Liveblogging World War II: April 18, 1943
Europe Fails to Learn the Lessons of History: Notes on Political Union for Barry Eichengreen's "Future of the Euro" Conference, as Delivered

Thursday Countertrolling the Trolls Weblogging: Noah Smith vs. the Hax of Sol III:

Screenshot 2 5 13 9 46 AM

Noah Smith:

Feigning stupidity is often an effective tactic in an argument, especially when your opponent is interested in explaining an actual idea…. I've used the tactic once or twice myself… to frustrate and exasperate a comparative literature major….

Hans Hermann-Hoppe thinks Paul Krugman is the Comp Lit major - a serious, sober, do-gooding nerd type - and all he has to do to score a win is make Krugman mad. Actually, it's probably more than that; he probably thinks that because the audience for these debates is (in his mind) mostly ignorant simpletons, that if he acts like an ignorant simpleton, he will resonate with the audience - he will seem to them to be one of their tribe - and Krugman will seem like an alien outsider, with his equations and his thought experiments and his other nerdy nerd stuff. "Go home and play with your slide rule, nerd! We Cool Guys know that printing little pieces of paper can never make a country richer! High five!"

Screenshot 2 5 13 10 09 AM

However, "Triple H"… [is] using a trolling technique that is optimized for dorm-room BS-ing sessions, not for the modern media. The world of the modern media… allows greater use of counter-trolling techniques, optimized for putting foolishness on the spot. Consider the following analogues to Triple H's argument:

Explain how you can possibly cure diseases by eating little capsules filled with mold. If this were the case, couldn't we all be perfectly healthy just by letting our fruit sit in a closet for a week before we eat it?

Explain how you can possibly float just by heating up the air in a balloon. If this were the case, couldn't our tea kettles levitate?

Explain how you can possibly stay healthy by washing your hands with water. If this were the case, wouldn't people who drank out of rivers never get sick?

Explain how you can possibly generate energy by touching two chunks of metal together. If this were the case, couldn't we power the world with a steel welding plant?…

Another difference between modern media and dorm-room discussions is that we can link to stuff. For example, here's Paul Samuelson's famous 1958 paper on the "social contrivance of money". And I can also quote excerpts from that paper:

We then find this remarkable fact...society by using money will go from the non-optimal… configuration to the optimal… configuration…. [T]he use of money itself can be regarded as a kind of social compact…

And I can also observe that this paper is incredible famous, and I can ask Triple H (and Michael Shedlock): Why don't you know this paper? And I can also observe that this paper is very mathematically easy, and I can ask Triple H and Michael Shedlock: Why can't you do some simple algebra?

…See what I did there?…

In the modern media, see, people have a little more time to read over the arguments, and think about them, than in a college dorm. Not a lot more, but a little more. (They are also considerably less stoned. I hope.) This little bit of extra time and thought allows us, after listening to Triple H and Michael Shedlock, to say: "Wait… Simply refusing to exert the mental effort to understand Krugman does not constitute a rebuttal of Krugman. 'I am dumb, therefore you are wrong' is actually a pretty silly thing to say."