Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Cite The Atlantic’s “Business and Economics Editor”: Further to the Megan McArdle is Always Wrong chronicles.

Update: Greetings to everyone coming here via TBogg, Susan of Texas, Eschaton and Brad DeLong — and my thanks to those good folks for the links.  A special thanks, of course, to Ms. McArdle herself, who tweeted this very post, apparently authored by “some idiot.” She has forgotten, I think, that here in Boston, that’s an epithet of glorious memory.  This idiot welcomes readers from wherever they come.

Though if I were just a little snarkier, I would add that being insulted by McArdle calls to my mind the experience of being attacked by the British Tory parliamentarian Sir Geoffrey Howe, as described by Roy Hattersley Denis Healey:  it is like being savaged by a dead sheep.

Update 2: Welcome everyone coming over from the GOS, Post Bourgie, Rortybomb, C&L, and Richard Eskow/HuffPo.  Rortybomb  and Eskow dramatically expand the takedown — reccommended.   I know I’m missing others  — for which I apologize; I’ve been a little swamped by the response to this one.

________________________________________________________________________________________

The old joke* about Richard Nixon asked “How can you tell when he’s lying?”

The answer:  “When his lips move.”

I’ve finally come to the conclusion that something similar must be said about Megan McArdle.  Perhaps lying is too harsh a word — but the serial errors that all fall on the side that supports her initial claims and that recur again and again in her work suggest to me that something other than mere intellectual sloth and sloppiness is the driver.

Ordinarily, such a record wouldn’t matter much, especially in journalism.  In theory, a series of clips as riddled with error as McArdle’s would end most careers in high prestige journalism.  Hot Air might still find a use for you, but The Atlantic?

But the problem is that McArdle is useful:  she advances an agenda — that which comforts the comfortable — and she does so with what I think is truly her original talent, the capacity not to notice the ridicule and ferociously dismissive debunking that she so often attracts.

Being able to be wrong in a form and fashion that aids the powerful, and possessing the ability not to mind a life that must be thus lived in willing embrace of error…now that’s a trick.

But it is one that does real damage to the republic, as the post that aroused this latest bout of McArdle-bashing demonstrates.  In it, McArdle seeks to discredit Elizabeth Warren as a potential leader of the new Consumer Finance Protection Agency to be set up under the just-passed financial reform bill.

To do so she tries to impugn both the quality and integrity of Warren’s scholarship, and she does so by a mix of her usual tricks — among them simple falsehoods;** highly redacted descriptions of what Warren and her (never mentioned) colleagues actually said;*** and descriptions of Warren’s work that are inflammatory — and clearly wrong, in ways she seems to hope no one will bother to check.****

You can see the footnotes for quick examples of these sins.  Here, I’ll confine myself to pointing out that in this post you find McArdle doing the respectable-society version of the same approach to argument  that Andy Breitbart has just showed us can have such potent effect.

To see what I mean, you have to follow through two steps: how McArdle constructs her picture of a feckless, partisan and dishonest Warren — and then how she generalizes from it.

Partly, McArdle relies on the strength of her platorm.  As “Business and Economics editor of The Atlantic” she routinely writes in assertions that we are to accept on her say -so.

(As an aside — this argument from authority is never that strong, and, as McArdle demonstrated very recently, can descend to pure, if unintended, comedy (go to Aimai’s comment at the bottom of Susan of Texas’s post), its flip side is that  different.  Everytime someone gets something thing wrong in a consequential way, the loss of trust should advance, ratcheting up with each such error detected, to the point where it becomes the safest default position to assume that someone — McArdle, for example — is always wrong till proven otherwise.)

But back to the anatomy of McArdle’s campaign. I’m going to focus on just one example where McArdle asks us to believe that her argument is strong and supported by the literature — without quite fessing up to what her supporting material actually says.  As part of her sustained campaign to deny the significance of medical bankruptcy in the US, she writes,

A pretty convincing paper argues that the single best predictor of bankruptcy is simply how much debt you’ve accumulated–not income, job loss, divorce, or what have you.  People who declare bankruptcy tend to have nicer stuff than others at the same income level.

The problem here is that the paper does not actually say quite what McArdle implies it does.  She’s mastered here the trick Sally Field played in Absence of Malice — she’s managed to come up with a sentence that is accurate…but not truthful.

In fact, should you actually take the trouble to read the cited study (by UC Davis finance prof, Ning Zhu) you will find material like this:  “households with medical conditions are twice more likely to file for bankruptcy (33.5 percent) than households that do not have medical conditions (14.8 percent)…;”

And this: “Having medical problems increases the households’ filing probability by 7.6 percent and one standard deviation of increase in employment tenure is associated with an increase of 9.2 percent in the filing probability. Such changes represent 48.40 and 58.60 percent deviation from the baseline probability….;”

And this “our results provide qualitative support for both the adverse event and the over-consumption/strategic filing explanations.”

To be fair Zhu concludes that overconsumption — spending too much on housing, cars and credit cards account for more of the total burden of bankruptcy than medical events, divorce or unemployment, as McArdle wrote.

But as McArdle completely failed to acknowledge, Zhu does so while using somewhat more stringent standard for counting medical expenses as a factor in bankruptcy than other scholars employed — as he explicitly acknowledges.  He concedes the continuing significance of medically -induced bankruptcy.  He acknowledges what he believes to be a weak underweighting of that factor (because some people pay for medical expenses on credit cards).  And he notes that a number of other studies, not limited to those co-authored by Warren, come to different conclusions.

In other words:  McArdle correctly describes one conclusion of this paper in a way that yields for its readers a false conclusion about what the paper itself actually says.  And look what that false impression implies:  if  medical bankruptcy is a trivial problem, society-wide, then Warren can be shown to be both a sloppy scholar and, as McArdle more or less explicitly says, a dishonest one as well.

And that leads me back to the thought that got me going on this post.  It seems to me that what we read in McArdle here is a genteel excursion into Andrew Breitbart territory.  Like the Big Hollywood thug, she misleads by contraction, by the omission of necessary context, by simply making stuff up when she thinks no one will check (again, see the footnotes for examples).  And like Breitbart, she does so here to achieve a more than on goal. The first is simply to damage Elizabeth Warren as an individual, to harm her career prospects.  Hence ad hominem stuff like this:

Her work gets so much attention because it comes from a Harvard professor.  And this isn’t Harvard caliber material–not even Harvard undergraduate.

Which neatly sets up this punch line:

..this woman is now under consideration to head a powerful new agency.  If this is how she evaluates data, then isn’t that going to hamper her in making good policy?

But there is a larger goal as well.  McCardle hasn’t given up, as the GOP hasn’t either, on the idea of simply undoing all that the Obama administration has managed to push past the outright lies and bad faith arguments of the right.  So here she does her bit for the cause, taking every attempt to sideswipe health reform:

Obviously, this was also held out as an argument for PPACA, [the health care reform bill] making an implicit promise to the American people which I believe to be false.

So Warren is the target, and there is no doubt that McArdle is trying by any means to discredit her to the public — but the larger ambition here is to discredit major reforms undertaken by the Obama administration in a kind of guilt by association. (See, e.g. the connection some GOP leaders are making between Shirley Sherrod and the negotiated settlement in the discrimination case brought by African American farmers and the USDA.)

McArdle is much more housebroken than many of her fellow travelers of course.  She knows which fork to use (or perhaps better, that particular ocean margin from which the right people secure their salt).  People who would not dream of taking Breitbart seriously still quote McArdle as a seemingly respectable source.

But she’s doing the same kind of work.

Caveat Lector.

And with that, I’m done with McArdle-world for the summer.  Just not worth suffering the Ceti Eel infections that result from too frequent a return to that particular planet.

(In German!  It sounds even more fun..)

*of the “hurts too much too laugh, but I’m too big to cry” variety.

**She cites as her first reason to disbelieve the most recent study in which Warren was one of four co-authors that the response rate to the study questionnair was, at 20%, too low to rule out sample bias.  In fact, as the authors report on the first page of the paper to which McArdle linked in an earlier post that their response rate was 46.5%.  Remember: the default position is that McArdle is Always Wrong.™

***E. g. McArdle rights writes that Warren and her colleagues “defined anyone with $1000 worth of medical bills as having a medical bankruptcy…”  This is how Himmelstein, Thorne, Warren, and Woolhandler actually described their criteria: “We developed two summary measures of medical bankruptcy. Under the rubric “Major Medical Bankruptcy” we included debtors who either (1) cited illness or injury as a specific reason for bankruptcy, or (2) reported uncovered medical bills exceeding $1,000 in the past years, or (3) lost at least two weeks of work-related income because of illness/injury, or (4) mortgaged a home to pay medical bills. Our more inclusive category, “Any Medical Bankruptcy,” included debtors who cited any of the above, or addiction, or uncontrolled gambling, or birth, or the death of a family member.”

That is: once again, what McArdle wrote was accurate inaccurate — but not true. Per commenter perspicio below, and in more detail from commenter Nylund.  Warren and her colleagues in the 2001 paper set $1,000 in uncovered medical bills as the threshold, one they raised to $5,000 in their 2007 study.  Big, big difference between a total bill, in part or entirely covered by insurance, and true out-of-pocket costs — and one which McArdle simply ignores.  Naughty, naughty.

****E.g. — she writes of Warren’s book, co-authored with Amelia Warren Tyagi, “that Warren simply fails to grapple with what her thesis suggests about the net benefits of the two-earner family.  ….. Warren kind of waves her hands and mumbles about social programs and more supportive work environments.  There is no possible solution outside of a more left-wing government.”

Except, of course, Warren does not say anything of the kind.  Instead, of the indebtedness trap that captures two income families, especially after divorce, the two authors write this stirring socialist slogan:  “If a family does not have the income to qualify for a loan at a reasonable rate they should not get that loan” (italics in the original; The Two Income Trap, p. 152.)

It is true that Warren and Tyagi suggest a number of possible policy changes to make the overall landscape of work, family and finance more equitable, from changes to the law on predatory lending to suggestions for child care subsidies.   But here’s their final thought, a rousing demand for Castro-esque intervention into the daily life American families:  “…families need to safeguard themselves” — which is followed by suggestions that range from switching to cheaper preschools and opting to buy or even rent houses smaller than those that put you at the edge of one’s financial capacity.

Warren and Tyagi argue, that is, that individuals should make defensive financial decisions to shield themselves from sudden catastrophic changes in their income.  Wouldn’t John (or Jane) Galt applaud?

Also, I have to say that in this context, this is the measure of McArdle’s character, her moral quality.  There is chutzpah here,  given how little tangible intellectual accomplishment as McArdle can muster to compare with Warren’s resume, and more when she speaks Warren’s mumbling or hand waving in the conext of a paragraph in which the ellipsis above fills in as follows: “Admittedly, I don’t quite know what to say either, but at least I can acknowledge that it’s a pretty powerful problem for the current family model.”

But while we can admire the bravado here, sort of, at bottom this is exactly the kind of petty character assassination that McArdle performs so well, and to such nasty purpose.  A mumbling, vague, imprecise Warren is obviously no one to run an important agency…and thus the post-long mission of character and career assassination is advanced.  Loathesome.

Image:  El Greco, “An Allegory with a Boy Lighting a Candle in the Company of an Ape and a Fool” c. 1600.

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119 Comments on “Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Cite The Atlantic’s “Business and Economics Editor”: Further to the Megan McArdle is Always Wrong chronicles.”

  1. R. Porrofatto Says:

    Excellent. Fun concept that McMegan constantly omits in these diatribes: with one to two million annual bankruptcy filings in the U.S., even if the medical bankruptcy rate is as low as 20%, that’s 200,000 to 400,000 more people economically devastated by medical bankruptcy than would occur in say, France. (It would also be interesting to see to what extent medical costs contribute to business bankruptcy filings.)

    However, the rate may not be even close to such a low figure. It seems that a more recent paper authored by the same researchers as the 2001 study, minus Elizabeth Warren, finds that things have gotten a teensy bit worse since then, even when using more stringent criteria:

    Reasons for the bankruptcies examined in the study included the following:

    * 38.2%: The debtor or spouse lost at least two weeks of income due to illness or became completely disabled.
    * 34.7%: The debtor had medical bills of more than $5,000 or more than 10% of income.
    * 32.1%: The debtor said medical problems of self or spouse led to the bankruptcy.
    * 29%: Medical bills were the reason for the bankruptcy.
    * 5.7%: The debtor mortgaged the home to pay medical bills.

    According to this study, the overall percentage of bankruptcies due in part to medical debt in 2007 was 62%.

    The study is online:

    http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0002-9343/PIIS0002934309004045.pdf

  2. iLarynx Says:

    Great article. Found a typo though (rights vs. writes):

    ***E. g. McArdle rights that Warren and her colleagues “defined anyone with $1000 worth of medical bills as having a medical bankruptcy…”

    Spellcheck can be a double-egged sword. ;^)

  3. mparker Says:

    Thanks for doing great work. McArdle only has to decide what lie to tell which she paints over with a veneer of plausibility. You had to do the all the hard unpleasant scraping down to the bare truth and even a bit into her mind. Icky!

  4. rapier Says:

    Back in the day when I used to comment on her blog I took to calling her Marie, as in Marie Antoinette. That came in reaction to some post about the auto company bailouts, post number 834 I believe on the subject even as the entire banking system was in chaos, when she mentioned the work”lives of dizzying boredom” of the little people. Well she didn’t use little people, it was about postal clerks I believe I believe, it’s all a bit fuzzy but it then occurred to me that Megan had contempt for actual work itself. For Megan’s project was her own fabulous career which amounts to supporting others in fabulous careers.

    I suggested she, the champion of rugged individualism through the lens of modern self satisfied Libertarianism, would kill herself of soon die if she had to actually work. Work at doing some physical task which garnered zero social rewards and damn little monetary reward.

    Marie Antoinette is not a great analogy but it must have struck a nerve for soon enough my comments no longer worked there. Even if I never even suggested the guillotine, but it did cross my mind during moments or revery during my days of dizzying boredom.

  5. JoeCItizen Says:

    A really terrible writing style.
    One has to wade through paragraphs and paragraphs of name-calling, and all manner of disparaging comments. Talking about the thing but not ever giving an example of what you are talking about.

    Finally you get to the one example you want to talk about – where Megan writes something accurate, but somehow false. Your “proof” – some isolated snippets of the original paper – with no context around them, that purport to show a picture somewhat more complex than what Megan presented.

    And this supports all the namecalling and trash-talking? It seems that you are, on the basis of this article, as guilty as Megan, if not more so, of Breitbartian cherry-picking argumentation.

    You are way way to full of yourself. I am sure you have your fans, but to a casual visitor, your style is very off-putting, and does not inspire any confidence that you know your subject. There is far too much glee evident in the trash-talking.

    Why not try again – this time with the goal of mounting a credible argument for the benefit of people who might take the issue seriously.

    • Mr. Wonderful Says:

      Talking about the thing but not ever giving an example of what you are talking about.

      Oh please. Did you bother to look at the footnotes? Or did that not seem relevant to the “people who might take the issue seriously”?

    • Pat Says:

      Why not try again

      Hi, Megan!

    • Tom Says:

      Yo, JC,

      Thanks for reading what obviously pained you.

      I do have to ask, though: why trash talk if you can’t wax gleeful about it? What’s the point?

    • josh Says:

      You should study more spelling and grammar.

  6. dissident Says:

    I am with JoeCItizen. The post didn’t make any sense, and I had no idea how to respond to the verbose vitrol.

  7. tofubo Says:

    …but the serial errors that all fall on the side that supports her initial claims and that recur again and again in her work suggest to me that something other than mere intellectual sloth and sloppiness is the driver…

    willful ignorance, you can’t make an argument and include facts and statements that negatively affect it, paid propagandists also tend to do this sometimes


    • Actually, yes you can; it’s called a ‘socratic dialogue’ – one of the oldest forms of argument there is. you set up the alternative, negative position and then, despite the alternative, you demonstrate how your argument pervades.

      • brad Says:

        That’s called arguing sophistically, which, in tragic irony, was precisely what Socrates was arguing against.

  8. Tom Says:

    JoeCItizen: Have you ever read the drivel written by Ms. McArdle?

    • Tom Says:

      For the record — the Tom above is not the Tom who is the author of this post, aka me, Tom Levenson. I do appreciate the props, though.

  9. dirk Says:

    “to a casual visitor”

    Your avid defence is anything but casual.

  10. Jim Bales Says:

    My favorite (although apocryphal) example of an “accurate, but not truthful” statement is from the cold war. Allegedly, while at a summit, Eisenhower and Khrushchev took a walk, just the two of them, and one challenged the other to a race back to the building. Ike came in first.

    The NY Times reported: “Eisenhower beats Khrushchev in foot race.”

    Pravda reported: “In a race between heads of state, our glorious leader, Nikita Khrushchev, came in second, while the Imperialist Eisenhower was next to last.”

    Absolutely accurate. Absolutely not truthful.

  11. perspicio Says:

    ***E. g. McArdle rights [sic] that Warren and her colleagues “defined anyone with $1000 worth of medical bills as having a medical bankruptcy…”

    That is: once again, what McArdle wrote was accurate — but not true.

    Actually, it is neither true nor accurate. Accurate would be, “defined any bankruptcy that includes at least $1000 worth of medical bills as a medical bankruptcy”. They did not say that anyone with over $1k of medical debt is bankrupt.

  12. Nylund Says:

    This is my theory to how Megan works:

    Come up with a conclusion. Use Google to find some “facts” to support the pre-determined conclusion. This will involve a quick skimming of a few random academic papers for facts that fit the thesis. Speak of such just acquired facts as if they are things she’s always known, “Oh, who HASN’T read the seminal 1996 paper on beach erosion by Gamlet, et al?” The more cavalier she is about using such numbers, the better. It gives off an air familiarity with things she likely just half-read moments ago. Since reading any responses or counter arguments to the paper will likely not strengthen the case for her pre-determined thesis, this basic act of scholarship is outright ignored. As is, I suspect, basic proofreading.

    I’d argue that she does this, not in spite of her MBA training, but because of it. Its par for the course in business school. The mastery of false scholarship to feign expertise to those that know less is a great way to win boardroom arguments. Unfortunately for her, the audience is not a captive one in a room with only minutes to decide whether or not her conclusions are right, but a large group of readers all perfectly capable of double-checking her sources. Not surprisingly, people with actual expertise of the subject find many flaws and omissions in her work. Their years of research will trump her 20 minutes with Google every time.

    It is only at this point that her psyche comes into play. Her ego forces her to double-down on her mistakes, and when truly cornered to go with either, “My family is smarter than your family, so there!” or “It’s my calculator’s fault!” The truly humorous part of that last one is how prevalent it is amongst college freshman to argue that their calculator was wrong, not them when arguing about deductions on exams.

    The fundamental story is this: Megan fakes scholarship to advance an agenda. Real scholars step in and make her look stupid. She throws a hissy fit and plays the victim, garnering sympathy from those that share her desire to advance that agenda. I suspect many of them will be commenting to this very post.

    The end results is always the same. Everyone ends up arguing about Megan herself and not the shoddy work underlying the original complaint. In the end, her profile is raised from all the public discussion of her which only results in her being viewed as a true expert.

    • Ig Says:

      I suggest two corrections to this.
      “Use Google to find some ‘facts….” Actually, often not even this, just spewing forth opinion without any effort to present any facts. But you’re certainly correct about the doubling down.

