23 Oct 2015

Contra? Positive!

Contra Krugman 17 Comments

(A little logic joke there for ya…)

==> Tom and I have another episode of Contra Krugman out!

==> Here’s Scott Alexander “contra Caplan” taking on Caplan’s analysis of mental illness. Incidentally, this was a great post to make me think how economists take certain things for granted when analyzing a situation. (HT2 Tyler Cowen)

17 Responses to “Contra? Positive!”

  1. E. Harding says:

    Aw! You didn’t even mention the no minimum wage and privatized fire departments!

  2. Tel says:

    No one said that too much government involvement in the economy, and generous handouts will end up looking like Mad Max. For starters that was filmed in the dusty, red Australian outback, which is not even remotely similar to an industrial wasteland. It isn’t even industrial.

    I think it would look a lot more like this…


    I know a guy who grew up in Toyota City, and the place is still in pretty good shape when you compare with Detroit. On the subject of cars though, my wife’s beat up old Corolla (built last century) makes me more happy as time goes on. I keep thinking, “Is that thing still going?” Still starts in about two seconds, even in winter.

  3. Andrew_FL says:

    There better be a Hamlet joke in this one.

    • Andrew_FL says:

      There was not, you have disappointed me greatly.

  4. guest says:

    Someone in the comments section of Contra Krugman, Episode 6 said:

    “Before the advent of the euro and the European Central Banks, the European system allowed people to age gracefully. So the question to ask is it pre-euro socialism that got Europe the way it is now or is it the reckless monetary policy as executed by the ECB?”

    The point of the Euro is for governments to be able to export inflation among their EU countries so as to hide its pestilent effects.

    So, socialist countries without the ability to do so – such as pre-Euro Europe – are restricted in the amount of economic damage they can cause.

    • Colombo says:

      They’ll find a way out of their paper shackles. Hang on, don’t lose hope.

    • E. Harding says:

      Not so much exporting inflation, as exporting default.

      • guest says:

        That’s a point that Ron Paul also makes: that inflation is perpetual default.

        I can’t pay you back, so I’ll print claims to what I owe.

        (That FRNs aren’t supposed to be backed by anything doesn’t hurt my point; It just makes FRNs that much more fraudulent.)

  5. anon says:

    I tried to read Scott A’s takedown. I really did. But after a few paragraphs, his cleverness just became too much for me. If he and McCloskey coauthored a book, it would make War & Peace look like a pamphlet.

    The error of “mental illness” is straightforward: “illness” refers to physical maladies, which a physician specializes in treating. Thus, a person can’t be “mentally ill” if he displays unusual patterns of thought or behavior, any more than a person can be “musically ill” if he can’t carry a tune. If he has a brain tumor or has suffered from apoplexy, the physical damage is the illness, and the physician can attempt to treat that through medication, surgery, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

    But to say that a patient is “musically ill” without addressing or even being aware of the underlying physical causes of his musical deficiencies–if any–is irresponsible and accounts for a lot of the accusations of pseudoscience you get from the anti-psychiatry crowd. If psychiatry were humbler or more fundamentally sound in its reasoning and terminology, we’d be less likely to rake its practitioners over the coals. But it’s not, so we do. Lose the hubris and the pseudoscientific disease model–basically become physiological psychology–and the field earns more intellectual credibility.

    • Andrew_FL says:

      The term for this is “Category Error.”

    • Craw says:

      Well it is very obvious you did not read the piece.

      For your next trick you can claim there is no such thing as a software bug, because there is no hardware glitch involved.

      • guest says:

        The Lying Liars Who Lie About Psychiatry

        “Major media never picked up on the interview in any serious way. It never became a scandal.

        “Dr. Allen Frances is the man who, in 1994, headed up the project to write the latest edition of the psychiatric bible, the DSM-IV. This tome defines and labels and describes every official mental disorder. The DSM-IV eventually listed 297 of them.

        “In an April 19, 1994, New York Times piece, “Scientist At Work,” Daniel Goleman called Frances “Perhaps the most powerful psychiatrist in America at the moment…” …”

        “… Long after the DSM-IV had been put into print, Dr. Frances talked to Wired’s Greenberg and said the following:

        ““There is no definition of a mental disorder. It’s bullshit. I mean, you just can’t define it.”

        The Wired article referenced:

        Inside the Battle to Define Mental Illness

      • anon says:

        Of course I didn’t read the whole thing. Neither did you. I dread the lovecraftian mind that would finish a SA post. The guy divides his posts into numbered subsections.

        Responding to your snark in kind, if your hardware is faulty, it’s not a software glitch. The disease model is only applicable to physical illness (a necessary redundancy here). It’s incorrect to apply it to psychological or social phenomenon, which necessarily refer to something other than the gross physical.

        At some point, we’ve got to admit that we’re beyond blind loyalty to positivism and are plumbing the depths of absurdity when we start babbling about mental (or musical, or spiritual) illness as anything other than a metaphor.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Anon that line about War and Peace was pretty good, can I repeat it and credit you?

      • anon says:

        Don’t know that I can encourage you to credit “Anon” for taking a lazy potshot at a chatty elder economist, but PK did credit “Lord Keynes” that one time.

  6. Tel says:

    Congratulations on the new Contra Krugman, and it’s amazingly nice of Krugman to help you out with your new book like that. I don’t think you formally thanked him, maybe a bunch of flowers would be nice (remember to check local NY stalking laws, to ensure you don’t overstep the mark, I hear there’s a lot of regulations in that neck of the woods).


    There’s two types of part timers the “Slack Business” and the “Could only Find Part-Time” group. The curve for the two is quite different. Those “Slack Business” types follow pretty much what you might expect with a classical “panic” situation: the number shoots up rapidly, then eases down steadily as confidence returns. The others kept rising for some time into that “recovery” and then very gradually turned the corner.

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