Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Niall Ferguson Is Even Worse Than I Thought
Noah Smith read Niall Ferguson's Newsweek article in which he argued that we should elect Paul Ryan and get rid of Obama. Noah found several instances in which Ferguson actually contradicted himself in the same article. Ferguson not only misquoted the CBO in making the case against Obamacare, he was logically inconsistent. It seems as if Ferguson started out with an intention to make a case against Obama, and for Ryan (note that Ryan takes precedence over Romney), he then threw a bunch of things together to support his conclusion with little regard for the facts or logical consistency. He gets on the cover of Newsweek, and is invited to be a guest on one of our Sunday TV news shows by writing garbage. His garbage is given credibility by his pedigree. He was at Oxford and is now a tenured professor at Harvard. There is something wrong with this picture. The market for ideas is not self correcting. Ferguson must have written some history that stood up to peer review and earned him tenure at Harvard. Apparently, this gives him a license to say whatever he pleases about US politics and the economy, and it will be reported by the media. One of the reasons for the attention that he gets is that his ideas are provocative, and they help to sell magazines and build TV viewership. After all, these are businesses, and they make money by attracting an audience, and the advertising revenues that are based upon the size of the audience. Another reason is that Ferguson's conclusions are welcomed by powerful people who are eager to give him a platform to advance their goals. Unfortunately, Ferguson's poor reasoning, and misrepresentation of data, may not affect his reputation within Harvard. After all, Ferguson is not being criticized for writing a bad article for a peer reviewed journal.