Dangerous Convictions: Dogmatism versus Empiricism

I caught some of this on C-Span over the weekend.  Nice catch to the folk at Winning Progressive for summarizing Allen’s perspective.

The root of the problem, Allen argues, lies in what the media routinely ignore: those statements made by members of Congress as they declare why they will support this policy or oppose that one.

Allen knew his public statements were straightforward expressions of his reasons. He believed most of his Democratic colleagues also said what they truly believed when they spoke about public issues. But what of Republicans? Time and again he asked his fellow Democrats: “Do they really believe what they say?”

The answer, Allen came to recognize, was “Yes, Republicans really do believe what they say” … even when what they say is demonstrably, empirically false.

Why is that?

Allen argues that Republicans argue from principles, and when facts contradict their principles the facts must be wrong. What’s more, Allen writes, Republicans reject the possibility that Democrats might argue from facts. Instead, Republicans presume that Democrats argue from opposing principles, hence their claims President Obama and Democrats are “socialists” whose response to any problem is “more government” and “less freedom.”

In the past I’ve touched on similar concepts.  The problem is a fundamental disconnect in the way the two parties view the world.  Republicans for example see government only in terms of bigger and smaller, not in terms of better or more effective.

A key divide is between negative liberty and positive liberty:

In the Republican worldview, “freedom” means only negative liberty: the absence of interference from others. That worldview dismisses positive liberty: the presence of opportunities and resources to fulfill one’s own potential.

John McGowan’s book American Liberalism talks about the idea that government is a necessary agent of freedom – government facilitates greater freedom.  The expansion of government doesn’t negate the expansion of freedom.  That’s positive liberty; the Republican view is based on the idea that if government passes a new law, we are all less free.  Anti-discrimination laws mean people’s freedom has been curtailed.  Arguments against the Affordable Care Act’s component on birth control made more sense when seen in this light.

WP is going to be exploring Allen’s view further so watch for updates.  Read the whole thing, it’s worth your time.

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  1. #1 by Richard Warnick on February 19, 2013 - 9:32 am

    In his SOTU response, Senator Marco Rubio exhibited classic signs of someone who is consciously lying.

    Frequently, liars will gaze downward and to the right (your left). Because this is a well-known sign, though, someone who’s lying may force themselves to make eye contact.

    …Notice any covering of the mouth or touching of the face. Liars will often try to “hide” the lie by blocking the view of their mouth. Almost as common is touching the nose or an eye in some seemingly innocuous fashion. These are all attempts to cover up the dishonesty, and it is also considered by some to be a subconscious expression of shame.

    Look for any indication that the speaker has a dry mouth, a common side effect of lying. This can include lip licking, frequent swallowing or repetitious small sips of a beverage.

    I am not convinced that Republicans always believe what they say, especially when they’re forced to stick to false right-wing talking points.

    • #2 by Glenden Brown on February 19, 2013 - 10:02 am

      At Winning Progressive, they talk about Rubio’s response. The conflict between facts and ideology are resolved by Republicans deciding facts are in error. That seems familiar . . .

  2. #3 by brewski on February 19, 2013 - 11:18 am

    Rubio’s facts are correct.

  3. #4 by Richard Warnick on February 19, 2013 - 11:40 am

    Senator Rubio’s speech was nothing but a recycled Romney speech from before the election. He didn’t even try to do a proper rebuttal to the SOTU.

  4. #5 by brewski on February 19, 2013 - 2:33 pm

    Rubio’s facts are correct.

  5. #6 by Richard Warnick on February 19, 2013 - 3:13 pm

    Paul Krugman Tears Apart Marco Rubio’s SOTU Response

    Look, this is one of the most thoroughly researched topics out there, and every piece of the government-did-it thesis has been refuted; see Mike Konczal for a summary. No, the CRA wasn’t responsible for the epidemic of bad lending; no, Fannie and Freddie didn’t cause the housing bubble; no, the “high-risk” loans of the GSEs weren’t remotely as risky as subprime.

