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    a world of declining conflict, redux..., 2005-05-27 13:27:01 | Main | conversely..., 2005-05-31 15:02:36

    krugman v. orkent:

    is a little like watching godzilla v. a moth. Orkent, the NYT's Public Editor previously made the blanket assertion that Krugman had "the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults."

    Therein is listed Orkent's post-facto case file of Krugman's "disturbing habit" of "substantive" misdirection. None of them amount to anything substantive, and what's disturbing is what Orkent considers to be substantive.

    By way of example his parting shot is that Krugman "suggestively conflates" retirement income and social security benefits in this op-ed. This allegation is somewhat confusing: social security benefits are part of retirement benefits, and so in reality are conflated. Perhaps Orkent meant to accuse Krugman of not properly conflating them, or perhaps this highly paid editor for the New York Times is not familiar with the distinction between "conflate" and "synecdoche". Because Krugman fails to define in full terms that should be quite familiar - and if they're not it's hardly his fault - to any reader of the New York Times, he could, I suppose, be accused of either not conflating enough or of conflating so much that the part is taken for the whole by readers on par with the paper's public editor.

    Orkent wrote "I believe that columnists are entitled by their mandate to engage in the unfair use of statistics, the misleading representation of opposing positions, and the conscious withholding of contrary data". The first corollary to this axiom appears to be that a columnist who adequately represents the reality of things, such as "suggestively conflating" things that are in fact conflated, are violating their mandate. This would be disturbing if it wasn't the editorial policy of the New York Times towards so much of what it does, but it's interesting to see what happens when one of their employees violates first principles.


:: posted by buermann @ 2005-05-31 13:27:03 CST | link





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