      On the other hand,”Its par for the course in business school. The mastery of false scholarship to feign expertise to those that know less is a great way to win boardroom arguments.” is just bullshit, especially the final sentence. WTF do you know about boardroom arguments? Do you think they often involve references to scholarship? Thjis part of your post is as idiotic as the MM crap you are complaining about.


      • Having a friend who got an Executive MBA a few years back, which he described as basically consisting of the exchange of a large amount of money (yours) for a piece of paper that said “MBA” (theirs), I would tend to agree with Nylund. At a little party thrown by the school for graduating MBAs, my friend wlaked overto the Dean and said, “Thank you for everything.” The Dean shook his hand and sai, “Oh, no, thank you.”

      • Psuedonymous Bosch Says:

        I’d say it’s a pretty good description of one tactic that’s used by many case-method based MBAs (and probably others.) My spouse went through such a program and I’d say that there was definitely a type of classmate who did this. It’s not limited to scholarly papers — basically find any “authority” that supports your position, act as if that’s THE authority and everyone should be familiar with it. Dismiss any objection with a combination of patronizing sympathy for your opponents ignorance and outright derision of more aggressive opponents.

    • josh Says:

      The responsible portions of the internet ought to boycott the Atlantic until she is fired.

  13. Nylund Says:

    This post gets too much into Megan herself. let’s look at one aspect of the post.

    Megan says:
    “In her (in)famous paper on medical bankruptcies in 2001, Warren and her co-authors defined anyone with $1000 worth of medical bills as having a medical bankruptcy.”

    How would the common reader of her post interpret this sentence? I think they’d conclude that Warren says that anyone with $1,000 worth of medical bills is “bankrupt.” This is obviously silly. I have $1,000 in medical bills and I am not bankrupt.

    What did the study actually do? It looked at people who had filed for bankruptcy. Right there is the first distinction. Megan implies that Warren is declaring that certain people are bankrupt regardless of whether or not they actually are bankrupt. Why count non-bankrupt people as bankrupt just because they have bills? That is dumb. Good thing that despite what Megan implies, this wasn’t how things were done.

    What the study does is look at a subset of people that have filed for bankruptcy. IE, all these people ARE bankrupt (or at least claim to be). Warren is not artificially claiming anyone to be bankrupt.

    Second, what Warren, et al. want to do is separate out those who amongst this group of bankruptcy filers is bankrupt, in part, because of medical costs. They allow for four criteria to trigger this condition:

    if the debtor:
    1. cited illness or injury as a specific reason for bankruptcy. [That makes sense, right?]
    -or-
    2. lost at least two weeks of work-related income because of illness/injury [for people that live paycheck to paycheck, this could indeed cause one to not have enough to pay bills]
    -or-
    3. mortgaged a home to pay medical bills. [well, yes, mortgaging your home to pay medical bills would indeed suggest that medical bills are a big reason for your financial problems]
    -or-
    4. reported uncovered medical bills exceeding $1,000 in the past year.

    This last one is the one Megan has a problem with. It is indeed probably the most expansive of the four. One could argue that the results should be checked for robustness by excluding this one category. One cannot say that the results do not hold at all without actually doing the work (which Megan never does). There are three other categories of people in the data set after all! The results may not be contingent on this group (or if they are, please prove it.)

    Second, notice that it is not simply $1,000 in medical bills. It has the very important qualifier of “uncovered”. The “covered” bills are not included, because, well, if your bills are covered they probably aren’t a big part of your problem. Megan ignores this as this omission also serves to make the methodology of the paper seem suspect.

    In short, Megan leaves the reader with the impression that someone with $1,000 in medical bills, (covered or uncovered) is categorized as bankrupt (whether they are or not), and that this was the sole criteria Warren, et al. used. This is a very inaccurate representation of the methodology as is definitely not in the realm of open and honest debate.

    Note that this long comment is written in response to just ONE sentence of her post. Many other sentences are equally as dishonest and full of distortion. It would take DAYS (that I don’t have) to point out the rest.

    This poster calls this, “accurate, but not truthful.” I would say its more likely, “truthful, but not accurate.” The statement itself is CLOSE (ignoring uncovered vs. covered bills) to being a truthful statement of part of Warren, et al.’s methodology, but does it accurately describe their actual methodology? No. Of course not. Megan never intends it to. She can’t win the argument if she accurately and honestly explains the opposing position. She takes statements out of context, paraphrases, and omits all with the purpose of implying (without actually saying*) a conclusion that one cannot draw from reading the original source.

    *Megan knows her readers well and knows how to lead them to conclusions she wouldn’t dare explicitly state herself. She is quite good at taking a horse, marching it through the sun for hours, then leading it to water, but never actually telling it to drink. Sure, everything she does makes the drinking near certain, but should it happen, its not her responsibility. This gives her her most common defense, “I never actually said that, and its not my fault if you inferred that from what I wrote.” This is usually followed by some pitiful explanation of how what she REALLY meant was X, how if you interpreted her comments in this strange and contorted way, you’d have realized that. Therefore you’re the dumb one.

    • Tom Says:

      This is the problem. McArdle’s writing needs checking sentence by sentence…and no one has the time to do that as much as it would take to document all the problems. So a ton of stuff slips by the body politics immune system.

    • RhZ Says:

      “In her (in)famous paper on medical bankruptcies in 2001, Warren and her co-authors defined anyone with $1000 worth of medical bills as having a medical bankruptcy.”

      This may be the genius of Megan, in that different people perceive this statement in different ways, with different results, usually.

      Good readers immediately realize that the statement could not be possible, and just as quickly figure out that she must mean bankruptcies were presumed ‘medical’ in nature, and that she is simplifying the amount of money to some degree at the least.

      Now, the so-called ‘typo’ is rather glaring in neglecting one of the most important key words to boil down the information, but that’s what good readers will do.

      Then they will go away none the wiser, or think it actually makes sense, they just didn’t focus enough on exactly how it worked. They might even link to it because it seems pretty much on point.

      Typical conservatives, on the other hand, will readily believe the statement as written (or as read) and furthermore this will seem natural and right and proof positive that all these liberals are idiots.

      Then they keep reading and post a comment calling Megan a liberal main streamer.

      For the typical Megan reader, however, things are different. They will take the statement at face value and try to understand the mechanics of these studies and the underlying statistical analyses, as reflected through the Oracle of Megan, to reach their own conclusion, in true Galtian style.

      Down the wormhole she always goes, into some obviously superficial level of detail, trying so hard to help her readers understand the inner workings of the world.

      If finally the analysis is a bit muddled, it is only because Megan’s job is compounded for her need to explain for the betterment of the Atlantic’s readership, and her own.

  14. Wil Burns Says:

    JoeCItizen, Ms. McArdle is rarely “right” about anything. I know that you see starbursts when she speaks, but the woman is a liar.


  15. [...] Thomas Levenson continues what one gathers is a lengthy “Megan McArdle is Always Wrong” blog series with a post arguing that the Atlantic‘s business and economics editor typically engages in ad hominem argument and sleight of hand fallacies.    To illustrate this, Levenson engages in several paragraphs of name calling and selective and odd interpretation of evidence. [...]

  16. Michael Says:

    I hate that Megan McArdle has a job because she lies all the time, not despite it.


  17. [...] I honestly don’t understand why everyone hasn’t figured this out. [...]

  18. Nylund Says:

    I forgot to mention that out of those 4 categories, they are not mutually exclusive. One can fall under many categories. The table given in the report therefore makes it hard to decipher who falls under the “$1,000 uncovered bill” category, and none other. One can see from table two that the first three I listed result in at least 70% of the people categorized as having medical bankruptcies. The category Megan has problems with may well be sizable chunk, but are not the majority. Without actually doing the work, one cannot say what conclusions can be drawn from not including this subset.

    Megan is nitpicking over one small subset and implying the results do not hold for anyone else. This is the kind of statement that needs empirical backing for support and cannot just be assumed because “Megan said so.”

    Once again, all this for just ONE of Megan’s sentences. Refuting Megan in detail is a laborious process. She knows this. The explanations of the lies and distortions are always longer and more complicated than the original errors. This is in part what makes lies so powerful. Their simplicity and utter lack of a need for evidence allows them to spread easily, while the truths are slow, and complicated.

    • KWillow Says:

      In other words, she Baffles With Bullshit.

      • Bill Says:

        We use the term” buffaloes with bullshit” at work. Luckily we have laws of physics on our side at work too, being in a scientific field. Those that buffalo and leave chips all over everyone are rarely respected by the experts, the MBAs and marketing people are another story.

    • Bob Says:

      “The explanations of the lies and distortions are always longer and more complicated than the original errors. This is in part what makes lies so powerful. Their simplicity and utter lack of a need for evidence allows them to spread easily, while the truths are slow, and complicated.”

      Great point, and well said.

  19. Jon H Says:

    This is not really here nor there, but:

    I have concerns about the inclusion of gambling debt bankruptcy or addiction-related bankruptcy under any definition of “medical bankruptcy”.

    I realize that there’s medical aspects to each, however, bankruptcy in either case is not due to medical treatment, it’s due to *non*-treatment or self-medication.

    It’s not like Mr. Latent Problem Gambler gets ordered by the doctor to go to Vegas and blow $250,000, or else die a painful death.

    Likewise, if Corporate Heroin Addict loses his six figure job, burns his savings, and pawns everything he owns of value to get high, he didn’t do those things to pay for a doctor to save his life.

  20. Interested Visitor Says:

    Thanks for doing this so that the rest of us can refer to your work, YAY!

    Typo 2 – you definitely want “racheting” up, and is there maybe a word missing in the flip-side part?

    “…its flip side is that different. Everytime someone gets something thing wrong in a consequential way, the loss of trust should accelerate, ratcheing up with each such error detected..”

    With best regards.

  21. Strunk White Says:

    When discussing the fundamental dishonesty at the heart of McArdle’s mission, it seems essential to include this recent telling bit of nonsense:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/you-wont-believe-how-little-stimulus-well-get-if-we-diverted-the-bush-tax-cuts-into-stimulus-spending-2010-7

    A simple math error completely eviscerates the point of her post, yet the error remains uncorrected and unacknowledged, days later.

    But there, as here, the object of the game has nothing to do with accuracy or fairness.


  22. Writer TBogg, after pointing to your analysis, concludes with the question, “I really wonder if Megan McArdle is as stupid as she appears or if she is really just a sociopath. This is not to say that these two things are mutually exclusive…”

    Megan McArdle’s entire philosophy is the idealization of sociopathy.

    McArdle’s intellectual leader and the founder of modern-day libertarianism, Ayn Rand, literally was a sociopath who idealized a child murdering psychopath as a “real man”.

    Megan McArdle was such a fan of sociopath Ayn Rand that for a long time McArdle blogged under the pseudonym of one of Ayn Rand’s fictional characters (Galt).

    Before Ayn Rand’s fictional character Galt, Ayn Rand was fixated on the real-life child-murdering psychopath William Hickman, who appears to have been the psychological template that Ayn Rand used for all of her subsequent fictional “heroes”.

    To repeat:

    To understand modern-day libertarianism, and modern-day libertarians like Megan McArdle, it’s essential to understand how the intellectual founder of modern-day libertarianism, Ayn Rand, was a sociopath who idealized a child-murdering psychopath as the essence of her “real” libertarian “man”.

  23. Batocchio Says:

    This is superb work. My favorite paragraph:

    In other words: McArdle correctly describes one conclusion of this paper in a way that yields for its readers a false conclusion about what the paper itself actually says. And look what that false impression implies: if medical bankruptcy is a trivial problem, society-wide, then Warren can be shown to be both a sloppy scholar and, as McArdle more or less explicitly says, a dishonest one as well.

    Wrath of Khan in German gets major style points, though.

  24. Lee Hartmann Says:

    also:

    …I’m enjoying the fact that for once, I seem to have struck a nerve, chez McArdle—Susan of Texas reports that she tweets me as “some idiot,” which, as I note elsewhere has been a term of endearment around my home base of Boston since 2004.

    And she does have nerve.

  25. Ottovbvs Says:

    It was actually Dennis Healy (not Roy Hattersley) who said it of Sir Geoffry Howe but otherwise you’re on the money. She’s a complete phony. I got suckered in because of her resume and read a few of her pieces and they are largely heavily slanted polemics larded with ad homs. Keep up the good work, she needs a well qualified Jiminy Cricket.


  26. [...] Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Cite The Atlantic’s “Business and Economics Editor&… Update: Greetings to everyone coming here via TBogg, Susan of Texas, Eschaton and Brad DeLong — and my thanks to [...] [...]


  27. Bravo on doing the heavy lifting on a long overdue fact checking. I’ve noticed the same fast and loose with the facts as you have — I originally chalked it up to ignorance, but it was too consistent.

    When McArcdle claimed there were “No Financial Villians” at the root cause of ther economic crisis, I had to reach for the keyboard:

    http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2009/07/no-financial-villians/

    Another example:

    Smart People Saying Dumb Things http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2008/10/smart-people-saying-dumb-things/

  28. Tom Says:

    Fascinating. A masterful dismembering of McCardle no doubt, if as intellectually dishonest as the target of the piece.
    Even assuming the Medical bankruptcy numbers are not fudged (a sizeable assumption), it is not explained how putting the government in charge is going to make things better. Especially as the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ does not do anything about the cost of medical care, rendering its second goal moot. As to its first, I will not feel safer with Washington bureaucrats calling the shots, will you?

