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TheMoneyIllusion货币幻觉

美国本特利大学经济学教授斯科特·萨姆纳(Scott Sumner)

 
 
 

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美国本特利大学经济学教授

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让我们清理一下博客(也清理一下大气层)  

2009-11-06 14:04:34|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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[点击查看Scott Sumner的英文博客]  [Scott Sumner中文博客]

我注意到,知识界的标准已经下降了。幸运的是,保罗·克鲁格曼在他最近一系列论及全球变暖的博客中,为大家树立了一套伦理标准。在他的第一篇博文里,他谴责Levitt和Dubner在一个严肃的论题上违反了直觉:

然而,乍看之下,貌似Levitt和Dubner陷入了反直觉的陷进。一直以来,哗众取宠都是时政评论家,某种程度上也是经济评论家的普遍做法:他们让中产者们吃惊,当然,他们的做法没有真正的危险性。Ann·Coulter是有道理的,布什对环境是有功的!你明白咯!

这种巧妙的文字游戏可以在很长时间内出现在你的职业生涯中--但诀窍是知道什么时候停止。讨论那些相对无关紧要的媒体和文化问题时,可以这样做。但是,如果你要探讨一些严肃而正经的课题(比如“地球的命运”)时,你最好十分谨慎,而不要把反自觉和全然的、不可原谅的错误混作一谈。

我是不能同意的。文字游戏对约翰·梅纳德·凯恩斯的职业生涯当然是有益的。他不断地以反直觉的断言震撼着中产阶级:储蓄实际上是有害的,我们最好把装满钱的瓶子埋起来,并请工人再把它挖出来。

在接下来的一篇博文里,克鲁格曼批评Levitt和Dubner歪曲了其他学者的观点:

好吧!我从头到尾浏览了关于气候的章节—还有前面5页,他们完全抹黑了所有东西。为什么呢?因为他们歪曲了别人的研究,不管是气候学还是经济学。

在克鲁格曼的第三篇博文中,他的最后攻击是:

尽管不知究竟,但我仍然怀疑,作者只是漫不经心地略读了一下Weitzman的翔实论文;仅仅看到了一些他们乐意看到的数据,却不问这些数据的意义。

……

而这是令人无法接受的。这是一个严肃的议题。这可不是在谈论相扑比赛的伦理问题。我们在谈论的问题,极可能是关乎文明命运的。在这些问题上,可不适合耍弄小聪明、玩弄文字游戏。

考虑到所有被讽刺、误传的都是我所服膺的芝加哥学派的观点。正如Cochrane和Levines在最近的两篇文章中所表达的,由一个诺贝尔奖得主来呼吁更高的水准是很有益的。

因此可以总结道,我们应该认真的阅读别人的作品,而不是简单地浏览一下。我们决不能误传他人的观点。还有,为了对得起上帝的爱,再也别在严肃的议题上油腔滑调、玩弄文字游戏。比如全球变暖这样的话题,还有(我斗胆加一条)如何用货币政策解决(自20世纪30年代以来的)最糟糕的经济危机。

附言:明智的读者会注意到,我的博客里也充斥着反直觉的胡说八道。但至少我从来没有油腔滑调、玩弄文字游戏。

再附言:为了准确起见,像Levitt和Dubner一样,我也相信全球变暖确有其事,也确实需要解决这个问题。我也和他们一样对地质工程学抱持着同样的兴趣(尽管作为一个富人,严苛的碳减排政策对我来说是有益的)。而我也认同他们的一下观点:许多气候专家(包括克鲁格曼)夸大了全球变暖危机的严峻性。在我们完全倒转经济形势之前,还是先冷静下来吧。两个最好的解决方案是:

1、  中国50%的私有化经济仍然是国有企业。这些在所有共产主义国家都是效率低下的。

2、  碳排放税

随便说一下,我还没有读过他们的书。有谁知道他们推动硫酸盐地质工程学的缘故吗?我认为人造云雨的造价在北纬地带是很低廉的,无污染的,而且一旦出现副作用时,可以即时逆转。

Tyler Cowen最近争辩道,在国际范围内,地质工程学是政治上不可接受的。但是对大多数建议而言,我并不认为这是个严重的问题。对于全球气温上升2到3个百分比,地质工程学只是对付它的最后一招(在能源开发有进展之前的很长时间)。我怀疑,那些所有致力于避免地球变暖的政策都将会是有争议的。关于变冷需要花费多少钱的辩论是会有的,但是人们绝不会在是否阻止温度上升5到10摄氏度上耗费唇舌。这项政策不可能会贯彻几十年,因为到那时,战争将不再是处理国际关系的工具。世界将变成一个大的欧盟。哎呀!我又做了个反直觉的断言。

更新:哇!现在我迫不及待的想看《超级魔鬼经济学》的第五章了。Dubner写的这一段和克鲁格曼的说法尖锐对立。两人中终有一个会被扔臭鸡蛋的。有人看过这一章吗?

