William Boykin
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Fascinating article by Nicholas Kristof in the NYTimes, where he argues that a key problem behind the financial crisis is that 'Experts' were trotted out by various news services- who then didn't really know anything. Their predictive ability was very random. What was more fascinating was the 'fame' effect.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/opinion/26Kristof.html

Quote:
The expert on experts is Philip Tetlock, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. His 2005 book, “Expert Political Judgment,” is based on two decades of tracking some 82,000 predictions by 284 experts. The experts’ forecasts were tracked both on the subjects of their specialties and on subjects that they knew little about.

The result? The predictions of experts were, on average, only a tiny bit better than random guesses — the equivalent of a chimpanzee throwing darts at a board.....

Indeed, the only consistent predictor was fame — and it was an inverse relationship. The more famous experts did worse than unknown ones. That had to do with a fault in the media. Talent bookers for television shows and reporters tended to call up experts who provided strong, coherent points of view, who saw things in blacks and whites. People who shouted — like, yes, Jim Cramer!


I find this fascinating- and rings true. Back in the 1990's, political scientists studying the media were noticing that people who were the most 'interested' in politics tended also to be the most polarize- the ones who didn't care that much tended to be moderates. This had led to a polarization of media news sources. Of course, Tetlock's study demonstrates the danger that listening to just one point of view, or one perspective- that the 'experts' paraded out by the Conventional Wisdom of the 'news tribe' that you listen to are going to ALSO be the most reductionist- and most likely to either be very very right, or very very wrong.

Another element that I find hopeful is that Kristof calls for more accountability from political/economic pundits- and starts with his own.

Quote:
The marketplace of ideas for now doesn’t clear out bad pundits and bad ideas partly because there’s no accountability. We trumpet our successes and ignore failures — or else attempt to explain that the failure doesn’t count because the situation changed or that we were basically right but the timing was off.

For example, I boast about having warned in 2002 and 2003 that Iraq would be a violent mess after we invaded. But I tend to make excuses for my own incorrect forecast in early 2007 that the troop “surge” would fail.

So what about a system to evaluate us prognosticators? Professor Tetlock suggests that various foundations might try to create a “trans-ideological Consumer Reports for punditry,” monitoring and evaluating the records of various experts and pundits as a public service. I agree: Hold us accountable!


Thats a tough thing to do- especially now, when Kristof doesn't really NEED to make a mea culpa about the surges. I might disagree with Kristof on some things, but I wholeheartedly agree with what he argues here...

Which is, if you're just listening to ONE news source, consider, for just a month, to read ANOTHER one. And compare the two, not looking for signs of how the other source is biased- but to look for where they are right and your usual source is wrong.

Bias in media sources is a complicated issue- but you don't do yourself any service by just IGNORING what a bunch of other people have to say. Disagree if you will, sure. But realize that if you're just listening to one source of news, you're probably not getting the whole picture.

Darilian


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Jess i TRON
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So, which news sources do you all listen to from the other side?

I like Daniel Larison, but while conservative, he is not a neoconservative, so not totally the opposite spectrum.

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True Blue Jon
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So if experts don't know anything, why should I listen to the expert that tells me that?
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Fits right into my position that the vast majority of media have become nothing more than "story tellers". Once they decide on the plot, they just pick and choose the data and personalities that move their story along it's plotline.

Successful politicians are always story tellers first and foremost. Otherwise, how could obvious crooks and liars (and I'm thinking people like Rangel here) stay in office? Their voters believe one story over the other. None of it has to do with accuracy or actual "news".
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TheLightSarcastic wrote:


See? I'm totally a Democratic Strategist now, and I will gladly wear a low-cut dress on CNN and tell my opponent Bill Kristol that he's a douche bag for a fair sum.


Hmm, better try it out on us first, just to make sure you've "got it".
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jarredscott78 wrote:
TheLightSarcastic wrote:


See? I'm totally a Democratic Strategist now, and I will gladly wear a low-cut dress on CNN and tell my opponent Bill Kristol that he's a douche bag for a fair sum.


Hmm, better try it out on us first, just to make sure you've "got it".


You want Gen to call you a douche bag?
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DWTripp wrote:
jarredscott78 wrote:
TheLightSarcastic wrote:


See? I'm totally a Democratic Strategist now, and I will gladly wear a low-cut dress on CNN and tell my opponent Bill Kristol that he's a douche bag for a fair sum.


Hmm, better try it out on us first, just to make sure you've "got it".


You want Gen to call you a douche bag?

Sure, if the rest comes with it.
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William Boykin
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jessitron wrote:
So, which news sources do you all listen to from the other side?

I like Daniel Larison, but while conservative, he is not a neoconservative, so not totally the opposite spectrum.



Columnists I read...
Nicholas Kristof (duh!)
Thomas Friedman
David Brooks
David Broder
Pat Buchanan
Georgie Ann Geyers
Maggie Gallagher

And a host of others- but those are the key ones I read in the national press.

Darilian
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quozl wrote:
So if experts don't know anything, why should I listen to the expert that tells me that?


Spoken by a true expert...
 
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TheLightSarcastic wrote:

See? I'm totally a Democratic Strategist now, and I will gladly wear a low-cut dress on CNN and tell my opponent Bill Kristol that he's a douche bag for a fair sum.