    • KWillow Says:

      Instituting and enforcing sane, intelligent regulations is not “putting the government in charge”. This is a situation, like funding space flight and research, which cannot be done at all by Privatization, let alone done well.

      It looks to me (and I think Susan pointed it out) that Megan is one of the many astroturf “sources” for right-wing lies. Already her sneaking, lying column is being quoted just as if it said something true. She seems to have gone to extra trouble with her lies and innuendos; probably because she wants to buy a house.

      • Tom Says:

        “Sane, intelligent regulations”? Obviously you’re joking. I doubt anyone has actually read the Act, even assuming they began when it was passed.
        Only look at the European democracies, which huddled in the safety of U.S. defense spending for decades while they engaged in massively expensive social programs. If they are an example of what happens when “sane, intelligent regulations” are instituted and enforced, I’ll take crazy and stupid. Oops. We have that in Washington now!

    • Jim Bales Says:

      Tom-who-is-not-Tom-Levenson writes:
      Even assuming the Medical bankruptcy numbers are not fudged (a sizeable assumption).
      It seems that he wants us to believe that we can only make assumptions about the incidence of medical bankruptcies in the US.

      However, the incidence of medical bankruptcies has been studied with some care, and rather than assuming, Tom-who-is-not-Tom-Levenson could have researched the findings of those peer-reviewed and published studies.

      In fact, Tom Levenson did just that, and discovered that Ms McArdle was less than forthright in her post, which led to Prof. Levenson’s post above.

      In fact, Nylund also did just that, and discovered:

      “[Megan makes] a very inaccurate representation of the methodology as is definitely not in the realm of open and honest debate.”

      Note that this [Nylund's] long comment is written in response to just ONE sentence of her post. Many other sentences are equally as dishonest and full of distortion. It would take DAYS (that I don’t have) to point out the rest.”

      In short, the above comment by Tom-who-is-not-Tom-Levenson exhibits a stunningly McArdle-esque aversion to checking the facts before posting. I nominate it for the McMegan Copycat award.

      Best,
      Jim Bales

    • Jim Says:

      As a matter of fact, the medical bankruptcy numbers were fudged.

      By McArdle.

      Which is the point of this entire article.

      Of course you’re welcome to keep making major medical decisions based on the advice of someone like her who can’t read, can’t write, and clearly can’t do arithmetic.

    • Craig Pennington Says:

      To pile on:
      Even assuming the Medical bankruptcy numbers are not fudged (a sizeable assumption)

      If you have a specific objection to make regarding the medical bankruptcy numbers, make it. The methodology is spelled out. Megan made a bad-faith objection and is getting called on it. By “Bad faith” I mean that Megan has made an argument that give the appearance of being accurate while being both inaccurate and misleading. In more honest circles, making such bad faith arguments is known as lying.

      Note that the point of the post to which you responded was not to argue for any policy, but to point out Megan’s dishonesty. Your request that it be something else is a red herring.

      • Tom Says:

        I paid the author the compliment of operating on the assumption stated. It is always a dicey matter to accept statistical data at face value. Dwelling on a single sentence, in which I set the premise (i.e. the numbers are correct) is lowering yourself to the level you impute to McArdle.

      • Craig Pennington Says:

        Tom,

        Do you think Ms. McArdle accurately presented the author’s argument? That is, after all, the subject of the post to which you responded.

  29. The Fankor Says:

    Anyone who has never put medical bills on a credit card has never had serious medical bills.

  30. larry, dfh Says:

    What a wonderful El Greco painting!

  31. oasis Says:

    Great post.I like vedio.It’s ok.

    http://www.sanukyogamat.com

  32. Jim Bales Says:

    Tom-who-is-not-Tom-Levenson asks:
    “As to its first, I will not feel safer with Washington bureaucrats calling the shots, will you?”

    I, for one, will feel safer with Washington bureaucrats calling the shots rather than insurance company executives, board-members, bureaucrats, accountants, corporate lawyers, and stock analysts.

    I wonder — why does Tom-who-is-not-Tom-Levenson feel safer placing his life in the hands of people who believe that making money for others is more important than keeping him breathing?

    Best,
    Jim Bales

    • Tom Says:

      You speak as though this were an “either or” scenario, which it is not. I am no more happy with the current situation, in which individuals are far removed from their medical care, than I would be if the government were the middle man. However, the alternative to Obamacare is not a continuation of business as usual. If you care to do some research of your own, you will discover several proposals that offer genuine “reform”, by which is meant empowering people to make choices for themselves. I realize that most American citizens do not rise to your lofty intellectual status, but I believe they are able to make basic health care decisions. If they do not, it is not a government function to step in and make decisions for them. That scenario truly is “either or” – either the individual has power or the government does. It is zero sum.

      • Jim Bales Says:

        Tom-who-is-not-Tom-Levenson originally posted the paragraph:
        “Even assuming the Medical bankruptcy numbers are not fudged (a sizeable assumption), it is not explained how putting the government in charge is going to make things better. Especially as the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ does not do anything about the cost of medical care, rendering its second goal moot. As to its first, I will not feel safer with Washington bureaucrats calling the shots, will you?”

        Now, he doubts that “putting the government in charge is going to make things better.” Better than what? He does not say, but from the context the obvious alternative is the methods of paying for health care that were in place before the passage of the PPACA (i.e., the status quo ante).

        I ask why he prefers the older system to the new. Rather than answering the question, Tom-who-is-not-Tom-Levenson changes the topic, claiming that “the alternative to Obamacare is not a continuation of business as usual”, and asserts that there exist other proposals for methods of funding health care.

        Proposed programs do not exist. (If they did, we would call them “extant programs”). So, we really do face an either/or scenario. Either you obtain health care coverage from a traditional source (e.g., the employer-provided health insurance that I use), or you obtain health care coverage from one of the new programs provided in PPACA, or (for the time being) you go without health care coverage and, should you become seriously ill, the rest of us will have to pay for those medical expenses that you cannot.

        In any system for paying for health care, someone(s) have to make the decisions as to what will be paid for and what will not.

        I would prefer that those decision makers be answerable to the people whose health care is being paid for. It seems that Tom-who-is-not-Tom-Levenson prefers that those decision makers be answerable to stockholders. This is the either-or we face in the real world, today.

        Best,
        Jim Bales


  33. [...] the rest here: Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Cite The Atlantic’s “Business and Economics Editor”: Further t… Share and [...]

