Some begin to wake

A commenter at Megan McArdle’s suddenly begins to grok:

No, the credit crisis has significantly changed my political views. Before, I thought that Ron Paul was a crackpot, that mainstream economists were generally on top of things, and inflation and fractional reserves were healthy and normal aspects of the economy. Now I believe that Ron Paul was mostly right, mainstream economists have systematic blind spots, and consistent inflation is corrosive. I have essentially turned from a Megan McArdle libertarian to a Murray Rothbard/Mencius Moldbug libtertarian.

What I find interesting is that despite the fact that pretty much all of my economic contrarianism has been more than justified by recent events and the more mainstream economists have been shown to have been completely and utterly wrong, just as I have been writing for more than seven years, the large majority of readers are still turning to those who were completely wrong about the situation to explain it to them now. This is as stupid and as unlikely to be effective as, well, turning to expert Wall Street financiers to fix the failure of the Wall Street financial system.

I have to disagree, however, with McArdle’s thought for the day: “Isn’t it marvelous how the financial crisis has been caused entirely by things that you were opposed to before the crisis happened?”

Now, I’m opposed to the Green Bay Packers. I’m opposed to Manchester United. I’m totally and utterly opposed to Juventus and Bayern Munich. I’m also opposed to the Federal Reserve, fiat currency, and politically-driven financial incentives to commit economic insanity. But one would have to be truly and deeply stupid to fail to recognize that the latter three were primary contributors to the credit meltdown regardless of whether one approved of those things or not. That being said, she’s largely correct here: “The Paulson plan is not a plan. It’s a plan to maybe have a plan at some unspecified point in the future. The basic idea seems to be that we give the Fed a big pot of money, which it hands over to banks in exchange for illiquid securities. Essentially, we’re recapitalizing the banks with federal money.”

No, it’s not federal money. It’s money that belongs to American individuals. But it’s true, it’s not a plan, it’s an attempted robbery under the color of crisis.

The irrationality of faith in reason

These scientific studies are one reason I find the atheist enlightenmentals and their irrational belief in reason as a logical basis for ordering society to be so amusingly ironic:

Saying that correcting misinformation does little more than reinforce a false believe is a pretty controversial proposal, but the claim is based on a number of studies that examine the effect of political or ideological bias on fact correction. In the studies, volunteers were shown news items or political adverts that contained misinformation, followed by a correction. For example, a study by John Bullock of Yale showed volunteers a political ad created by NARAL that linked Justice John Roberts to a violent anti-abortion group, followed by news that the ad had been withdrawn. Interestingly, Democratic participants had a worse opinion of Roberts after being shown the ad, even after they were told it was false.

Over half (56 percent) of Democratic subjects disapproved of Roberts before the misinformation. That rose to 80 percent afterward, but even after correcting the misinformation, 72 percent of Democratic subjects still had a negative opinion. Republican volunteers, on the other hand, only showed a small increase in disapproval after watching the misinformation (11 percent vs 14 peercent).

Along those lines, a pair of political scientists, Brendan Nyhan of Duke and Jason Reifler of Georgia State, have shown a similar effect, this time concerning misinformation surrounding the presence of WMDs in Iraq, tax cuts, or stem cell research. Participants were shown news reports that contained inaccuracies, followed by a correction. The news reports were not real, but were presented to the volunteers as coming from either the New York Times or Fox News. Again, the findings suggest that facts that contradicted political ideology were simply not taken in; if anything, challenging misbelief with fact checking has the counterintuitive effect of reinforcing that misbelief.

Of course, one has to consider the source. The idea that the news media is a reliable source of facts is in itself a very questionable assumption. Given the vast panoply of inaccuracies reported by both the New York Times and Fox News, a refusal to accept their reporting as fact is a logically defensible position. I further note that these material reductionists often staunchly cling to a belief in the supreme importance of “equality”, a manifestly non-existent immaterial object.

Also, declaring a belief in Obama’s Muslim faith to be an example of being misinformed is pretty poor example. There is, after all, considerable reason to doubt the media attempts to define his faith for him, especially considering that the man has publicly referred to “my Muslim faith”. Perhaps it was, as George Stephanopolis helpfully suggested, a misstatement. And perhaps it wasn’t.