Krugman Syndrome

Paul Krugman wears a fancy medal. (AP)

The great thing about being a liberal is the warm, gooey feeling of self-satisfaction and moral superiority.

By simply agreeing with liberal policies, or retweeting an OFA hashtag, or laughing at The Daily Show  (but not just laughing, you know? really getting it on a deeper level), you, too, can join the ranks of the enlightened. There you will be, on the right side of history, yelling, Onward!

(As a former liberal who proudly voted for Barack Obama in 2008, I miss this feeling.)

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Being a member of the Elite Guard is a great honor, but also a tremendous burden. Liberals know what’s really at stake, which is why they’ve enlisted themselves in what is, quite literally, a war against evil. All those racists. All those corporations.

Conservatives are not ideological foes to be debated; they are a bunch of rowdy frat bros who live next door and won’t stop pissing on their neighbor’s kale garden. They can never be allowed to hold power, lest they start pissing on everyone’s kale.

As Chris Matthews mindlessly suggested after the 2012 election, a few hundreds deaths (from Hurricane Sandy) was a fair price to pay for keeping Mitt Romney out of the White House. After all, Romney did murder that poor woman by giving her cancer, and Republican policies literally kill people.

This is probably the most obnoxious feature of the liberal worldview, because many liberals are convinced that they are just different from conservatives on a fundamental/moral/intellectual level.

For example: Rich conservatives donate to politicians in order to plunder the planet and increase their profit margins; rich liberals are just trying to make a difference in the world.

The predominantly white conservative media is racist; the predominantly white liberal media is predominantly white because they "practice [a] fairly specialized form of journalism and the pool of people who do it isn’t terribly large to begin with."

Conservatives don’t like unions because they hate the working man; liberals don’t like unions because… maybe unions are stifling diversity at liberal publications?

Republicans shamelessly exploit tragedies (in this case, Benghazi) to raise money; Democrats… don’t?

Except that Democrats totally do. In fact, they never let a tragedy go to waste. But liberals get very upset when you point this out. It's hard for them to accept that most politicians are terrible, and therefore the fact that either party is fundraising off a tragedy is basically a dog bites man story in Washington. Democrats are (supposed to be) better than that. Because of the moral superiority.

Paul Krugman is not a hypocrite for accepting a $225,000 taxpayer-funded salary to do little more than be publicly concerned about income inequality, because unlike conservative millionaires, he argues against his own interest by advocating higher taxes. (Nevermind that advocating for higher taxes on the rich can be a rather lucrative endeavor in and of itself.)

This really ought to be known as "Krugman Syndrome," because the Nobel Prize-winning multi-millionaire never fails to provide the most egregious example of liberal delusion. Writing in response to VOX DOT COM explainer-in-chief Ezra Klein's essay on how, according to science, people of all ideological stripes tend to believe that they are always right, and their political opponents are wrong, Krugman observes: "[H]ere’s the thing: the lived experience is that this effect is not, in fact, symmetric between liberals and conservatives."

In a manner that approaches self-parody, Krugman Krugsplains:

One possible answer would be that liberals and conservatives are very different kinds of people — that liberalism goes along with a skeptical, doubting — even self-doubting — frame of mind; "a liberal is someone who won’t take his own side in an argument."

Another possible answer is that it’s institutional, that liberals don’t have the same kind of monolithic, oligarch-financed network of media organizations and think tanks as the right.

Whatever it is, I think it’s important: people are people, but politics doesn’t seem to have the same stupiditizing effect on left and right.

Krugman doubled down a week later, in a post that fittingly begins with a quote from The Daily Show:

Just to be clear: Yes, you can find examples where *some* liberals got off on a hobbyhorse of one kind or another, or where the liberal conventional wisdom turned out wrong. But you don’t see the kind of lockstep rejection of evidence that we see over and over again on the right. …

Finally, I do believe that there is a difference in temperament between the sides. I know that it doesn’t show up in the experiments done so far, which show liberals and conservatives more or less equally inclined to misread facts in a tribal way. But such experiments may not be enough like real life to capture the true differences — although I’d be the first to admit that I don’t have solid evidence for that claim. I am, after all, a liberal.

In other words, Krugman slammed conservatives for their refusal to accept scientific evidence by … refusing to accept scientific evidence. Of course, Dan Kahan, the scientist whose work was the basis for Klein's piece, was thoroughly amused, calling Krugman's analysis "exquisitely self-refuting."

But Krugman wasn't the only one. Jonathan Chait also observed, "Reliance on empiricism offers no escape from ideology because, in American politics, reliance on empiricism is an ideology" (i.e., liberalism). Because, as well all know, liberals are only interested what works, as proven by THE FACTS. Except, that is, when THE FACTS disagree with the Paul Krugman.

Paul Krugman