08 February 2011

The Perils of Public Intellectualism

Paul Krugman on January 28, 2011 in a post titled "Egypt":
I don’t know anything, have no expertise, haven’t even ever looked at the economic situation. Hence, no posting. If there comes a point when I have something to say, I will.
Ten days later:
I’ve spent a lot of the last several days reading about climate change, extreme weather events, food prices, and so on.
You know the rest.


  1. Paul Krugman on January 28, 2011 in a post titled "Egypt":I don’t know anything...I’ve spent a lot of the last several days

    Having spent a year in the Middle East shortly after the Iranian revolution and a good portion of 30 years staying current on Middle East events several days is not enough to even locate the building where the cluebat is stored.

  2. Perhaps he slept in a Holiday Inn and woke an expert.

  3. Now you see Roger, all that time an effort of getting a degree, then doing research, publishing in journals and writing books is completely unnecessary. All you needed to do was spend 10 days studying climate change, food prices and extreme weather events and you to would have found the "Truth".

  4. The horrible thing is that he likely spent "the last several days" reading Joe Romm's blog and now considers himself "informed".

    Scratch that, the horrible thing is that this is a Nobel laureate that wields influence over the intelligentsia and the public as a whole.

    Ah well, at least this might bring the issue to a bigger venue where hopefully better informed public intellectuals get an opportunity to dispel misinformation and poorly interpreted data (*cough* Roger *cough*).

  5. The surrogate PhD via Google strikes again.

  6. Krugman: "What you’re looking for is a pattern. And that pattern is obvious."

    Yep. No regard by Krugman for "uncertainty", at the least. It is obvious.

  7. Looks like I'm in the minority here, but (again) I think that this is an unfair comparison.

    I certainly don't regard myself as a Krugman acolyte ("you doth protest too much!"), but he was talking about two very different things in these posts; Egypt's political situation vs climate change (and food prices).

    I'm not saying that one is complicated and the other not, but the posts you highlight don't strike me as self-contradictory.

    For one thing, Krugman has written reasonably extensively on climate change before, especially from an economics standpoint. In doing a bit more research (though everyone is entitled to their own opinions on his sources!), he now provides a fairly simply explanation of an (uncontroversial?) hypothesis - RE the link between extreme weather events and climate change.


  8. -7-stickman

    I'm not too impressed with Krugman's climate policy analyses either: