Paul Krugman asks:

Unusually, I’m having a vocabulary problem. There has to be some word for the kind of person who considers his mild discomfort the equivalent of torture, crippling injury, or death for other people. But I can’t think of it. What brings this to mind is this from Alberto Gonzales: I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror.

The answer to this query is one of my favorite phrases, pulled from psychiatry and often applied to investing. But its just as valid in the legal and political realm.

I typically use it to describe absurd and perplexing statements made sincerely.

The phrase is Cognitive Dissonance.

You can find technical definitions at Changing Minds, Wikipedia, and The Skeptics Dictionary. The way I use it somewhat modifies the classic definition, when applied to an economic or investing context (but it works just as well for politics).

Cognitive Dissonance occurs in the mind of an individual when a theoretical belief system is confronted by factual evidence demonstrating outcomes contrary to what theories dictate should occur.

Examples are many and varied: Deep value investors buying beaten up stocks with no regard to other risk factors, only too see them fall another 50%. Buy & Hold investors getting utterly demolished this year; Radical deregulation resulting in market mayhem being denied by its advocates as a root cause, especially with derivatives. Rather than question the theory — be they Investing or Economic — the person suffering from Cognitive Dissonance ignores the facts in front of their eyes or devises rationales for why the undesired outcome occurred, blaming other factors (but not their thesis).

A few recent classic examples:

• Blaming the housing boom and bust on the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 rather than an abdication of lending standards (See various posts);

• Phil Gramm denying deregulation had anything to do with the current crisis; (See A DeRegulator Unswayed)

• Blaming the population for being too gloomy (June 08), rather than questioning whether the low unemployment and inflation data where problematic (Are We Too Gloomy?)

• Amity Schlaes false definition of recession to maker the claim there was no economic contraction; (See Amity Shlaes Does Not Know What a Recession Is)

There’s more but you get the idea.

Cognitive Dissonance can lead to a politician appearing out of touch; recall John McCain’s The Fundamental’s of the Economy are Strong quote, which certainly did not help his campaign.

In investing, it can be downright deadly. Those who bought the Home Builders in 2005 had to ignore rising rates AND prices, inventory build and stagnant income. The purchasers of Banks in 2007 or Brokers in 2008 engaged in a similar risk denying approach.

There are many other forms of Cognitive Dissonance in investing and economics, it is one of those psychological factors that astute investors and traders must constantly be on the look out for. Those who are brutally honest with themselves and engage in a degree of introspection should be able to avoid its most pernicious effects.

>

Related:
The Psychology Behind Common Investor Mistakes (July 2005)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2005/07/the-psychology-behind-common-investor-mistakes/

Recessions Often Begin With Positive GDP Data (May 2008)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/05/recessions-often-begin-with-positive-gdp-data/

Who is Right: Professionals or the Populace ? (June 2008)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/06/who-is-right-professionals-or-the-populace/

Pervasive Pollyannas of Prosperity (June 2008)

http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/07/pervasive-pollyannas-of-prosperity/

Category: Investing, Psychology, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

53 Responses to “Vocabulary Problem: Cognitive Dissonance”

  1. VennData says:

    Brian Wesbury is saying that the stimulus plan is bad because it just means we have to pay for it down the road. But, he never thinks tax cuts are bad because we just have to pay for them down the road… in spite of all the evidence that Reagan’s and Bush’s tax cuts increased the deficits and debts in spite of his claims to the contrary.

    He needs some Brialys – or one of those competing “CD” drugs advertised on TV …to get the blood flowing to the parts that need it.

  2. pmorrisonfl says:

    > Those who are brutally honest with themselves and engage in a degree of introspection
    > should be able to avoid its most pernicious effects.

    I wish I could be brutally honest enough with myself. I find I need close friends to be brutally honest for me, at times.

    I wonder if this is an example of CD:
    Robert Samuelson writes in an op-ed: “Will Americans become so thrifty that they hamper recovery?”

    While I recognize the “paradox of deleveraging” here, isn’t it possible that healthy household balance sheets could be part of a recovery?

    Not that our current leaders see it that way.

    I wish you all the best in the year to come.

  3. danm says:

    With cognitive dissonance, there has to be an uncomfortable feeling. That’s the key.

    People can hold a world view that does not fit with reality, but if they don’t see it and don’t feel uneasy about the incongruence, there is no cognitive dissonace.

