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2012 June 07 Thursday
How Objective Are Economists?

Just came across this 2009 piece in the Huffington Post: Priceless: How The Federal Reserve Bought The Economics Profession. It gets at a question I wonder about more broadly: Who can be trusted to have motives that cause them to be objective, competent, uncorrupted, and honest? Who to listen to?

We need better ways to know who to listen to. Look at, say, prominent financial reporters. They've got huge incentives to be captured by the industries they report on. They need contacts. The contacts do not want negative stories about their firms or their industry. That cuts the value of a large number of financial reporters. Ditto reporters who cover government agencies, academia, and other areas. Plus, competence is a problem. Is the reporter who covers Goldman Sachs as smart as the investment banker who works for Goldman Sachs? Unlikely. If you are smart enough to get into Dartmouth and get a job offer from Goldman Sachs why become a much lower paid financial reporter?

We need better ways to find who to listen to. Got any ideas for how to do this?

By Randall Parker    2012 June 07 09:06 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2012 January 30 Monday
Conspiracy Minded Believe Contradictions

Some psychology researchers are engaged in a conspiracy to produce bogus research to discredit our opposition to rule by Lizard People.

Los Angeles, CA (January 25, 2012) - Distrust and paranoia about government has a long history, and the feeling that there is a conspiracy of elites can lead to suspicion for authorities and the claims they make. For some, the attraction of conspiracy theories is so strong that it leads them to endorse entirely contradictory beliefs, according to a study in the current Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE).

The Queen can believe six impossible things before breakfast. Does that make her a conspiracy theorist? I don't think so. The Queen does not theorize. She leaves that job to her scientific advisers.

People who believe conspiracy theories take a dimmer view of the government.

People who endorse conspiracy theories see authorities as fundamentally deceptive. The conviction that the "official story" is untrue can lead people to believe several alternative theories-despite contradictions among them. "Any conspiracy theory that stands in opposition to the official narrative will gain some degree of endorsement from someone who holds a conspiracist worldview," according to Michael Wood, Karen Douglas and Robbie Sutton of the University of Kent.

Clearly Barack Obama has only pretended to be a Muslim so he can hide his embrace of the god Thor.

These researchers purport to accept the official narrative on the death of Saint Diana, patron saint of fashion designers and other shallow people.

To see if conspiracy views were strong enough to lead to inconsistencies, the researchers asked 137 college students about the death of Princess Diana. The more people thought there "was an official campaign by the intelligence service to assassinate Diana," the more they also believed that "Diana faked her own death to retreat into isolation." Of course, Diana cannot be simultaneously dead and alive.

But the truth is obvious here and these researchers are just tools for the authorities. Diana had to fake her own death in order to escape from the intelligence service plot to assassinate her. That much is obvious. I realize my smart readers already know this (and some of you are reading this from Iran). But I want to state the obvious.

Diana (along with Liberace and Elvis) now works for the CIA in Iran where she helps the Iranian-US project to develop a secret weapon for use against China. Iran's defiance of the US is of course just a front to fool the Chinese. Everyone knows that. Of course the weapon's real purpose is to repel an invasion by Neanderthals from a parallel universe.

By Randall Parker    2012 January 30 11:32 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (20)
2012 January 29 Sunday
Domestic, Foreign Investors Split On US President Choice

A global poll of investors puts a new spin on Decision 2012: The US presidential election is shaping up as a battle between the preferences of domestic and foreign investors.

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. investors are rooting for Mitt Romney and those overseas are for Barack Obama. Newt Gingrich is generating little enthusiasm anywhere.

As Lou Pagnucco points out to me, no mention of Ron Paul. He's the invisible man. Even some commentators on the Left enforce orthodoxy against anyone on the Left taking Paul's ideas seriously. But US military people are donating more to Ron Paul than all other US presidential candidates combined. Paul's high support from the military speaks volumes about what the folks in uniform think about the center of debate about foreign interventions as conducted by mainstream media, special interests, and the two main political parties.

Imagine a United States in which only active and retired military could vote. We'd have a smaller government, less foreign involvement, and likely much better national security.

Update: I look at this coming election without enthusiasm. Most people don't know where their interests lie or how much trouble we are in economically. They don't understand the root causes of what is going wrong. Since policy choices that address root causes are not being debated we can't expect policy changes that will make things better. The two political parties and the mainstream media are dysfunctional.

By Randall Parker    2012 January 29 01:44 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2012 January 18 Wednesday
Euro-American Ruling Elites Get Trained Together

Can you say "cognitive sorting"?

For some, that trust has a common source: three of the six banks are led by economists who studied or taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Then, as now, the emphasis was on what former MIT professor and now Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer describes as “economics about the real world.”

Maybe the schools will specialize. Want a Secretary of State or Foreign Minister? Better make sure your country sent enough people to Harvard. Want a Treasury Secretary? Probably Dartmouth grads who spent time on Wall Street. Our last 2 Treasury Secretaries (Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) follow this mold. Though Geithner also has the chops to be Secretary of State with his time at Johns Hopkins and in China learning Mandarin and Chinese culture and history.

The full article gives more examples than I'm excerpting here. Its not just the central bank heads who studied together. Other officials on both sides of the Atlantic met in grad school.

At MIT, King, 63, and then-professor Ben S. Bernanke, 58, had adjoining offices in 1983, spending the early days of their academic careers in an environment where economics was viewed as a tool to set policy. Earlier, Bernanke and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, 64, earned their doctorates from the university in the late 1970s, Draghi with a thesis entitled “Essays on Economic Theory and Applications.”

With the Ivy League, MIT, and Stanford pulling in even more students from abroad than was the case in the 1970s and 1980s you can imagine what the next generation of elite officials will be like. They'll be able to do Harvard and MIT alumni reunions at G-8 meetings and other gatherings of elected and appointed high officials. They'll have to have Yale and Dartmouth dinners too. If only all this elite selection actually resulted in central bank officials who were less than totally clueless when in the middle of a huge real estate bubble about to burst. If only elite education translated into high competence.

So which schools should graduate social welfare cabinet secretaries? Can we just use Nobel Laureates to run Energy departments for now on? Should their alma mater figure in? Or just the Nobel?

By Randall Parker    2012 January 18 07:11 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (13)
2011 June 19 Sunday
Americans Do Not Want World Police Role

A message that the politically powerful don't want to hear.

"Being the world's policeman" is a phrase often used to suggest America is the nation chiefly responsible for peace and the establishment of democracy in the rest of the world. But just 11% of Likely U.S. Voters think that should be America’s role.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 74% disagree and say the United States should not be the world's policeman. Fifteen percent (15%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Americans are opposed to Team America: World Police.

This is not a recent decision on the part of Americans.

That’s virtually unchanged from findings in September 2009.

Unfortunately, the 9/11 attack has been used as a justification not only for invasion of a country unrelated to the attack but also for a general ramping up of federal power.

People on the levers of power are more into pulling those levers abroad.

Most voters share these views across virtually all demographic categories. But while 81% of Mainstream voters oppose the United States being the world's policeman, 30% of those in the Political Class feel it's the right role for America.

That link to the Political Class takes us to an August 2010 Rasmussen poll which illustrates the gap between the rulers and the ruled: 67% of Political Class Say U.S. Heading in Right Direction, 84% of Mainstream Disagrees. Speaks volumes.

By Randall Parker    2011 June 19 02:17 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
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