Is it wrong that I would rather watch this than anything currently on CNN?
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CapAp wrote:
TheLightSarcastic wrote:

See? I'm totally a Democratic Strategist now, and I will gladly wear a low-cut dress on CNN and tell my opponent Bill Kristol that he's a douche bag for a fair sum.

Is it wrong that I would rather watch this than anything currently on CNN?

If it's wrong I don't want to be right.
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True Blue Jon
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TheLightSarcastic wrote:
Here, check this out:

Barack Obama should focus more on the environment.

See? I'm totally a Democratic Strategist now, and I will gladly wear a low-cut dress on CNN and tell my opponent Bill Kristol that he's a douche bag for a fair sum.


So Gen is an expert now and Darillian said she doesn't know anything?

Bad, BAD Darillian!
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You're the bizzaro-Coulter!
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Robert Reich said this in response to some reporter saying that Reich was "right all along" about something... I don't have an exact quote but I'll paraphrase:

"in economics, if you say the same thing for 20 years, eventually you'll be right".

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jarredscott78 wrote:
You're the bizzaro-Coulter!


It's "You am bizzaro-Coulter." Get the lingo right.
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pronoblem wrote:
Robert Reich said this in response to some reporter saying that Reich was "right all along" about something... I don't have an exact quote but I'll paraphrase:

"in economics, if you say the same thing for 20 years, eventually you'll be right".



I always liked Robert Reich. Even when I disagreed with him.

I especially love how he views focusing upon education as 'human infrastructure'- I wish more policy makers viewed education as important as he does.

His series "Made in America?" was fascinating.

Darilian
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Darilian wrote:
I always liked Robert Reich. Even when I disagreed with him.


He and Deval Patrick are the only time I have voted Democrat besides local politics... I volunteered for Reich in the Mass Governor primaries and got to meet him...

He posed nude in a calendar for a fundraiser benefiting the Cambridge Community Television station:

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/robertreich1.html

That was after the governor bid, but that would have been more incentive to elect him as far as I am concerned.

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pronoblem wrote:
Darilian wrote:
I always liked Robert Reich. Even when I disagreed with him.


He and Deval Patrick are the only time I have voted Democrat besides local politics... I volunteered for Reich in the Mass Governor primaries and got to meet him...

He posed nude in a calendar for a fundraiser benefiting the Cambridge Community Television station:

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/robertreich1.html

That was after the governor bid, but that would have been more incentive to elect him as far as I am concerned.



Reich's work was a campaign bible for me on economics when I was helping a buddy of mine run for State Congress in WA state back in 1996.

We lost, but it was a HELL of a learning experience. Reich was key to getting me interested in supporting my friend Brian.

Darilian
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Dar, thanks for bringing this up. I have been saying the identical thing for years exactly as stated. Not to say that I knew better, rather it is feel good that one's notions gets confirmed by a better thinker, and I gain trust in my own inclinations and reflections.

There's also the Honourable Richard Posner's Public Intellectuals:.... However, I do not recommend it. I found it over-written and not saying all that much. It lacked insight I think. Said another way, it's OK but not worth the time it takes to read it.

Posner says it as well and I too advocate that pundits' predications ought to be tracked. It would be such a useful tool in determining who we ought to listen to; who is the real expert in his field. I think people tend to discount this because it seems like an overly simplistic solution. Real solutions are surely more complex is the thinking. I'm hard pressed to think how this would not be very helpful especially in light of the minimal effort required in implementing it.


Dar, as a very intelligent person you have the ability and inclination to read a dozen columns. The problem is that Joe Blow doesn't. But, does that mean Joe is not entitled to good advice; he's not entitled to benefit from anything. Is Joe less of a person because his forté is running a forklift, helping his wife in the home, and showing his kid a proper changeup and not analyzing a dozen political columns.

We need Joe to run that forklift or diapers don't show up at the drugmart and Pandemic doesn't show up at your FLGS. We expect him to do it correctly. Likewise, Ian Intellectual is not expected to move boxes or shovel ashphalt. But, in return for the money paid to him we expect his opinions to be valuable. That's the social contract. Go ahead, light your pipe and read to your heart's content. Figure it out and let us know what's the best thing to do. In the meanwhile, Joe will make sure Ian's groceries get to the supermarket.

We need thinkers. We need people who have the ability to take lots of disparate information, collate it, analyze it, and then spit out viable options. I don't see why they shouldn't be held up to the same standards of verification and expectations as any other work producers in our societies.
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I don't think we'll ever get good pundits.

Is not that impossible to have an expert that will have a good prediction record: What happens is that their record is absolutely irrelevant to be on TV.

Joe Blow doesn't really care that much about how correct his sources are: When he looks for political or macroeconomic opinions, he wants simple answers that appeal to his truthiness. He'd be very interested in accuracy if his future depended on it, but typically that is not the case: Does it matter if he watches a guy that makes him get wrong conclusion on abortion, or on the economic crisis? Not one bit. Only the collection of thousands of Joes taking really poor advice can make each one of their lives miserable. But when Joe gets back home, all he wants is be entertained, and doesn't have time for minutiae. The producers want Joe to watch, so they give him what he wants: A famous dude he respects and is more of a caricature than a person.

Not that my reading of different sources makes a difference anyway: Unless we try to communicate to others what the best arguments are. it doesn't matter if Darillian, Tripp or I are right or wrong.
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