  4. I was fixin’ to post this:

    “I don’t expect merely flipping the page on the calendar is going to work any magic.”–BR

    contra to that Insight, the MSM has been, rather, full-throated is it’s: “That was 2008, that was Yesterday, That Nightmare is over”-meme projection..

    BR,

    You, and your efforts w/ TBP, have saved, as seen in the ‘Comments’ themselves, more than one Person, buckets of, still-valuable, fiduciary media..

    That, alone, probably the least of your achievements, should be considered a great Prize.

    Your willingness to speak Plainly– in the face of the withering torrents of obsfucation that, continually, assail us– alone, make you, simply, one of the Best.

    Let’s hope that some things don’t change in ’009..with that, We should all understand that we are, by our very Natures, conservat(-ives/-ors).

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/01/happy-2009/#respond

    in nearby thread, though, Here is a working example..

    past that,

    “I wish I could be brutally honest enough with myself. I find I need close friends to be brutally honest for me, at times.” from pm, above

    Here, too, though, that is what Good Friends are for. We all have Blind Spots, and with that, the, very, most of us, need the assistance of additional viewpoints to see, clearly, the big picture..

    further, with this:” ..isn’t it possible that healthy household balance sheets could be part of a recovery?”

    pm, certainly, and, more than ‘possible’, it has to be..and quite correct, contra to our (mis-)leaders, indebted People are not Free, for they can no longer afford the Liberty of Dissent..

  5. Bruce in Tn says:

    Cognitive Dissonance…very good term. Factual outcomes different from what is predicted or expected.

    Someone posted this earlier about the jobless claims…but it is worth re-examining..the headline number showed a decrease to 492k…very substantially less than the week before of 586k…but NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND…as you said Barry, ignore this week’s release…

    However, if you look at the Not Seasonally Adjusted numbers quite a different story emerges…

    The NSA initial claims are 507k, 629k, 716k, and for this week, 718k….

    So in 4 weeks, the NSA real numbers have increased 211,000….this is the week by week change, and it is very disturbing….perhaps the actual numbers suffer from cognitive dissonance, or perhaps the seasonally adjusted numbers do…I have my own ideas..

    http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/ui/eta20081873.htm

    Happy New Year

  6. danm says:

    perhaps the actual numbers suffer from cognitive dissonance
    ——————–
    cognitive dissonance is a feeling and numbers have no feelings.

  7. danm says:

    Cognitive dissonance makes you feel uneasy and usually forces you to make your world view jibe with the facts.

    For example if a murderer is unable to live with the fact that he did wrong, he will convince himself that his victim deserved to die.

  8. Mike in Nola says:

    Reminds me of something I said 4-5 years ago to an older, well-informed lawyer who asked why people weren’t upset about what was going on at home and abroad. I said people weren’t suffering enough and people wouldn’t wake up til they started suffering the consequences of our actions. Didn’t seem very profound at the time.

    This is all just another manifestation of the anti-scientific mentality of the age: it’s not what is, but what we’d like it to be. What was that famous line from one of the neocons about creating their own reality in Iraq?

    It can happen in either party to people who don’t like the hard work of really thinking. It has been a predominately Republican problem for awhile because they have been comfortable and their view of reality has been so comforting to them: they hate us because we are free; everyone should have a McMansion, visit Target every day for fingernail polish and drink $4 cups of coffee. The fact that they don’t actually produce anything to support this lifestyle and it’s all done on borrowed money is not something that they didn’t want to deal with and Rush, Hannity, et al, gave them easy answers.

    One can see a shift, though. One of my suburban sisters-in-law whose husband works for Shell had an Obama sign in her front yard this last time around. She got a lot of lectures from neighbors. I think the fact that she’s got an 18 year old son made her uncomfortable with an endless war. Of course, Obama’s campaign of “Hope” promised more of the same comfort the Republicans have been dispensing. Let’s hope he’s a deeper thinker than we think.

  9. Mike in Nola says:

    Sorry for all the typos. It’s too early for writing.

  10. Bruce in Tn says:

    danm:

    Yes, I agree. My point is that the MSM treated this last set of numbers as perhaps good news….the dissonance is the fact that the actual numbers were worse. Perhaps I should have made the point clearer that the MSM may be in fact promoting cognitive dissonance by not looking deeper into the numbers themselves. It is WE who are expected to dissociate the true employment facts from what was reported by the government. “Seasonally Adjusted”….reminds me of how the CPI is now calculated….

