Who is bullshiting who here?25 January, 2015 at 15:48 | Posted in Politics & Society | 11 Comments
Larry Wasserman — statistics professor at Carnegie Mellon University — wrote a while ago on Deborah Mayo’s blog Error Statistics Philosophy:
First, I now think Franken was wrong. CNN and network news have a strong liberal bias, especially on economic issues. FOX has an obvious right wing, and anti-atheist bias. (At least FOX has some libertarians on the payroll.) And this does matter. Because people believe what they see on TV and what they read in the NY times. Paul Krugman’s socialist bullshit parading as economics has brainwashed millions of Americans. So media bias is much more than who makes better hummus.
Let’s see what a somewhat more level-headed statistics professor — Andrew Gelman — has to say on his colleague’s, to say the least, somewhat bizarre statement:
Larry also writes of “Paul Krugman’s socialist bullshit parading as economics.” That’s another example of defining away the problem. I think I’d prefer to let Paul Krugman (or, on the other side, Greg Mankiw) define his approach. For better or worse, I think it’s ridiculous to describe what Krugman (or Mankiw) does as X “parading as economics,” for any X. Sorry, but what Krugman and Mankiw do is economics. They’re leading economists, and if you don’t like what they do, fine, but that just means there’s some aspect of economics that you don’t like. It’s silly to restrict “economics” to just the stuff you like. Just to shift sideways for a moment, I hate the so-called Fisher randomization test, and I also can’t stand the inverse-gamma (0.001, 0.001) prior distribution—but I recognize that these are part of statistics. They’re just statistical methods that I don’t like. For good reasons. I’m not saying that my dislike of these methods (or Larry’s dislike of Krugman’s economics) is merely a matter of taste—we have good reasons for our attitudes—but, no, we don’t have the authority to rule that a topic is not part of economics, or not part of statistics, just because we don’t like it.
Oddly enough, I don’t really have a problem with someone describing Krugman’s or Mankiw’s writing as “bullshit” (even though I don’t personally agree with this characterization, at least not most of the time) as with the attempt to define it away by saying it is “parading as economics.” Krugman’s and Mankiw’s writing may be bullshit, but it definitely is economics. No parading about that.
True, Andrew. Let’s have no parading. Wasserman’s shameless gibberish is one of the most viciously misleading bullshit I’ve come across for a long time.