Food Mouth Chew
April 29, 2011, 2:05 am
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Just answering the person who found my blog by googling “how eat”.

Sonic Learns Remedial Econ II
April 25, 2011, 2:01 pm
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(see Part I)

Matthew Yglesias writes,

So when gas prices get more expensive, spending on gasoline booms. With households credit-constrained, that means huge cutbacks in spending on things that aren’t gasoline. That becomes a huge hit to aggregate demand, and a big drag on our economy.

I still don’t understand how Matthew Yglesias thinks he is using the phrase ‘aggregate demand’.

When I buy gasoline, that’s C. If gasoline gets more expensive, so I have to spend $100 more on gasoline, Matthew is pointing out that I’ll feel like I have $100 less to spend on other stuff. But that other stuff is also C. Simultaneously increasing and decreasing C by the same amount, while leaving all other variables constant (which I assume Matthew is mentally doing, because he is perennially too lazy to do otherwise), has no effect on AD whatsoever, by definition.

Unless he’s making the (more complex) claim that having to spend more on gasoline not only removes that money from possible use on other goods, but also changes our behavior in a substantive way (through a ‘wealth effect’ or whatever) so as to reduce our consumption on everything. I see no such claim there though.

I suppose what he’s saying makes more sense if you consider gasoline to axiomatically consist entirely of imports (M), because higher imports (all else constant) does indeed reduce AD. But maybe I pay for that $100 more gasoline by buying fewer Toyotas (which is also an import), so again, the net effect on AD is nil. Does Matthew know or has he investigated which sort of substitution effects are dominant here? Anyway, if one is concerned about the effect on AD of increasing M in this way, how about just allowing for more domestic oil exploration and harvesting. Voila, that M becomes C, AD increases automatically, and Matthew Yglesias should be ecstatic.

The larger issue is that this AD-obsessed analysis seems spurious and doesn’t add anything whatsoever to the discussion. I’m perfectly able to see that us having to spend more money on gasoline hurts us economically and is a drag on our economy without bringing AD into the discussion. At most, if this ‘imports reduce AD‘ complaint means anything, I think it just reduces to mercantilism. Is all of Keynesianism like this? Spurious definitions and analyses that reduce to a bunch of economics that was already widely known centuries ago? Or is this just a case of an amateur Keynesian applying the only ‘hammer’ he has in his arsenal (“aggregate demand”) to every economic problem he sees?

Organic Food
April 24, 2011, 9:40 pm
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I eat only organic food. I just don’t understand people who would ever put any non-organic food in their bodies. But me, I make sure that everything I put in my body (my temple) is 100% pure organic.

People clamor to know why. What I want to know is, why not, what’s wrong with you? I’m really not sure why you skeptics think it’s acceptable to eat foods comprised of silicon-based compounds in the first place, but as for me, it’s carbon-compounds all the way.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to McDonald’s to get me a nice organic quarter pounder or two. Mmm.

Why I Don’t “Believe In Science”
April 24, 2011, 9:32 pm
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Steve Sailer links to an article about ‘why we don’t believe science’, complaining of their token example of putative left-centered science disbelief (vaccines causing autism) is a far less obvious one than (something racial, I guess).

All fair enough, but what about the other examples. Like global warming. Are they even valid in the first place?

It appears to be taken for granted that belief in global warming-requiring-social-policy-overhaul is ‘science’, and lack of said belief is not. My problem with this is that the vast, vast majority of people who ‘believe in global warming’ know none of the science to speak of (and no, I don’t count muttering something about ‘carbon’ and being able to draw arrows going in a circle from the sky to the ground to the sky as ‘knowing the science’). Most such people – and this seems especially true of the vocal ones – did not come to this belief by studying the science, knowing the science, critically evaluating the science, questioning the science, or anything of the sort. Instead, they (most of them) essentially adopted the belief because people they trust and ally with politically believe in it.

Which is okay by itself to an extent, but it ain’t science, and people who form views this way don’t get to claim the science mantle. I would even go so far as to say that ‘believing in science’ itself is anti-science. True scientists don’t ‘believe in science’, they practice science (which is a very different activity) and provisionally accept what appears to be its latest best explanations (while remaining always ready to critique and find flaws in them).

This suggests a weaker and more careful way to phrase what (I guess) it’s implied we’re all meant to do, which is just to say that we’re supposed to provisionally accept the current best scientific explanations of our world. Maybe that’s what ‘believing in science’ is supposed to mean. Fine. The problem there, though, is that it’s just assumed by our self-anointed Defenders Of Science that ‘our best explanations’ of the climate all point towards greenhouse-gas-driven AGW. I say assumed because, again, they don’t actually know that. How could they, when (again) they don’t know the science?