    As Sgt. Friday used to say,” Just the facts”…

  11. Jim M says:

    Barry, I think danm is right. It sounds more like a kind of solipsism that actually keeps the cognitive dissonance from happening. Cheers and happy new year

  12. VangelV says:

    How ironic, a man who has never been able to confront the outcomes in the real world from the predicted outcomes from his flawed theoretical belief system is lecturing others on cognitive dissonance. Krugman has been arguing that the lack of regulations and the free markets created the financial and social problems that we face today but has yet to show that we did have a free market and few regulations. The bottom line is that both the left and the right have their stories wrong. They have both argued that governments should meddle and have pushed aside those that support individual liberty and free markets to the sidelines.

    No matter how much Krugman wants to spin it, the simple fact is that the CRA did encourage lending to people who had no hope of paying off their debts. No matter what he writes it will not change the fact that Fannie and Freddie were government created entities that had their own regulator and that the regulator stood aside as both became the equivalent of government sponsored hedge funds.

    While there was a minor reduction in regulations during the latter part of the Clinton presidency there are many more regulations on the books today than they were when Bush took office. Both the left and the right have supported regulations that pick winners that would fail in a free market environment. When the winners fail because they could not survive without support from taxpayers or consumers it isn’t a failure of the market but of government policies that were supported by both the left and the right.

    It is also ironic that Krugman has supported political proposals to fight CO2 driven ‘global warming’ at a time when the scientific evidence clearly shows that we have had no global warming for a decade and that CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas that lags temperature trends and as such cannot be a cause.

    ~~~

    BR: WE HAVE A WINNER!!! I knew someone would exhibit CD in pushing back, and you take the prize.

    Its not that YOU or YOUR beliefs might possibly be wrong, its that EVERYONE else is.

    All of the scientists that do peer reviewed data driven research are wrong. In the face of radical deregulation, you claim there never really was a free market. Your answer to long term climate change is to point to recent weather. And the CRA? Huzzah for your unwavering belief in the Easter Bunny!

    I salute you sir, and your poor, overwrought wetware.

    Peace be with you . . .

  13. ottovbvs says:

    BR: To be fair there’s actually only one example of “real” cognitive dissonance amongst the four you quote and that’s Gramm’s. He really believes what he’s saying. The other examples are either political bs by Shlaes or others to deflect blame (CRA and there’s no recession) or some journalist trying to earn a crust on a morning when he’s suffering from writer’s block. Krugman’s example is probably accurate too, I’m sure Gonzales really believes he did nothing whatever wrong. The wider problem surely is that people peddle this tripe and many quite sensible Americans believe them. A friend of mine who is financially literate totally buys the CRA nonsense for example but then a lot of financially literate people bought Bernie Madoff’s story. One of the problems I think is that along with the decline in the readership of newspapers and network tv has been a decline in the quality of the journalism. Going back to the sixties mainstream pundits like Joe Alsop, Reston or Lippman could never get away with the sort of stuff we see today. They had a view put they gave it in the round and anything they said was highly researched and fact based. To be honest I can’t remember a lot of the financial journalism but my sense is that it was also very fact based. Even very partisan newspapers like the Chicago Trib which was run by Colonel McCormick at the time were very zealous about the accuracy of what they reported despite that very famous Truman headline.

    ~~~

    BR: I most generously gave them the benefit of the doubt. If they are simply god-damned liars, well, then fuck them all to hell.

  14. Bruce in Tn says:

    Actually danm, the murderer example, if we are discussing vocabulary, would fall under the definition of Rationalization..

  15. ottovbvs says:

    “VangelV Says:

    January 1st, 2009 at 9:54 am

    How ironic, a man who has never been able to confront the outcomes in the real world from the predicted outcomes from his flawed theoretical belief system ”

    Krugman is a Nobel laureate; former and no doubt future member of a presidential advisory panel; and one of the worlds leading authorities on exchange rate systems……………….and you’d be?

  16. danm says:

    For me, the subject of importing ideas from other fields is a touchy one because the world of finance has a strong history of doing this and distorting the theories.

    MPT is a perfect example. It was imported from the world of math and based on expected risk and expected returns. When our finance world adopted it, fast and furiously, it switched expected measures for historical ones. Using mathematics made us believe in the soudness of the models when in reality it was garbage in, garbage out.

  17. danm says:

    Bruce:

    Yes. The murderer gets the uneasy feeling that he’s done something wrong (he killed someones but he’s not a bad person) which is cognitive dissonance and then to make the uneasiness go away, in order to be able to live with himself, by rationalizing that the victim asked to die. Then he feels good again.