    This really isn’t about the GSEs, it’s about the BSEs — the Blame Someone Else crowd. Faced with overwhelming, catastrophic evidence that their faith in unregulated financial markets was wrong, they have responded by rewriting history to defend their prejudices.

  6. #7 by brewski on February 19, 2013 - 6:03 pm

    If the government were not to blame, then why did Krugman blame Alan Greenspan (you know, the chairman of the Fed, a government employee) first for the financial crisis?

    Krugman successfully contradicts himself while unintentionally making the most effective case that he is an idiot.

  7. #8 by Richard Warnick on February 19, 2013 - 6:57 pm

    Marco Rubio wasn’t blaming Alan Greenspan, or any other right-wing ideologues. But they were part of the problem.

  8. #9 by brewski on February 19, 2013 - 7:14 pm

    How do you know he wasn’t blaming irresponsible printing of money starting in 2004? Lots of well respected economists not of any partisan hack persuasion blame the bubble on excess liquidity caused by the Fed. Krugman seems to think so, so why is he contradicting himself now?

  9. #10 by brewski on February 19, 2013 - 8:05 pm

    “This paper makes a case that the global imbalances of the 2000s and the recent global
    financial crisis are intimately connected. Both have their origins in economic policies
    followed in a number of countries in the 2000s and in distortions that influenced the
    transmission of these policies through U.S. and ultimately through global financial
    markets.

    In the U.S., the interaction among the Fed’s monetary stance, global real interest rates, credit market distortions, and financial innovation created the toxic mix of
    conditions making the U.S. the epicenter of the global financial crisis.”

    So these Berkeley and Harvard economists put a large measure of blame on “economic policies” (e.g. the government) and “the Fed’s monetary stance” (e.g. the government).

    Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff*
    *University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University. Paper prepared for the
    Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Asia Economic Policy Conference, Santa
    Barbara, CA, October 18-20, 2009. Conference participants and especially discussant
    Ricardo Caballero offered helpful comments. We thank Alexandra Altman and Matteo
    Maggiori for outstanding research assistance. Financial support was provided by the
    Coleman Fung Risk Management Center at UC Berkeley.

    And all you can come up with is ignorant partisan rants about “right-wing ideologues.” You are the Sarah Palin of economics ignoramuses.

    http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~obstfeld/santabarbara.pdf

  10. #11 by Richard Warnick on February 20, 2013 - 5:27 pm

    The right-wing response to history is always the same: “Get me re-write!”

  11. #12 by brewski on February 20, 2013 - 5:33 pm

    I will let the Harvard and Berkeley economists (as well as the OECD and other independent economists) know that they are just right wing hacks according to an uneducated blogger who only listens to people who parrot back to him what he already concluded based on his understanding of exactly nothing.

  12. #13 by Richard Warnick on February 20, 2013 - 5:48 pm

    OK, so interest rates are through the floor, there is no inflation, the jobs deficit continues, the foreclosure crisis continues, we’ve got Bowles and Simpson demanding MORE austerity budgeting, and the sequester is about to partially shut down the federal government to make Tea Partyers happy.

    U.S. wealth distribution has become so extreme that nearly half of America has, on the average, ZERO WEALTH (debt exceeds assets). As for income, the richest 1% seemed to perform the impossible from 2009 to 2011, capturing MORE THAN 100% of the new income gains (income decreased for the other 99%).

    And brewski says, “let’s blame Democrats and poor people.” Well, in reality, they had nothing to do with it.

    One wrong economist is the same as any number of wrong economists, from whatever university campuses you care to name! (0 x 0 = 0). These are the guys telling us to fill sandbags in the middle of a drought. If they (and Bowles and Simpson, aka “B-S”) had their way, we’d be in a double-dip recession now just like Europe.

  13. #14 by brewski on February 20, 2013 - 7:44 pm

    And your point is what exactly other than to demonstrate that you are a raving ranting bitter lunatic with no knowledge of anything?

  14. #15 by Richard Warnick on February 20, 2013 - 8:46 pm

    I think that was a pretty good rant. It had the advantage of being true!

