoted followers, and a lot of bitter enemies. One thing it won’t do, however, is change any of those closed minds. 
So is there a reason I go for door #3, other than simply telling the truth and having some fun while I’m at it? Yes — because the point is not to convince Rick Santelli or Allan Meltzer that they are wrong, which is never going to happen. It is, instead, to deter other parties from false equivalence. Inflation cultists can’t be moved; but reporters and editors who tend to put out views-differ-on-shape-of-planet stories because they think it’s safe can be, sometimes, deterred if you show that they are lending credence to charlatans. And this in turn can gradually move the terms of discussion, possibly even pushing the nonsense out of the Overton window. 
And the inflation-cult story is, I think, a prime example. Yes, you still get coverage treating both sides as equivalent — but not nearly as consistently as in the past. When Paul hyperinflation-in-the-Hamptons Singer complains about the “Krugmanization” of the media, who have the impudence to point out that the inflation he and his friends kept predicting never materialized, that’s a sign that we’re getting somewhere. 
It really would be nice not having to do things this way. But that’s the world we live in — and, as I said, there’s some compensation in the fact that one can have a bit of fun doing it.

31 comments:

Florifulgurator said...

There's another reason for taking door #3. Kari Norgaard points at it with her book "Living in Denial": Besides having the fun and ridicule, make denial socially unacceptable.

Tom said...

Too bad your tribe can't do math as well as Krugman.

andthentheresphysics said...

I think number 3 is also an interesting option. There are people out there who - I think - would like to be taken seriously, but who will sprout nonsense if they can do so without being ridiculed. So option 3 has the possibility of both encouraging some existing commenters to think more about what they're saying and also discouraging others from heading in that direction. The fear of ridicule could be quite powerful.

ourchangingclimate said...

Interesting.

I'm in nr 2 mostly, but indeed this gives a strong argument for the nr 3 (aka "Eli style"?).

I think it's good if people communicate in different ways, since they will then appeal to different audiences. If that means my audience remains small, so be it.

E.g. there are people, esp those who are vulnerable to a contrarian outlook on things, who would be turned off by ridicule or snark, or who would use the snarkiness as an alibi to dismiss the underlying argument. For those people it's good that there are also nr 2's (and perhaps even nr 1's, but that's a little harder to defend) around.

Diversity of tactics.

Bart

Fernando Leanme said...

I wrote a short essay about Noorgard and friends, "I'm going underground". Found a really funny angle to laugh at intolerant types like her.

I'm more for the keep it nice approach. If you get nasty then you start speaking in an echo chamber.

afeman said...

The parallels between Krugman et al. and climate discourse in the interactions particularly between journalists, specialists, and contrarians (and sometimes contrarian specialists) are a lot of what I find interesting about the former. Part of that dynamic is how Krugman is construed as rude when his level of snark actually seems more RealClimate level than that of Eli's, insofar as he mostly just says "so-and-so is demonstrably wrong again, here's an example..." with a bit of Tobisian meta-analysis. Moreover this is in the face of a weirdly hostile and paranoid peanut gallery which also may not be remarked on without being deemed snarky or "tribal".

Florifulgurator said...

afeman says it.

There's a difference between bullying and ridicule. Fernando just brought up a classical example: Rush Limbaugh vs. Kari Norgaard. http://ideas.time.com/2012/04/10/when-grownups-bully-climate-scientists/

afeman said...

And to be clear, characterizing Eli's archness as rude in the face of insinuations of fraud and totalitarianism is a sign that your meter's broken.

neverendingaudit said...

I recall Eli saying the same thing as BartV. Different strokes for different folks. Having different playing styles provides an ethological asset. It is also more interesting to read.

I associate this with the four lines in hockey:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_(ice_hockey)#Types_of_line

***

The same argument should also apply within ClimateBall players themselves. There are times where snark tops infomercials. There are times when openness pays off too.

Think of it as the pitches in a pitcher's repertoire. (That's baseball, BartV.) I and Eli are more from the Greg Maddux type. BartV is more a Roger Clemens. You know it will be a fast ball or a really fast ball. Hank would be a Pedro Martinez.

Even if Krugman seems to rubber name calling, it's still the cheapest snark around. Its usefulness belongs in group dynamics. In ClimateBall, style matters too much to be of any real use.

PS: If someone could find why Nic Lewis assumes that alpha is constant in his derivation, that would be nice.

Hank Roberts said...

Krugman keeps forgetting and rediscovering and forgetting that the people making the policy choices don't care what academics say.

"... More important, over the past several years policy makers across the Western world have pretty much ignored the professional consensus on government spending and everything else, placing their faith instead in doctrines most economists firmly reject...."
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/01/opinion/paul-krugman-knowledge-isnt-power.html


Sou said...

Nice :)

Hank Roberts said...

Pedro who?

EliRabett said...

In hardball you need a good change-up to go with the heat:)

Fernando Leanme said...

Florifulgurator, I thought Noorgard's proposal to have me treated by shrinks who could use mind altering drugs to a throwback to Solzhenitzyn's "Cancer Ward" or "one flew over the cuckoo's nest".