  18. dead hobo says:

    I would be among the first to agree that people are often in denial, and frequently blame others, for problems they caused or supported. However, you are still a little naive in that you appear to assume people are honest, but confused. Their confusion appears to be a lie, but is really a self defense mechanism tahat prevents them from accepting their own limitations or admitting them to others.

    Rather, I am a glass half empty person. You see cognitive dissonance. I see a lying psychopath who has the burden of proof of convincing me they are only weak of character. The average person is gullible and stupid and willing to believe the best of others unless said average person is asked to honestly confront their own persona. Then the average person usually become defensive and dangerous, but that is another story.

    A psychopath just sees you as someone who may have something to offer. Words are cheap and easy to come by. Thus, “it’s not my fault” works.

  19. danm says:

    But dead hobo, some might know more stuff than others but we all do it!

    Just the fact that you need to convince yourself of something is a sign that there is most probably cognitive dissonance to begin with!

    I could argue that as soon as you have more stuff than another, you will convince yourself that you deserved it. That need to convince yourself was probably triggered by cognitive dissonance and the stronger your cognitive dissonnce the stronger your conviction will be! Many others could easily find good reasons why you should not have more.

  20. Che Stadium says:

    The financial crisis is rooted in the loose monetary policy of a federal reserve that attempted to micromanage the economy…the crisis is rooted in not having enough government involvement in the economy.

  21. Bruce in Tn says:

    Disconnects about topics we’ve discussed here before..

    ShopperTrak suggested that the season would show a .1% increase in sales…we discussed this several days ago…the real numbers show a 2.3% decline..well, they only missed it by 2500% of what was predicted… (2.3 /.1= 23 times 100 for per cent=2300. And the positive .1 to -.1 adds another .2..giving a total of 2500)…

    The burden of proof now would be on the MSM and on ShopperTrak that this company’s press releases should ever be taken seriously again..

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/28451167

    Last-Minute Holiday Shopping Doesn’t Help Sales

    I wonder if the general public has any serious idea of what might lie ahead …of course the media trumpeting the ShopperTrak prediction was just good news reporting..

  22. Winston Munn says:

    In the political arena, what is most likely occuring is not cognitive dissonance but demagogy (or demagoguery).

    H. L. Mencken defined a demagogue as “one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”

  23. paulyarbles says:

    Some of discomfort comes from cognitive dissonance and some of the discomfort comes from the stress due to the increasing difficulty in trying to please those you know butter your bread. In other words, with respect to the latter reason, it’s getting harder and harder for many to justify policy positions that enrich their masters. Either way, cry me a f*cking river.

  24. cAPSLOCK says:

    After you’ve bought something the normal behavior is Cognitive Dissonance. Buyer’s remorse is nothing more than the purchaser feeling guilty that they’ve bought something they don’t need and can’t afford.

    Some people feel guilty about it and others build a psychological wall of cognitive dissonance to block the feeling of guilt.

    Optimists are more likely to indulge in cognitive dissonance because the truth hurts their optimistic view of the world. Optimism is generally thought of as a healthy way of thinking and an insufficient amount of optimism can even be thought of as un-American and a warning sign that one needs to see a therapist.

  25. otto, though the Topic was: Vocabulary, you may need to brush-up on Logic..

    see: Fallacy: Appeal to Authority

    ——————————————————————————–

    Also Known as: Fallacious Appeal to Authority, Misuse of Authority, Irrelevant Authority, Questionable Authority, Inappropriate Authority, Ad Verecundiam

    Description of Appeal to Authority
    An Appeal to Authority is a fallacy with the following form:

    Person A is (claimed to be) an authority on subject S.
    Person A makes claim C about subject S.
    Therefore, C is true.
    This fallacy is committed when the person in question is not a legitimate authority on the subject. More formally, if person A is not qualified to make reliable claims in subject S, then the argument will be fallacious.

    This sort of reasoning is fallacious when the person in question is not an expert. In such cases the reasoning is flawed because the fact that an unqualified person makes a claim does not provide any justification for the claim. The claim could be true, but the fact that an unqualified person made the claim does not provide any rational reason to accept the claim as true.

    When a person falls prey to this fallacy, they are accepting a claim as true without there being adequate evidence to do so. More specifically, the person is accepting the claim because they erroneously believe that the person making the claim is a legitimate expert and hence that the claim is reasonable to accept. Since people have a tendency to believe authorities (and there are, in fact, good reasons to accept some claims made by authorities) this fallacy is a fairly common one.

