Teaching bloggers communication skills

Who would have thought that a right-wing blogger would have issues communicating with other humans?

Consider conservative economist Greg Mankiw, who used an NYT editorial to dissect a study out of the University of California:

"A recent study by Christina and David H. Romer, then economists at the University of California, Berkeley, finds that a dollar of tax cuts raises the G.D.P. by about $3. According to the Romers, the multiplier for tax cuts is more than twice what Professor Ramey finds for spending increases. Why this is so remains a puzzle. One can easily conjecture about what the textbook theory leaves out, but it will take more research to sort things out. And whether these results based on historical data apply to our current extraordinary circumstances is open to debate."

And then there's 538.com's Nate Silver, helping to set Mankiw straight:

"It is not like the paper is some founders' document or Dead Sea Scroll whose every fragment we must struggle to interpret. Christina Romer is a living, breathing economist. And when Romer had to estimate the multiplier associated with the sort of recessionary tax cut that Mankiw is talking about, as she did just yesterday (!) in the transition team's official policy paper on the stimulus, she estimated a multiplier of $0.99 for every dollar of tax cuts rather than $3.00. So Mankiw is either suggesting that he knows Romer's work better than Romer does, or he is in effect accusing Romer of being less than true to herself."

If there's one thing I've learned in my life, it's this: when you have a question about something, and you know that there's someone who can definitively answer that question for you, and you don't contact that person, it's probably because you know they're going to give you an answer you don't want to hear.

Mankiw could have contacted Mrs. Romer to better understand her work, and chose not to. Amazingly, that probably would have undermined the premise for his editorial.

1 comment:

jk said...

Well, the right wing conspiracy is alive and well. WSJ editorial page editor Paul Gigot used this exact same number on Stephanopolous this week.