Krugman on Things We All Know Yet Are Not True™

This will be familiar to anyone who follows the education debate (Bill [cough] Keller [cough]), but the Krugman makes a very good point (boldface mine):


hen you tried to talk about the deficit, and why it didn’t deserve the crisis rhetoric, you ran up not so much against people who disagreed but people who thought that “nobody” shared your relaxed attitude; it was “Paul Krugman against the world.” I mean, surely nobody else was that crazy. Except that the anti-austerians were intellectual moderates, basically applying Econ 101, while the austerians were making up new economic doctrines on the fly to justify their groupthink.

Drezner also mentions that his own most influential publication was one making the obvious point that China’s ownership of a bunch of US bonds doesn’t give it leverage over America; a point people like Dean Baker and yours truly have also made. When you try to make this point to Beltway types, however, you encounter not so much disagreement as incredulity — “everyone” knows that China has immense power over us, “nobody” disagrees. Indeed, if you go to the link you’ll see that Dean was reacting to a news article that stated the Chinese power thing not as a dubious hypothesis but as simple fact.

The thing about this epistemic closure is that it’s highly resistant not just to analysis but to experience. Rarely in the course of human events has “everyone” been so wrong, and “nobody” so right, as in the case of the alleged deficit threat. Yet you will have a hard time finding anyone among the fearmongers acknowledging his wrongness, let alone engaging in some self-examination about why he was wrong. After all, he was only saying what everyone knew was true.

Lots of that going around.

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