    Since this sort of reasoning is fallacious only when the person is not a legitimate authority in a particular context, it is necessary to provide some acceptable standards of assessment. The following standards are widely accepted:

    The person has sufficient expertise in the subject matter in question.
    Claims made by a person who lacks the needed degree of expertise to make a reliable claim will, obviously, not be well supported. In contrast, claims made by a person with the needed degree of expertise will be supported by the person’s reliability in the area.

    Determining whether or not a person has the needed degree of expertise can often be very difficult. In academic fields (such as philosophy, engineering, history, etc.), the person’s formal education, academic performance, publications, membership in professional societies, papers presented, awards won and so forth can all be reliable indicators of expertise. Outside of academic fields, other standards will apply. For example, having sufficient expertise to make a reliable claim about how to tie a shoe lace only requires the ability to tie the shoe lace and impart that information to others. It should be noted that being an expert does not always require having a university degree. Many people have high degrees of expertise in sophisticated subjects without having ever attended a university. Further, it should not be simply assumed that a person with a degree is an expert.

    Of course, what is required to be an expert is often a matter of great debate. For example, some people have (and do) claim expertise in certain (even all) areas because of a divine inspiration or a special gift. The followers of such people accept such credentials as establishing the person’s expertise while others often see these self-proclaimed experts as deluded or even as charlatans. In other situations, people debate over what sort of education and experience is needed to be an expert. Thus, what one person may take to be a fallacious appeal another person might take to be a well supported line of reasoning. Fortunately, many cases do not involve such debate. ..
    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-authority.html
    http://blogs.icerocket.com/search?tab=web&q=logical+fallacy+argument+from+authority

  26. I wish I could be brutally honest enough with myself. I find I need close friends to be brutally honest for me, at times.

    simple cure:

    Start a blog or post regularly on a busy one. Soon enough you’ll find a sizeable group of critics to keep you honest. (:

  27. debreuil says:

    They are “Masterbeaters”

  28. mcrcr4 says:

    Barry, good day.

    Common Man, in his comments above, beat me to the punch. Another effective way to recognize/overcome cognitive dissonance is three years of forced thinking in the alternative. But, because law school is not everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps a semester or two in high school would be a step in the right direction.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments over the last year. Your efforts have gone a long way toward making the world a better place. I hope the new year is all you and your family need it to be.

    Best regards,
    RF

  29. emmanuel117 says:

    Good post, Barry.

    Also, VangelV seems to embody your point…

  30. KJ Foehr says:

    We make the world with our mind; cognitive dissonance, selective memory, denial, defense mechanisms, and perception versus apperception are some of the ways we make it.

  31. patfla says:

    Cognitive dissonance is quite interesting in its own right.

    But as regards _felt_ pain. And that’s opposed to perceived pain let alone ‘real’ pain. I’ve always liked the following metaphor (of my own construction). We have a room inside us which for all people is essentially the same size. But pain is an invisible gas and that room fills with gas (pain) to differing levels of density. Maybe the room is the _capacity_ to feel pain and the gas is pain experienced.

    People outside you see the room – you feel the density of the gas pressing down upon you.

    I mean, I’m not particularly sympathetic to Alberto Gonzales and we needn’t go into all the details. But in order to generally understand other people and their ‘felt’ pain (no matter how sympathetic or unsympathetic we may be to it) it helps to move beyond perceived pain and have some sense of their felt pain.

    Again most of us are not sympathetic to it, but when the high and mighty fall (back possibly to relatively normal circumstances) they generally experience it badly and sometimes very badly. Something like that French investor in NY whose money was under Madoff’s management and who slit his wrists and killed himself.

    None of this is to condone (to our minds unmerited) felt pain. But it’s often helpful to understand other people. Say (in a different venue) their market behavior.

    Some of these thoughts have arisen over the years since I survived cancer.

  32. We make the world with our mind

    The world seems to be doing a good job of unmaking my mind.

    I’m running(thinking) as fast as I can though. I’ll either get a break….or break

  33. Mike says:

    Actually, you’re still a bit off.

    The type of person is a narcissist. The process involved inside a narcissitic personality is cognitive dissonance.

  34. patfla says:

    > With cognitive dissonance, there has to be an uncomfortable feeling. That’s the key.