I don't watch Mr Rush Limbo, but I imagine he is also one hell of an extremist in this area. One of these days I have to tell you what happened when Hannity's screener put me through to discuss George Bush sometime in 2004. Sean got incredibly pissed at her after he hung up on me.

Florifulgurator said...

Fernando, it would be nice if you had a link to what she said/wrote. No hearsay please, also not that famous press release (which was botched like many a university PR thing, and not her words).

Lars Karlsson said...

Concering Norgaard: the part about
'mind altering drug' seems to be an invention by tin-foil-hat blogger Alan Caruba.

neverendingaudit said...

Martinez, Hank.

Unless you prefer Randy Johnson or Tom Glavine?

Russell Seitz said...

In a parallel mental universe , where Raypierre is a Chicago School Climatologist, I find inflation a useful didactic analog of climate forcing .

While the per diem rate of temperature inflation may be reckoned in tens of microdegrees-- very small change , CO2 bracket creep lurched into being ~ 100,000 days ago , at the Industrial Revolution's start and after ten to the five days , tens of microdegrees start to mount up.

Add population growth and quality of life feedbacks and you are on the primrose path to hyperinflation .

Victor Venema said...

Inflation cultists can’t be moved; but reporters and editors who tend to put out views-differ-on-shape-of-planet stories because they think it’s safe can be, sometimes, deterred if you show that they are lending credence to charlatans.

Compromise. Strategy 2 towards scientists. Strategy 3 towards "journalists".

Elena said...

Global warming and changed climate conditions are a fact of today's society, so we cannot deny this either way.
Industry and people pollute every day and our planet has had enough of this.
We need as individuals to learn how to protect the environment if others don't.
http://www.alternative-energies.net/a-few-solutions-to-fight-climate-change-in-2015/

Hank Roberts said...

Ay Caruba!

That goes way beyond tin-foil hat. He's into incompetent-to-use-Google territory, claiming that what he can't find has been "disappeared" from the record.

Too bad the Internet has never had a trusted reference librarian. These wackos who can't help themselves might .... but that's fantasy.

Hank Roberts said...

Here's the problem:
http://www.journalism.org/2014/10/21/political-polarization-media-habits/

Can you imagine getting a reliable source of information somehow wedged into Fox to reach the people who see only the Fox material?

Hank Roberts said...

the picture, from that journalism.org article, sums it up:

http://www.journalism.org/files/2014/10/10-20-2014-2-31-55-PM.png

Fernando Leanme said...

Florifulgurator, here's a quote from my essay about the subject:

I also found professors who think I must be treated kindly because I´m a bit crazy. For example, Kari Marie Norgaard (professor of sociology and environmental studies at the University of Oregon):

"People are individually and collectively habituated to the ways we act and think. This habituation must be recognized and simultaneously addressed at the individual, cultural and societal level — how we think the world works and how we think it should work."

What does this bullshit mean? She thinks I´m “habituated” to the ways I act and think, and that my problem must be recognized and addressed. She may not consider the idea that I consider she´s the one who is crazy, but I´m not proposing “treatment to change how she thinks and how things should work”.

The Daily Mail , a British newspaper described her ideas as follows: “The professor….argued that ‘cultural resistance’ to accepting humans as being responsible for climate change ‘must be recognised and treated’ as an aberrant sociological behaviour"

The comment about mind altering drugs was my original. I thought it added a nice touch. I also understand these American shrinks are really into dosing patients with pills and electric shocks?

Anyway, I thought she sure sounded crazy. But you know me, I always try things to be kind and humorous. I reserve my vitriolic side for the two baddies I despise, Castro and Maduro.

Florifulgurator said...

Fernando: From the press release that started it all, the reply to your essay: "This kind of cultural resistance to very significant social threat is something that we would expect in any society facing a massive threat," she said. http://uonews.uoregon.edu/archive/news-release/2012/3/simultaneous-action-needed-break-cultural-inertia-climate-change-respons

(I don't think it was such a massive threat until 1-2 decades ago. The denial made it one. Societies can commit suicide.)

Steven said...

Fernando wrote:
"The Daily Mail , a British newspaper described her ideas as follows: “The professor….argued that ‘cultural resistance’ to accepting humans as being responsible for climate change ‘must be recognised and treated’ as an aberrant sociological behaviour""

The Daily Mail is full of sh*t in this instance, as so often in others. Yet you believe it.

EliRabett said...

Eli fears Victor misses the point that, as Krugman points out, there are scientists feeding pap to the churnalists. Thodr are exactly the ones that need to be mocked.

Victor Venema said...

Victor fears that the rabbit misses the aspect that even if this strategy works in the public "debate", it would not be good for the scientific community.

EliRabett said...

Eli fears Victor defines the scientific community rather overbroadly

Victor Venema said...

Victor fears that when people become less polite to people some bunnies do not see as scientists, also the atmosphere changes for the scientists that these bunnies do see as scientists.

Jeffrey Davis said...

I've never believed in the sincerity of climate deniers or freshwater economists. Even allowing for the difference between sincerity and authenticity. (Sincerity is a goober's virtue.) There's too much evidence that both are willing tools.