Make War on Bullshit

Over the past few years I’ve been inclined to make political bets with people, just to see if they believe their own bullshit. I am trying to reign in this impulse, if only to preserve my wife’s sanity.

I’m glad to see others, notably Nate Silver, are also willing to put their money where their mouth is. A bet is, indeed, a tax on bullshit.

Unfortunately, in a complex world there are times when bullshit wins.

That said, there is a cost to paying attention to it. Here is Barry Ritholtz with more on how to eliminate bad influences with poor track records.

Here’s the Pundit Accountability List of predictions. They definitely need to add more. James Fallows at The Atlantic is also holding feet to the fire. I would like to see this matter, but the truth is everyone who makes a bad prediction will have a book to sell the true believers out that is just as chock full of nonsense. And it will sell.

Politics is emotional. Politics is wishful thinking. It is probably wishful thinking on my part to hope to reign in the more shameless bullshit artists. People pay good money for bullshit. That is unlikely to change.

UPDATE: Nate Silver seems to have done quite well, despite the lame objections of his detractors. Here’s Conor Friedersdorf on how badly Republican (I do not consider them ‘conservative’) media failed their audience.

Here is Business Insider’s roundup of failure. The Unskewed Polls guy doesn’t look particularly masculine to me. I guess that’s why he had to insult Nate Silver the other week?

Gallup blew their likely voter modeling, too. Here is Slate’s amusing look at predictions.

Scientific American weighs in with Why Math Is Like the Honey Badger. It amuses me to no end the party that believes it has knowledge of business (and a base that believes they’re the only ones in America with jobs) doesn’t understand basic math, demography, or economics. 9 times out of 10, when I read a GOP soundbite on the economy, they sound like the guys in my Macroeconomics class who didn’t understand the material. Some of that may be ignorance, but much of it seems to be an arrogant assertion of ideology over fundamental reality. That kind of bullshit deserves to lose.

Speaking of bullshit, could the influence of the Evangelicals be waning?

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