Friday, February 15, 2013

Myths Lies and Downright Stupidity

[June 2009] This book does a convincing job of exposing myths about 'policy issues'. He was also able to make clear fact-based arguments refuting other bits of conventional wisdom, arguing that businesses like regulation and republicans love to increase spending. Hearing a car dealer say that requiring car purchases to be made through car dealers in order to "preserve car dealers" is fairly convincing. Lawyers prohibiting anyone other than a lawyer to fill out forms is also in the similar vein. (Sure there probably are a few people protected from shysters - but in the end, it is protecting the well being of a few.) Arguments against the excesses of malpractice also work well, using a mix of anecdotes and statistics to show that they have gone too far.

When he gets into the scientific realm, however, he is much less convincing. He picks his arguments to make broad 'absolute' conclusions. When discussing global warming, for instance, he refutes the arguments of some scientific studies by citing other scientific studies. Simply choose different studies and the argument can be spun around. In some topics he chooses a single scientific study to bolster a point, while in another he refutes a point as being based only on a single study. And some arguments avoid studies altogether and rely on anecdotes.

In the end, it can best be viewed as a libertarian policy outline. The beliefs are set out, and appropriate arguments are given to bolster those beliefs. There is plenty of content to rile both conservatives and liberals. The delivery is fast paced and entertaining, even if there are holes in the reasoning.

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