    Not necessarily. How do you think 100s of millions of Russians, Chinese and others held to marxist leninism for so long. (China’s population was ‘only’ approx 500 ml at the time of the Communist victory [1949])

    Unfortunately it’s more complicated than that. Ideas have consequences. And they can have lives of their own. And they can be enforced (violently if necessary) on others.

    It’s not quite limited to ideas but here’s a though experiment. There are things in culture and society say 100 years ago – or even 50 – that we look back upon and say: “how the heck could they ever have though or behaved that way?”. “It makes no sense at all”. E.g. parts of the Am. zeitgeist in the 1950s.

    OK so go forward 50 or 100 years and look back at the present point-in-time. What things in our time will, from that vantage point, be considered utterly daft beliefs?

  35. patfla says:

    thought experiment

  36. KJ Foehr says:

    How the Common Man Sees It Says:

    “We make the world with our mind
    The world seems to be doing a good job of unmaking my mind.
    I’m running(thinking) as fast as I can though. I’ll either get a break….or break”

    Yes, your point gets to the crux of the issue: how to minimize “making” it, and instead to abide in the actual reality of it.

  37. RW says:

    What was striking about Alberto’s lament that he was a victim was how similar his position was to others in the Bush administration such as Monica Goodling: The country was not the central pivot of his oath or loyalty, that was given to Dubya, and to be punished for unswerving adherence to that faith must not only invoke a powerful cognitive dissonance it must verge on a psychotic break. From the increasing stridency (dare one say “shrillness”) in many of the conservative or right-wing responses to the crisis one senses a similar emotion but, fortunately, it’s a complex system and there are a lot of relatively easy excuses including some that are even rather plausible; e.g., there was really no “free market” so how could this be a failure of one (never mind that there has probably not been a free market in thousands of years or least since the invention of agriculture and a widely accepted medium of exchange)?

    One effect of social systems that tends to remain unremarked is their capacity to shield individuals from the consequences of erroneous belief. Back in the “good old days” if Og said, “I see a saber-tooth cat,” and Bog says, “quit fooling around and pick more roots,” either Bog gets eaten or Og gets a bad reputation. Things just aren’t that clear these days which is why I sympathize but generally do not agree with conservative libertarians: We need to be protected, particularly from ourselves, but sometimes there is a yearning to see or experience something unequivocally true and real; something short of driving off a cliff to check on the law of gravity one would hope, but there it is.

    OT regarding logic: Otto made no appeal to authority — he did not assert Krugman was correct solely by virtue of his standing in economics, he questioned whether the one criticising him had either sufficient knowledge or standing to do so much less make the rather bald, unsupported assertions about Krugman’s beliefs and positions s/he did — and a fallacy in informal logic does not automatically identify an argument as fallacious in any case; unlike predicate logic it merely identifies a flaw that suggests caution may be warranted vis-a-vis an argument’s conclusion.

    For example in VangelV’s original statement (that Otto questioned) we are presumably supposed to question or reject a number of positions, from CRA’s role in the financial crisis to global warming (sic), because Krugman (ironically) appears to believe them to be true when, according to VangelV at least, they clearly are not. Now there are a number of flaws including begging the question, argument from ignorance, ad hominem, straw man, non sequitur, doggedness and ad nauseam (repetition), selective observation (cherry picking), error of fact and hypotheses contrary to fact in VangelV’s stream of consciousness post but it’s just a blog comment and citing rules of logic is rarely appropriate even in more formal conversation so …(shrug) who cares?

  38. donna says:

    VangelV there provided a classic example. ;^)

    And one of my calls for years now is to bring back the sabre toothed tigers. Or failing that, to gift every 16 year old boy with a Ninja bike and an open stretch of twisty mountainous road.

    My son’s response to the second was, “I would sell the bike”. ;^)

  39. RW,

    otto goes with: “Krugman is a Nobel laureate; former and no doubt future member of a presidential advisory panel; and one of the worlds leading authorities on exchange rate systems..”

    and, proffers nothing else to speak to Vangel’s observation..

    it is, by itself, =~ There are degrees and areas of expertise. The speaker is actually claiming to be more expert, in the relevant subject area, than anyone else in the room. There is also an implied claim that expertise in the area is worth having. For example, claiming expertise in something hopelessly quack (like iridology) is actually an admission that the speaker is gullible.
    http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#falseauth

    past that, it’s a cheap trick, engaged in, by the dishonest..

