Hoisted/Smackdown: Yes, Noam Chomsky Is a Liar. Why Do You Ask?

Monday Smackdown: Epistemic Intellectual Bankruptcy Edition: Paul Krugman/Matt O'Brien/Niall Ferguson

I think Paul Krugman puts his finger on the decline of Niall Ferguson here: Paul Krugman: _"What we have here is an example of a phenomenon I've seen a number of times: the doom loop of hackery...

...It starts when a guy who actually does have something to offer, like an academic reputation based on real work, decides to expand his horizons by being cleverly contrarian:

Matt O'Brien: This is possibly the dumbest thing Niall Ferguson has ever written: he thinks Donald Trump might be the new Caesar Augustus, and that blowing up the liberal international order is worth it to keep China’s economy from growing so much...

Niall Ferguson: Yes, there is much to be said in principle for an international order based on explicit rules; and yes, those rules should favor free trade over protectionism. But if in practice your liberal international order has the consequence that China overtakes you, first economically and then strategically, there is probably something wrong with it.... The Trump presidency is that it holds out probably the last opportunity the United States has to stop or at least slow China’s ascendancy.... Trump’s approach to the problem, which is to assert American power in unpredictable and disruptive ways, may in fact be the only viable option left...

Paul Krugman: This contrarianism always involves shocking liberal pieties, never conservatives. Funny how that works.

Anyway, pretty soon it turns out that the contrarianism wasn't clever—it was simply ignorant; the liberal pieties were there because they were, well, true. You could do what some of us do when we get it wrong: admit the mistake, and try to learn from it. But our emerging hack won't do that, perhaps because his ego is too fragile. Instead, he doubles down, trying to regain his footing by becoming even more dumbly contrarian

And the further out he goes, the more he reveals that he has no idea what he's talking about. Misunderstandings of macro become claims that inflation is really 10%, then that Keynes didn't care about the future because he was gay, and so on. And in current circumstances, this ends up with once-respectable thinkers becoming Trump cultists. Because of course it does...


#shouldread

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