Monday, December 31, 2012

Now this is rich

I thought the whole point of betting on predictions was to weed out BS and test theories.

Now when people actually propose that some of that actually goes on Bryan Caplan - a big advocate of economic blog betting - finds it "frankly deplorable" and calls it "cackling with glee" instead of... you know... just hoping that betting will do what you all think it will do.



  1. "Bayes's Rule!? We don't need no stinking Bayes's Rule!!"


  2. Thus one learns no one is ever wrong, only "early".

  3. I don't think you're reading Bryan correctly here. He is clearly admonishing the less-than-gentlemanly conduct of some commentators, not their desire to see Bob Murphy change his mind. He even quotes the line from his "Bettor's Oat" about treating his opponent honorably. And on that point, he is quite right. While Paul Krugman and Brad De Long may be correct in using the bet to try to change Bob Murphy's mind, their posts on the matter don't seem to have been exemplars of courtesy. They seem too eager to attribute any disagreement by Bob Murphy to intellectual dishonesty or closed-mindedness as opposed to the fact that there are multiple explanations available to Bob Murphy to revise his views with.

    Also, I don't think the idea of betting is that if you loose, you immediately drop your theory in favor of your opponent's. (Much less some third-party's theory as Brad De Long is suggesting Bob Murphy do) If that were the case, Bob Murphy and David Henderson could have bet with each other that the loser would stop blogging and sit at the winner's feet for 5 years in order to gain enlightenment. The idea of betting is that it gives you a more concrete reason to try to get things right before you make the bet. The fact that you bet on a particular piece of data doesn't in and of itself give that piece of data more weight when evaluating your theory. (Relative to the baseline of looking at your theory and the data that is.) It's all about the incentives.

    1. re: "Also, I don't think the idea of betting is that if you loose, you immediately drop your theory in favor of your opponent's"

      I am constantly amazed at how seriously people take DeLong's hyperbole. I do not think there is any expectation of actually chanting Krugman's name. Brad has recognized valuable contributions in the past. The point is, will Bob revisit any of it?

      Brad also did not actually think the people he was highlighting were the "stupidest people in the world".

      I think Bryan is being ridiculous if he thinks there's anything discourteous about these posts. They were very reasonable and for me at least Bryan's betting enthusiasm loses a lot of credibility with complaints like this.

    2. I do not think there is any expectation of actually chanting Krugman's name.

      I think Bob actually chants Krugman's name in Voodoo rituals on a regular basis anyways. ;)

      I do realize that DeLong is being hyperbolic. I don't think there is anything discourteous about telling Bob Murphy he needs to change his world view and adopt Krugman's. My comments regarding courtesy have to do with Krugman (DeLong made a similar comment but I admit that it has some other more charitable interpretations) implying that Bob Murphy believes what he believes because he is close-minded, stubborn or intellectually dishonest. "Being willing to learn matters. Unfortunately, that willingness seems absent from many people who consider themselves economic experts."

      Perhaps I'm naive or foolish, but I think it would be possible for Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman to tell Bob Murphy that this latest data-point is evidence of him being wrong without implying that disagreement with them is a sign of being unwilling to learn rather than a sign of having found an alternative reasonable explanation for that latest data-point.

    3. I always knew that Krugman was the head of some religious group. All hail Krugman!! All hail Krugman!!

      PrometheeFeu: Well, it is somewhat deeper than that; if your description is accurate basically Krugman is arguing that he can see inside Bob Murphy's head and tell you exactly what his motivations are. Which is frankly a non-sense claim (but one which pundits - and I emphasize the term pundits here - like to throw against the wall to see which walls it will stick to for some reason).

    4. I think it's a simple case of Krugman being fanatical and concluding that the only options are agreeing with him, ignorance, stupidity and dishonesty. That's basically the same reason I don't read Don Boudreaux much anymore and that's also why I liked the concept of the ideological Turing test. Once you can really walk through somebody else's argument, you'll often realize that even if you think they are dead wrong, they are not necessarily stupid, ignorant or liars. They might just have a different view of the same information you're looking at.

    5. PrometheeFeu,

      I like how you put things. I can agree with that. Yeah, looking at Cafe Hayek (which is mostly a Don Boudreaux outfit anymore from what I can tell) often makes me feel naughty.

      Hume in his political writings repeatedly makes the point that political viewpoints are opinion largely based on our imagination - that's as true today IMO as it was in the 18th century. That way of seeing things should make one as skeptical of your own viewpoints as that of anyone else.

  4. Ahh, I'm with Pro here. Your reading here is way, way off here.


All anonymous comments will be deleted. Consistent pseudonyms are fine.