  40. KJ Foehr says:

    @Donna,

    Your posts smack of serious substance, but I wish you would flesh them out a little for the slow among us, specifically me. A classic example of what? Cognitive dissonance? What makes Krugman any more classic than Gonzales, Gramm, or Schlaes? Or any other person? We can all be criticized for such things when viewed through the prism of another person’s values, attitudes, and beliefs.

    And what is the purpose of the STT or the Ninja bikes and mountain roads, to reduce the male population?

  41. patfla says:

    > And what is the purpose of the STT or the Ninja bikes and mountain roads, to reduce the
    > male population?

    Presumably just the most reckless of them. Which she points out does not include her son. And the sabre tooth tiger would ‘kind of’ provide the same, um, benefit except that it’s a less discriminating mechanism.

  42. mark says:

    I find that Yiddish often fulfills the need where English fails. The correct adjective required for Mr. Gonzales is chutzpahdik.

    As for the chutzpadik VangelV: Like the boy who kills his parents and then asks for leniency on the grounds that he is an orphan, VangelV needs a remedial course in logic. If CRA loans were subprime then the CRA caused the subprime lending crisis goes VangelV’s (and the the rightwing noise machine’s) logic. Evidence? Facts? Not needed. Gov’t is bad. CRA was a gov’t program. Therefore the CRA is the source of the problem. Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

  43. patfla says:

    Always like Yiddish – my father grew up in the S. Bronx (in the 30s and 40s when the Grand Concourse was still the ‘Grand’ Concourse etc). (yrs later in the 70s, the family was taking a vacation and we driving on top of the Cross-Bronx Expressway. My father pointed. “down there is where I grew up. It’s now called Fort Apache”).

    Anyway mark, I would assume chutzpadik to be (linguistically) related to chutzpah. Which I’ll take to be roughly ‘brazenness’. So provided that’s all correct, how do we get from brazen to someone how feels (we believe without justification) sorry for themselves?

    I think I can dimly make out a conceptual connection. But that’s according to an English-language sensibility – not Yiddish.

  44. patfla says:

    wait a minute – I think I get it.

    To feel (unjustifiably) sorry for yourself _is_ a kind of brazenness.

    Although this considerably expands my conceptual universe as regards what I thought to be the relatively isolated word chutzpah.

  45. KJ Foehr says:

    @patfla

    http://wordlist.com/chutzpadik.htm

    Thanks for your input on SST and Ninja bikes; that’s similar to my take on it too, but I still don’t get the purpose. Perhaps she sees it as a way to eliminate those among us susceptible to CD, but why only boys?

  46. mark says:

    patfla:

    I think you got it. Mr. Gonzales was being interviewed by reporters for the WSJ for an article that he knew would be published, read and, presumably, influence those reading it.

    Too me, cognitive dissonance is too kind as it suggests sincerity on his part. Perhaps he really is that stupid but I think that lets him off the hook.

  47. AGG says:

    Great comments! Barry, I loved your answer to the “winner” of the CD prize for today.

    It’s invigorating to see this issue discussed. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is that CD eventually leads to severe disfunction. The Sheep in one CD experiment began to lose control of body functions. Hencc the victims of CD, when they realize they’ve been had, can go berserk. Alberto Gonzales is a con artist. These guys don’t live in a kool-aid world; they try to make everyone else live there. So I don’t think he has CD. I think he is just twisting and turning as snakes do to avoid accountability. He is fully aware of what he has done. As to the decent people that believed in the kool-aid only to cling perversely to the Bush EngSoc( orwellian self contradictory speech), these are suffering CD, as they “switch off” from too much reality, a lot of violence could result.
    My own view of this CD kool-aid in my family (they are all reptilians and some are fundis) is that they functioned in a reactionary way to relativism and scientific concepts of randomness as applied to society. They resisted the idea that life is a crap shoot. Then their heroes are exposed as two faced gamblers posing as men of integrity. These gamblers then had the balls to call the liberals a threat to society by accusing the liberals of wanting exactly what the gamblers really stood for and were actively doing. It’s enough to drive anyone nuts. Yep. Lots of CD. The idea that if you do the crime, you should do the time used to be a conservative one. This is step one in fixing our society. Step one would heal the victims of CD and give them hope. Hope breeds confidence. Confidence reduces risk aversion. Prudent risk taking and due diligence isn’t that hard. We can do it. The world can do it. If we succeed, we’ll have a healthy society and will colonize the stars. If not, earth will look like Dantooine (desert smuggler planet in Star Wars).

  48. Tom K says:

    BR said “All of the scientists that do peer reviewed data driven research are wrong. ”

    So if I disagreed with 31,072 American scientists (including 9,021 PhDs) who believe the effects of global warming to be insignificant or benign, that wouldn’t be cognitive dissonance?

    http://www.petitionproject.org/gwdatabase/GWPP/Review_Article.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_mainstream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming

  49. leftback says:

    At times like this, Barry may wish some would stick to commenting on the markets. Some of the psychobabble here would embarrass the Fox News Channel.

    I hate to be irritating but if you are going to quote Orwell, can’t you at least do it correctly? EngSoc was presumably “English Socialism” (intended by Orwell to connote a form of Marxism). What I think AGG means, in the context of cognitive dissonance and the Bush administration, is “doublespeak”.

    We have 19 more days of the Bush administration, one of the most incompetent and lawless of all US governments in history. The lack of protest during the Bush regime was a consequence of relentless fear-mongering and intimidation. I believe we will see more open political discussion and less apathy among Americans in the future. Let us hope that the page is not turned without some investigation of the prepetrators of at least some of the extensive criminality of the Bush years.

  50. VangelV Says:

    January 1st, 2009 at 9:54 am
    How ironic, a man who has never been able to confront the outcomes in the real world from the predicted outcomes from his flawed theoretical belief system is lecturing others on cognitive dissonance. Krugman (from BR: In the face of radical deregulation, you claim there never really was a free market. )has been arguing that the lack of regulations and the free markets created the financial and social problems(again, In the face of radical deregulation, you claim there never really was a free market. ) that we face today but has yet to show that we did have a free market and few regulations(again, In the face of radical deregulation, you claim there never really was a free market. ). The bottom line is that both the left and the right have their stories wrong. They have both argued that governments should meddle and have pushed aside those that support individual liberty and free markets to the sidelines.

    No matter how much Krugman wants to spin it, the simple fact is that the CRA did encourage lending to people who had no hope of paying off their debts. No matter what he writes it will not change the fact that Fannie and Freddie were government created entities that had their own regulator and that the regulator stood aside as both became the equivalent of government sponsored hedge funds.

    While there was a minor reduction in regulations during the latter part of the Clinton presidency there are many more regulations(again, In the face of radical deregulation, you claim there never really was a free market. ) on the books today(again, In the face of radical deregulation, you claim there never really was a free market. ) than they were when Bush took office. Both the left and the right have supported regulations that pick winners( again, In the face of radical deregulation, you claim there never really was a free market. ) that would fail in a free market environment. When the winners fail because they could not survive without support from taxpayers or consumers it isn’t a failure of the market but of government policies that were supported by both the left and the right(again, In the face of radical deregulation, you claim there never really was a free market. ).

    It is also ironic that Krugman has supported political proposals to fight CO2 driven ‘global warming’ at a time when the scientific evidence clearly shows that we have had no global warming for a decade and that CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas that lags temperature trends and as such cannot be a cause.
    http://www.petitionproject.org/gwdatabase/GWPP/Review_Article.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_mainstream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming

    ~~~

    BR: WE HAVE A WINNER!!! I knew someone would exhibit CD in pushing back, and you take the prize.

    Its not that YOU or YOUR beliefs might possibly be wrong, its that EVERYONE else is.

    All of the scientists that do peer reviewed data driven research are wrong. In the face of radical deregulation, you claim there never really was a free market. Your answer to long term climate change is to point to recent weather. And the CRA?( BR, you must have friends in Comm. Banking, ask them if they pay a Premium for CRA-compliant Notes Bundles that exhibit lower than expectable(which is higher than avg., to begin with) default rates) Huzzah for your unwavering belief in the Easter Bunny!

    I salute you sir, and your poor, overwrought wetware.

    BR,

    take it EZ on the ‘Ink Blots’

    as you say,
    Peace be with you . . .

  51. danm says:

    I believe we will see more open political discussion and less apathy among Americans in the future. Let us hope that the page is not turned without some investigation of the prepetrators of at least some of the extensive criminality of the Bush years.
    ——
    Not sure. I want to believe so but it looks more and more like the US is walking on a thin line, leaning more towards a South American model where individuals don’t have much freedom to protest. The long term consequence of using shock and awe across the world is that it has maybe been mastered well enough to now be used at home.

  52. Lynn says:

    I believe the word(s) Krugman is looking for is Drama Queen.

  53. wunsacon says:

    I can see it now: Pinochet was a victim of Latin American instability in the 70′s.

    Where else can we apply the Alberto Gonzales defense?