  15. #16 by brewski on February 21, 2013 - 3:34 am

    Not one word. Just a rant. 100% false. All of it.

  16. #17 by Shane on February 21, 2013 - 8:25 am

    that was just mean. No irony meter could possibly handle brewski in a thread about dogmatism and empiricism, but he is particularly good form here…

  17. #18 by brewski on February 21, 2013 - 8:47 am

    Shane,
    So you are rejecting the evidence presented by the Harvard and Berkeley economists because you don’t like it? What was that you were just saying about dogmatism? Good form.

  18. #19 by Richard Warnick on February 21, 2013 - 9:33 am

    When they are wrong, they are wrong. Ask the British people about the effects of governmental austerity on top of an economic near-depression.

  19. #20 by brewski on February 21, 2013 - 1:10 pm

    Ask the Greek people about the effects of a governmental spending orgy.

  20. #21 by Richard Warnick on February 21, 2013 - 1:41 pm

    No, you can’t compare the USA to Greece. I know Greece is part of the tool kit you keep handy to derail discussions, but no.

  21. #22 by brewski on February 21, 2013 - 1:43 pm

    Sarah,
    Thank you for the example of dogmatism.

  22. #23 by Richard Warnick on February 21, 2013 - 2:52 pm

    Right-Wing Media Falsely Compare U.S. With Greece To Support Spending Cuts

    Check the facts. We’re not like Greece, and there is no need for austerity. You can’t budget-cut your way to prosperity.

  23. #24 by brewski on February 21, 2013 - 3:02 pm

    Media Matters? Tell me you linked that as satire.

  24. #25 by Richard Warnick on February 21, 2013 - 3:52 pm

    As fact. The satire, if that’s what it is, comes from the Faux News Channel.

    If you want to eliminate deficits, then recover the economy and raise taxes on the rich, corporations and Wall Street. Austerity is the wrong approach.

  25. #26 by brewski on February 21, 2013 - 4:16 pm

    Nice job changing the subject by refuting a point that not one person made on this thread. Is that your way of avoiding the truth that you don’t know shit about labor economics and that the Harvard and Berkeley researchers who do completely slap shitted your ignorant world view to smithereens?

  26. #27 by Richard Warnick on February 21, 2013 - 4:36 pm

    Ask me if I care about Harvard and Berkeley. They are wrong, that’s all that counts.

  27. #28 by brewski on February 21, 2013 - 4:44 pm

    Sarah,
    Thank you for another example of dogmatism.

  28. #29 by Richard Warnick on February 21, 2013 - 5:05 pm

    I don’t care if it comes from Harvard or Vatican City. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong.

  29. #30 by brewski on February 22, 2013 - 1:38 pm

    Sarah,
    Thank you for more examples of dogmatism.

  30. #31 by Shane Smith on February 22, 2013 - 2:43 pm

    This is the greatest thread ever!

    R: If something is wrong it is wrong.

    B: That is dogmatism!

    Pure awesome!

  31. #32 by brewski on February 22, 2013 - 8:20 pm

    DOGMATISM

    1: positiveness in assertion of opinion especially when unwarranted or arrogant

    2: a viewpoint or system of ideas based on insufficiently examined premises

    That pretty much defines Lefties. Unwarranted, arrogant, insufficiently examined premises.

  32. #33 by Shane on February 22, 2013 - 10:08 pm

    It is funny brewski, but Pretty much anyone with two brain cells to bang together would describe you as “unwarranted, arrogant, and holding I sufficiently examined premises.” Hell, that is your MO. You are pretty much a permanent Bryan Fisher nominee.

    Again. Pure awesome.

  33. #34 by brewski on February 23, 2013 - 6:06 am

    Except for my well researched, thoroughly supported and cited positions, yes.

    My MO is purely empiricism.

  34. #35 by Shane on February 23, 2013 - 8:31 am

    And that is why it is so funny. You are so blinded by your bias you can’t see how funny that is. You are what every move,entry searches for brewski, the true believer who sells the movement product so very well because he drank the koolaid first, with a willing smile…

  35. #36 by brewski on February 23, 2013 - 8:38 am

    Hmmm. I quote and link peer reviewed sources. You give me your feelings. That is indeed funny.