(翻译纠错。读者发现任何翻译错误请发邮件给我们,谢谢:caijingblog#126.com 将#改为@)

-----------------------------------------------

英文原文(地址:http://blogsandwikis.bentley.edu/themoneyillusion/?p=2608 ):

It has come to my attention that the standards of intellectual discourse have been slipping.   Fortunately, Paul Krugman has provided us with a set of ethical standards for blogging in a recent series of posts on global warming.  In the first post he takes Levitt and Dubner to task for their counterintuitiveness on an important issue:

At first glance, though, what it looks like is that Levitt and Dubner have fallen into the trap of counterintuitiveness. For a long time, there’s been an accepted way for commentators on politics and to some extent economics to distinguish themselves: by shocking the bourgeoisie, in ways that of course aren’t really dangerous. Ann Coulter is making sense! Bush is good for the environment! You get the idea.

Clever snark like this can get you a long way in career terms — but the trick is knowing when to stop. It’s one thing to do this on relatively inconsequential media or cultural issues. But if you’re going to get into issues that are both important and the subject of serious study, like the fate of the planet, you’d better be very careful not to stray over the line between being counterintuitive and being just plain, unforgivably wrong.

I could not agree more.  It certainly helped the career of the snarky John Maynard Keynes.  He continually shocked the bourgeoisie with counterinituitive assertions that saving was actually harmful and that we’d all be better off if we buried bottles full of money and paid workers to dig them up.

In the next post Krugman criticizes Levitt and Dubner for misrepresenting the views of other scholars:

OK, I’m working my way through the climate chapter — and the first five pages, by themselves, are enough to discredit the whole thing. Why? Because they grossly misrepresent other peoples’ research, in both climate science and economics.

And the final one-two punch is delivered in a third post on the topic:

I suspect, though I don’t know this, that the authors were just careless — they skimmed Weitzman’s paper, which is densely written, saw a number they liked, and didn’t ask what the number meant.

.   .   .

And that’s not acceptable. This is a serious issue. We’re not talking about the ethics of sumo wrestling here; we’re talking, quite possibly, about the fate of civilization. It’s not a place to play snarky, contrarian games.

Given all the gross charicature and misrepresentation of the views of my beloved Chicago school, as Cochrane and Levine exposed in two recent essays, it’s good to have a Nobel Prize winner speaking out forcefully on the need for higher standards. 

So to summarize, we need to actually read what people write, not just skim.  We must not misrepresent the views of others.  And, for the love of God, no more snarkiness on important issues like global warming, and dare I add, monetary solutions to the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. 

PS.  The alert reader will have noticed that my blog is also full of counterintuitive nonsense.  But at least I’m never snarky.

PPS.  For the record, like Levitt and Dubner I believe global warming is real and needs to be addressed.  And I also share their interest in geoengineering (although as an affluent snorkler I’d be better off with a draconian carbon reduction policy.)  And I share their view that many climate experts (and Krugman) overstate the urgency of the crisis.  We need to take a deep breath before we turn our economy upside down.  The two best solutions would be:

1.  For China to privatize the 50% of its economy that is still SOEs, which as in all communist countries are very energy inefficient.

2.  A carbon tax.

BTW, I haven’t read their book yet.  Does anyone know why they push the sulfates approach to geoengineering?   I had thought the creation of artificial clouds of water particles in the northern latitudes was cheaper, nonpolluting, and instantly reversible if nasty side effects developed.

Tyler Cowen recently argued that geoengineering might be politically unacceptable at the international level.  But I don’t see this as a serious problem for most actual proposals, which call for geoengineering as only a last resort to cap the rise of global temperature at around 2 or 3 degrees centigrade (until long term energy solutions are developed.)  I doubt whether a policy designed to keep the planet from going from hot to very hot would be all that controversial.  There would be debate about how much to cool, but not over whether to prevent a 5 to 10 degree rise in temps.  The policy won’t be implimented for decades, and by then war will no longer be a tool of international relations.  The world will be a big EU.  Oops, there I go again with counterintuitive assertions.

Update:  Wow!  Now I can’t wait to see chapter 5 of SuperfreakonomicsThis piece by Dubner flatly contradicts much of what Krugman has been saying.  One of the two will end up with a lot of egg on their face.  Has anyone seen the chapter?   (HT: Tyler Cowen) 

 [点击查看Scott Sumner的英文博客]  [Scott Sumner中文博客]  

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