  34. Bob Says:

    Yes, a characteristic that seems to be present in most of McArdle’s work that I’ve read is bad faith. There always seems to be an a priori conclusion that some liberal position (invariably one that would cut into some industry’s profits) is bad, followed by shoddy and intellectually dishonest arguments arm-twisted into supporting that conclusion. She’s just a shill and a shameless bullshitter, which makes her pose of being an independent-minded libertarian even more annoying. It just goes to show that commentators like her who shamelessly serve the interests of certain powers-that-be can never be wrong too many times to lose their standing — if anything, it’s probably an inverse relationship. Even if worst-came-to-worst, like Bill Krystol, she could always get a job writing opinion pieces at the Washington Post.

  35. Slamdunk Says:

    Well backed argument. Thanks for questioning these “experts” and making them show their cards (or lack thereof).


  36. A fine argument and a good read, what little of McArdle’s work I’ve read has never sat entirely well with me, and although I would probably not go as far as you do in your criticism of McArdle I really think you’ve hit the nail on the head.

  37. Jim Hagen Says:

    So, what’s your point?


  38. [...] Friends Don't Let Friends Cite The Atlantic A critique of McArdle 's 'analysis'.Source:http://inversesquare.wordpress.com/2010/07/24/why-friends-dont-let-friends-cite-the-atlantics-busine… Permalink Monday July 26th [...]

  39. aimai Says:

    Tom L,
    Its a great, great, piece and well deserving of its internet spread! But just a quick glance at your comments reveals that Megan will always have her defenders–because she’s a true product of the unfree market in bullshit we have today. She’s a paid propagandist who, as everyone has noted, is paid specifically to baffle morons with fancy talk, handwaving, and pretend academic credibility. And there are a lot of morons, like the “not tom Levenson” up above, who lap it up. Her other feature, as you’ve correctly noted, is that she is shameless, literally. She simply can’t experience shame, or guilt, when discovered in her various obvious lies. She’s not paid for that. A quick perusal of her own postings on her own life, however, reveals that if she were not receiving weekly and monthly paychecks for spouting the corporatist/anti reg line she would actually be lying in the street wailing for more regulation. Every single time McCardle describes her own situation as a consumer, or admits to the precariousness of her economic condition (unemployed MBA, no job in her field, married to an astroturfer who essentially sells bullshit on commission) she winds up demanding more help and more regulation and more beniies from everone around her (the post office, strangers, her landlord, the bus system). She is only professionally opposed *other people* receiving help or the benefits of regulation. In other words not the portrait of a blinking idiot, but the portrait of a shameless, lying, hack. But no matter how low McCardle stoops, not matter how absurd her attacks on, say, a well respected Harvard Professor whose work is admired around the world, she will always find defenders who are as stupid, venal, and foolish as she. Because she’s singing the song they want to hear. They’re like the aged, flatulent, crapulous Johns of an professional virgin prostitute. No matter how many other customers they see coming in and out of her door, no matter how much money left on her pillow, and no matter how obvious her yawns of boredom and disgust, they continue to believe they are her one, true, love.

    aimai

    aimai


  40. The first job of honest journalism is to call bullshit bullshit. Our press instead insists on quoting and requoting bullshit without assessing its truth at all.

  41. Ed Says:

    How to write your own Megan McArdle piece, from several months back:

    http://www.ginandtacos.com/2009/10/21/how-to-write-your-own-megan-mcardle-piece/

  42. jonesysview Says:

    Precise and to the point. I love this. In the wise words of so many, ‘Keep on truckin”.


  43. [...] McArdle also grossly mis-states the contents of another academic paper, but fortunately this piece does the heavy lifting on that misrepresentation – hat tip [...]


  44. [...] also grossly mis-states the contents of another academic paper, but fortunately this piece does the heavy lifting on that misrepresentation – hat tip [...]

  45. Mike S Says:

    OK, I’ll admit it – I don’t see where Megan was disingenuous with the medical bankruptcy numbers. The best I can determine is you read her as saying anyone with $1000 or more medical debt was treated as a bankruptcy, even if they didn’t file bankruptcy. I think it was clear from the context that the study was only on actual bankruptcies.

    From the part of the study you quote, anyone who filed bankruptcy having “reported uncovered medical bills exceeding $1,000 in the past years” was considered a medical bankruptcy (actually, a major one). Megan was saying this was a low bar to use for determining if a bankruptcy was medical in nature. While that is clearly a subjective point, I don’t think she twists anything in the report to make it.

    • Jim Bales Says:

      Mike S,

      I can’t speak for Tom L., but speaking for myself I agree that in the context of Ms McArdle’s post, the most likely interpretation would be that “McArdle was claiming that Warren et al. treated anyone with $1,000+ of medical bills who declared bankruptcy as having a medical bankruptcy.”

      2) However, that claim in quotes in my #1 is not accurate. An accurate claim is “Warren et al. treated anyone who with $1,000+ of uncovered medical bills who declared bankruptcy as having a medical bankruptcy.”

      In other words, McArdle downplays the fact that the people Warren et al. ascribe as having a medical bankruptcy are people with substantial unpaid medical bills who are in bankruptcy.

      Either McArdle was confused, or she wrote in bad faith, or she simply didn’t care if she was accurate.

      If this were an isolated incident, I am confident that Tom would give McArdle the benefit of doubt and ascribe her error to confusion or carelessness.

      However, McArdle has a long history of just such errors.(To see this history, search for prior blog posts by Tom on McArdle). Given that history, Tom has concluded that “the serial errors that all fall on the side that supports her initial claims and that recur again and again in her work suggest to me that something other than mere intellectual sloth and sloppiness is the driver.”

      Personally, I am not convinced she has sufficient self-awareness to be intentional in the manner Tom is asserting, but she may very well, and it is certainly reasonable to treat her behavior as if it is intentional.

      Best,
      Jim Bales

      • Tom Says:

        Jim — thanks for doing the heavy lifting here. We’ll agree to disagree a little on McArdle’s intentions here.

      • RhZ Says:

        Jim’s got it basically right, Mike, but pls note what the issue is here.

        Megan says, well this is study is obviously suspect, ‘only’ 1000 minimum. And she knows nothing about statistical analysis, nor this particular area of study, nor is she interested in actually doing research to understand better, that is well-proven.

        So her concerns about the validity of the study stem from…her own ignorance, and, perhaps, from the fact that this is what she is paid to do. Not because this baseline of 1000 is some kind of statistical game within the set of related studies.

        All this data is available at the Federal level, and its rough data. Items are not broken down into many kinds of neat categories. Researchers have to use the data they can get.