Ultimately, the problem I have with Defender-Of-Science thinking is that it seems to absolve its adherents of any responsibility to actually know the science. Instead all they have to do is point to some Scientist saying something they found politically convenient and say ‘I believe him’. In this way, it’s completely anti-scientific and hinders actual progress in peoples’ scientific thought. It’s all well and good (and correct) to say that we can’t all be experts on the chaotic chemistry- and physics-driven equations that govern the oceano-atmospheric system, but this doesn’t make it okay to just walk around saying ‘I believe in science’. If you know jack squat about the science then you have no basis whatever for even knowing, let alone going around declaring, what ‘the science’ even says in the first place. In that context, what exactly is it that you are even ‘believing’?

This is particularly so for a topic that becomes politicized, as ‘global warming/climate change’ indisputably has. That’s how we get to a point where instead of rolling up sleeves and doing the gritty work themselves, one is meant only to ‘believe’ something that Al Gore told them Scientists Said. People who raise questions, critiques, and doubts – i.e., people who do the very things that scientists are supposed to do – are then branded as ‘not believing in science’.

Which is perfectly consistent, however, because like I said ‘believing in science’ is anti-scientific, and if that’s what you do, then that’s what you are. Personally, I don’t ‘believe in science’.

Sea Salt
April 23, 2011, 9:34 pm
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Man, there’s just no salt better than sea salt, is there? I won’t even touch regular salt. Eew. But sea salt is a whole different story. Not only can you totally tell the difference in taste – like night and day, really – it’s actually totally awesome for you (I bet).

Like, when I see that the potato chips I’m about to scarf down have sea salt on them instead of regular salt (which frankly should be banned), I just feel so proud of what I’m about to put in my body (my temple) that I have to fight the urge to write in to Prevention magazine and boast about it.

If you eat regular, non-sea salt at least some of the time, I’m like totally embarrassed for you.

Our Humble Symbiont Queen, Obamadala
April 23, 2011, 9:25 pm
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I was wondering what exactly motivates President Obama to bow to virtually every foreign leader he meets – and (more importantly, in a way) why he isn’t universally derided for it (instead of derided only by the right) – and my mind turned (as it often does) to Star Wars. Specifically, the first prequel, The Phantom Menace.

As you all remember vividly, halfway through that gripping adventure Nabooan Queen Amidala has seen her capital city occupied by the droid army of the Trade Federation, and via the ideology of symbionts comes upon the solution of asking the Gungans for help fighting back – since they share the same planet and their fates are connected, you see – in a plan that (it turns out) requires them to sacrifice many lives for what is essentially a diversion so that her space fleet can attack in space.

At first, the fat froggy Gungan king wants no part of this, reasonably enough. However, Queen Amidala reveals herself, bows before him, and asks him humbly. That is when he replies, in the classic, memorable line that will live on forever in movie history:

Yousa no thinka yousa better dan us? Meesa like!

And so they help (and die).

This is probably why whenever I try to imagine engaging some Obama water-carrier as to why he seems to instinctively bow to everyone, and why it’s okay that he bows, the only defense I can imagine getting thrown back in my face are – essentially – that this shows heesa no think heesa better dan dem, and deysa gonna like.

In other words, it all makes sense as long as you subscribe to a George Lucas-style theory of geopolitics.

Experts Are Right, He Reasoned
April 18, 2011, 9:26 pm
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In this post, Matthew Yglesias links to a study that shows a certain personality type (“egalitarian communitarians”), when shown a point of view by someone they are told is an ‘expert’, and shown a ‘fake’ resume of that ‘expert’, are almost universally inclined – 88 percent in one instance – to accept that ‘expert’ as “trustworthy and knowledgeable”. Meanwhile, “hierarchical individualists” are far less inclined to trust the (fake) ‘expert’.

As far as I can tell (and admittedly, it’s hard to tell), Matthew Yglesias thinks this illustrates something bad about the hierarchical individualists’ reasoning skills vs. those of the communitarians. Which, is hilarious to me. But I guess if I were a communitarian egalitarian – i.e., had better ‘reasoning’ skills – I’d just reactively accept the brilliance of Yglesias’s point.

After all, he has a Harvard degree. And not even a fake one (to my knowledge).


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