  36. #37 by Shane on February 23, 2013 - 9:18 am

    I must have missed the peer reviewed source for “brewski does research”

    AKA, looking through the above thread shows Richard posting evidence far more often than you. You posted nearly no evidence, and what you did link too, you almost certainly didn’t understand if history is any clue.

    In fact most of your posts are simple assertions with out even the good grace to narrow or clarify the claim, for example “Rubios facts are correct.”

    I am sure they are, in that if they are facts, they would be correct. However since Glen points to an actual tear down of the speech, and you make a blanket claim which is a mindless tautology… well a reasonable person would see how that might seem dogmatic of you.

    You wouldn’t, naturally. But a reasonable person would.

  37. #38 by Shane on February 23, 2013 - 9:30 am

    brewski :
    I will let the Harvard and Berkeley economists (as well as the OECD and other independent economists) know that they are just right wing hacks according to an uneducated blogger who only listens to people who parrot back to him what he already concluded based on his understanding of exactly nothing.

    This, is an example of which I speak. This is in fact a perfect discription of 95% plus of all brewski posts. Someone here posts noble prize winning economists, world renowned legal theorists, non-partisan accounting firms, etc etc, etc, and the normal brewski reply is “X is a partisan hack!”

    I guess that is a peer reviewed empirical source?

    But if I point out a simple logical point, I am posting “feelings”

    I pointed out that Richard stated that if something is wrong it is wrong, irregardless of who says it. This doesn’t need peer review. This doesn’t need a study. This is the most basic of logic claims. If X is untrue, it remains untrue even if Harvard, or Greenspan, or Krugman, or the Pope claim that it is.

    And your post was that a basic logic claim, irrefutable in all possible worlds, is dogmatism.

    I repeat, belly laugh level funny shit. Made all the more numerous that you don’t get the joke. Even when it is spelled out for you.

    Yet another thread I am forwarding to my philosophy friends. Sadly they won’t bet with me anymore on how fast you can turn an argument into a logic disaster. You were making me a good deal of money.

  38. #39 by brewski on February 23, 2013 - 10:15 am

    “Someone here posts noble prize winning economists, world renowned legal theorists, non-partisan accounting firms, etc etc, etc, and the normal brewski reply is “X is a partisan hack!””

    Actually no. Most of the time someone here states their feelings based on their feelings. Then they link to another blogger who then in turn links to a study from an advocacy group. When really pressed then they scurry and find someone who is an expert in something else like computer science and maybe history to opine on something they are not expert in. When I then present actual experts in this actual field from actual peer reviewed papers the reaction I get is based on someone’s feelings that they must be wrong because, well, they feel they are wrong.

    When worst comes to worst the someone quotes Krugman. When I point out that Krugman did list the Fed as being the main cause of the fiasco, which is what I have been saying all along and Krugman agrees with me on this, I am told that I am wrong and Krugman is wrong too, the Berkeley and Harvard economists are all wrong. Based on what at this point? Someone’s feelings. So Krugman is wrong, all the experts are wrong, and the bloggers and 25 year French majors are right. This is the example of which I speak.

    I repeat, belly laugh level funny shit

  39. #40 by brewski on February 23, 2013 - 10:16 am

    Please tell me you did not just use the word “irregardless”.

    Yet another thread I am forwarding to my educated friends.

  40. #41 by Shane Smith on February 23, 2013 - 11:20 am

    Two minor issues: First, when Krugman says the fed was a problem, he is not announcing that therefore everything the fed has ever done or will ever do is wrong. He is, most often referring to a particular instance. You need to stop conflating his particulars with your massive generalities.

    Second, you are projecting again. When you post your normal MO and claim everyone else is doing it, it isn’t a great argument. When you make fun of the bloggers and 25 year french majors, you forget that your degree is in anonymous coward on the internet. (What was your education in again anonymous coward?) When you post about how to get a job, you forget your own self described employment record is useless midlevel paper pusher who lost his job when the company went tits up because you are such a good judge of boss character. When you are proud that Krugman agrees with you, you forget that while he agrees with you on a single point in a limited way, he points out that your overarching theory is total bullshit believed only by the uneducated and the backward who cling to a Reagan trickle down theory. Which you claim doesn’t exist.

