The unscientific hypocrisy of Paul Krugman

The unscientific hypocrisy of Paul Krugman

If you’ve read one Paul Krugman column, you’ve read them all. They generally take this syllogistic form: (1) Can you believe a Republican said this? (2) All economists agree with me that Republicans are wrong. (3) Therefore, Republicans are stupid. He’s now applied this pristine logic to Republican policy on science, noting in a recent column that Democratic science policy is based on facts, while Republicans suppress facts.

Of course, that belief is partisan nonsense, as I detail in my new book Science Left Behind. And furthermore, it would be deeply ironic if it turned out that, in writing this op-ed, Krugman also was guilty of suppressing facts.

Exhibit A in Krugman’s prosecution was what he referred to as the “ignorance caucus.” He claims that Republicans are ignorant because they don’t want the National Science Foundation (NSF) funding social science. Krugman fails to mention that a lot of scientists actually agree with Republicans on this point, as does Washington Post columnist Charles Lane, who correctly wrote that “society is not a laboratory.” Additionally, besides being notoriously ideological, most social sciences do not rigorously follow the scientific method. That should disqualify them from receiving money from the NSF, which was originally designed for the purpose of funding science, technology and engineering — not psychology, sociology and economics. The social sciences are worthy of funding, but they can and should look elsewhere for cash.

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