        Statistical programs can look for correlation between different stats. Correlation is not causation, but finding correlations can give us insight into the numbers. And these insights must be confirmed through additional research into the numbers and how they have been tabulated, how the breakdowns have been defined.

        One point in these comments is that paid but uncovered medical bills (i.e., putting the costs on your card because you feel you have no choice) might not be included in the calculations. So someone who got tagged for 20 k in emergency medical bills and puts it on his card prior to bankruptcy would not show up in the stat we are discussing (I am sorry, I mean the stat that Megan is undermining). But we don’t know, and Megan of all people is not going to be tracking down any information for our edification.

        By setting a minimum of 1000 in uncovered, unpaid medical bills, in all certainty a good percentage of cases will have 2, 5, 10 grand or more. I would like to see the ranges there.

        Sure, Megan would like to imply that Warren and her ilk have chosen a very low mark so as to push up the number of medical bankruptcies, and this might not be disingenuous enough for you.

        But she is a liar, and won’t actually go to get real information, preferring instead to spin whatever information is handy into whatever she needs at the moment.

        So why bother? Do you really believe it could be true? I dare you to research it, you too can prove Megan McCardle wrong!!

      • Craig Pennington Says:

        Warren et al. treated anyone who with $1,000+ of uncovered medical bills who declared bankruptcy as having a medical bankruptcy.

        One thing that should also be emphasized (especially since we’re talking about context) is that a “medical bankruptcy” is explicitly defined in the Warren papers NOT as a bankruptcy caused by medical expenses, but as a bankruptcy where medical expenses were one contributing factor. The title of Warren’s 2001 paper was “Illness And Injury As Contributors To Bankruptcy” and the conclusion in the abstract of th latest Warren paper is “Illness and medical bills contribute to a large and increasing share of US bankruptcies.”

        Thus Ms. McArdle’s argument really ends up amounting to “since there exist irresponsible people who have medical bills in addition to much more massive debts, you can’t include all bankruptcies with $1000 of uncovered medical bills in a count of bankruptcies to which medical expenses contributed. (And never mind if you can imagine people who charged all of their medical expenses and so have no uncovered medical bills which are excluded from your count.)” Which is weak.

        via Rortybomb (via Balloon Juice.)


  46. [...] also grossly mis-states the contents of another academic paper, but fortunately this piece does the heavy lifting on that misrepresentation – hat tip [...]


  47. [...] Levenson renews his sonnage of Megan McArdle. Susan of Texas at The Hunting of the Snark joins in on the [...]


  48. [...] as Thomas Levenson points out: But as McArdle completely failed to acknowledge, Zhu does so while using somewhat more [...]

  49. ian Says:

    Where I was truly impressed by the shallowness of McCardle’s argumentation, beyond the argument from authority and the ad hominem swipes, is when she claims an upbringing in an intellectually stimulating household as evidence of the superiority of her position (argument from borrowed authority) and, of course, the argument from stupidity conveniently announcing itself with the phrase “It is not clear…”

  50. Ottovbvs Says:

    She’s getting very touchy. OTB had a piece up defending her and several folks chimed in with demolitions to which she responded, a bit defensively. She promises a much longer critique of Warren so you could be busy Tom.

    • Tom Says:

      OTB? — since when do Off Track bookies care about medical bankruptcy and the rest….

      Oh.

      BTW: thanks for reading.


  51. [...] as Thomas Levenson points out: But as McArdle completely failed to acknowledge, Zhu does so while using somewhat more [...]

  52. musa Says:

    Where can i Subscribe


  53. [...] Megan McArdle tries to discredit Elizabeth Warren. Ends up discrediting herself. More here, and here. [...]


  54. [...] recently tried to do a takedown of Elizabeth Warren — and failed. How badly did she fail? Let Tom Levensen explain: To be fair Zhu concludes that overconsumption — spending too much on housing, cars and [...]


  55. [...] to be demonstrably false; in McArdle’s case, by everyone from Brad DeLong,  RJ Eskow and Tom Levenson to her own commenters; in Lord’s, by everyone from libertarians to conservatives in his own [...]


  56. [...] my last post on this subject, I compared elements of her hatchet job on Warren to the techniques Andrew Breitbart uses in his [...]


  57. [...] We have already seen that Megan lacks the ability to perform basic math functions, and bases her slanderous attacks on people she despises, like Elizabeth Warren, on her misreadings of academic studies and deliberate falsifications and omissions. [...]


  58. [...] McArdle, the Atlantic Monthly blogger fond of making up nonsensical arguments about the economy, health care, and education policy, has waded into climate policy with similarly catastrophic [...]


  59. [...] Tom Levenson: The old joke* about Richard Nixon asked “How can you tell when he’s lying?” [...]

  60. fakhikid Says:

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  61. thanks for the great article. Its very help me. You can visit my blog at http://embasurvival.com/ this blog focus on bussines inspiration, related with your blog. We can discuse anything.


  62. [...] So again, why thunder on about moral hazard or invoke a paper on fertility and pensions as a prop to a complaint about a government mandate?   Most likely, IMHO, is that McArdle is just trying to overawe her audience into ignoring the flaws in her argument.  I believe the technical term for this is “baffle them with bullshit.”  (Heaven forfend!  Could such a thing be?—ed.)  (Yes—TL) [...]


  63. [...] I’m actually sympathetic to that view, for all the joy I’ve taken in McArdle gigging over the last few years.  It would be better for both the body politic and [...]

  64. learn to dj Says:

    Hi there. I need to to ask something…is the following a wordpress webpage as we are thinking about changing across to WP. In addition did you make this theme by yourself? With thanks.

  65. Tom Says:

    It is a wordpress blog, and I chose the theme from one of the regular offerings, customizing it only so far as to choose a header pic.

  66. Ben Cisco Says:

    Outstanding takedown, and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving target.

  67. Marxist Hypocrisy 101 Says:

    Stupidity and Lies used to defend more Stupidity and Lies.

    I guess when you’re playing apologist to someone as dishonest, corrupt, incompetent, sollipsistic and downright brainless as Elizabeth Warren that becomes a necessity.

  68. Pod Zastaw Says:

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Thank you so much, However I am going through troubles with your RSS.
    I don’t understand the reason why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone else having similar RSS issues? Anyone who knows the answer can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


  69. […] McArdle’s Hack Post on Elizabeth Warren’s Scholarship” by Mike Konzcal, Why Friends Don’t Let Friends Cite The Atlantic’s “Business and Economics Editor&#… by Tom Levenson, and “How Hard Are Fractions, Really: Elizabeth Warren Scares Her/Megan […]


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