    PS, if I was concerned about an autocorrect by my phone being forwarded to your “educated friends” (speaking of belly laughs, your imaginary life is an endless source of entertainment) that would be a cutting remark…

    Or, the cliff note version, “Hey brewski! You are a plane! Cool! Will you go get some passengers in your play room and bring them back?”

  41. #42 by Richard Warnick on February 23, 2013 - 11:48 am

    brewski contends that Senator Rubio’s SOTU response was 100 percent true, and everything that contradicts Rubio’s lies is 100 percent false. But don’t accuse him of dogmatism.

  42. #43 by Shane on February 23, 2013 - 9:03 pm

    His little rant was so true he had liars cotton mouth and flop sweat. That is whatcha call authentic!

  43. #44 by brewski on February 23, 2013 - 9:29 pm

    Nice lie. I find it hard to believe that autocorrect inserted a word that is not standard English.
    The negative prefix ir- merely duplicates the suffix -less, and is unnecessary. The word is regarded as incorrect in standard English.

    • #45 by Shane on February 26, 2013 - 9:18 pm

      I find it hard to believe you can use a computer, but here you are.

      Oh look, irregardless is in the dictionary, and as such is also in common spell check. In fact if I type regardless with an accidental prefix of most any letter… Irregardless!

      …though before I completed the word us was suggesting oregano.

      But an even better question, ignoring your grammar nazism, aside from making fun of you for caring, why would I lie? If I did type it, it is in common usage. As a friend of mine comments about “meh” whenever it comes up, if your mind is so calcified that you care, you are exactly the kind of person whose opinion doesn’t even deserve a ‘meh.'”

      But then being a professional off topic ass is what you do, isn’t it? Is that what your degree was in?

  44. #46 by brewski on February 23, 2013 - 9:35 pm

    “Two minor issues: First, when Krugman says the fed was a problem, he is not announcing that therefore everything the fed has ever done or will ever do is wrong. He is, most often referring to a particular instance. You need to stop conflating his particulars with your massive generalities.”

    False.

    When Krugman was asked directly who was to blame specifically for the financial fiasco, his first answer was the Fed. This is what I said, this is what Krugman said, this is what the OECD said, this is what the other economists I linked above said. This is not fringe stuff.. It is accepted analysis by a lot of experts who know what they are talking about including Krugman. Inexplicably Richard and other keep saying it was not due to the Fed and they then refer to Krugman, who did say it was the Fed. One can only conclude that Richard and other uneducated people on this site don’t actually realize what Krugman said so they don’t know they are contradicting themselves and contradicting Krugman when they think they are supporting him. You wonder why I sound arrogant? The answer is that I know a whole lot about this stuff and very evidently Richard does not and you do not. I am sorry if truth hurts.

    • #47 by Shane on February 26, 2013 - 9:23 pm

      Yes, you sound arrogant because you know so much. Like how there is no such thing as trickle down economics and how “a wrong thing is a wrong thing whoever says it” is dogma.

      I wonder why we haven’t all accepted your wisdom by now…

      • #48 by brewski on February 27, 2013 - 4:20 pm

        There is no such thing as trickle down economics. There is trickle down propaganda and trickle down rhetoric and trickle down dogma. You are confessing that you don’t know the difference. But this is not surprising since you don’t know the difference between irregardless and regardless, lie and lay, and probably between all right and alright.

  45. #49 by brewski on February 27, 2013 - 11:08 am

    Richard said “They are wrong, that’s all that counts.” Not me. Thank you for proving he is the dogmatic one.

  46. #50 by brewski on February 27, 2013 - 3:50 pm

    In my view … it is impossible to understand this crisis without reference to the global
    imbalances in trade and capital flows that began in the latter half of the 1990s.
    –Ben S. Bernanke

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