Megan McArdle is Always Wrong (Again!): Kitchen History Edition

There are those who think the least snark directed Megan McArdle’s way is a waste of time — that her Our Lady of Perpetual Error persona is a considered ploy to grab enough attention to make it worth her masters’ while to retain her as Business and Economics Editor of the Atlantic. (Yes, the sound you just heard was Emerson spinning in his grave.)

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Me, 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 the culture at large if McArdle’s fifteen minutes simply dwindled to their inevitable end. Certainly, I’m not helping every time some new howler evokes a bloggy response.

But the problem is that her quarter of an hour is not yet over, and McArdle is still The Atlantic’s most prominent economics blogger, and she continues to weigh in on a whole raft of stuff about which she willfully knows nothing, all in order to advance an agenda that has only one item:  to comfort the comfortable.

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So, despite the truth that each time someone points out she’s made another howler it only adds to her profile, I think there is a duty to do so. Once upon a time, in organizations that saw themselves as doing real journalism for audiences with an understanding of the term,  errors actually mattered.  Anyone starting out would get a chance or two, or even three.  But when gastritis broke your calculator once too often, you’d seek a new line of work.  You’d go become a shill, perhaps — a time honored retreat into expense account heaven for plenty of hacks who couldn’t hack the hard work of actually getting stuff right … or for whom, as in McArdle’s case, getting things wrong is a feature and not a bug.  That this hasn’t happened here is a problem for McArdle’s colleagues, I think, or it ought to be…about which a little more below.

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So what’s today’s problem post?  Nothing overtly political actually, which in some ways makes the case of McArdle’s unfitness for her claimed role yet more clear.   In her post, “The Economics of Kitchens,” she attempts to engage an ongoing discussion between Paul Krugman and Tyler Cowen on the pace of innovation.  Krugman and Cowen point out that there isn’t a whole lot new in kitchens today compared with those of sixty years ago.  Not so, says McArdle.  Rather, we live now in culinary paradise compared to those bad old days:

1953 kitchens did not have electric drip coffee brewers, stand mixers, blenders, food processors, or crock pots….

Err, no.  I’ll give McArdle this.  Electric drip coffee makers do first appear in the 1970s.  The electric vacuum coffee maker was, however, a common appliance and a very competitive marketplace. Not to mention that it was a technology that offered such incredibly cool options as the Faberware Coffee Robot:

Stand mixers in the 1950s?  Oh, you mean the standing mixer invented in 1908 by Herbert Johnson, sold to commercial bakers in 1915, and released for the home as the KitchenAid Food Preparer in…wait for it…1919?  Sunbeam released its cheaper alternative in the ’30s, and in 1954, (that kitchen of the 50s thing again) one could actually purchase a KitchenAid in a color other than white.

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Blenders? Same story. The blender was invented in 1922 first as a tool for soda counters, and the iconic Waring Blender hit the market in 1937.  By 1954, one million had been sold. As a sidenote, the Vitamix Corporation introduced a competitor to the Waring machine, and in 1949 sold it with the aid of a thirty minute broadcast on a brand new medium:  WEWS TV in Cleveland, in what is thought to be the first ever direct response ad.

You get the idea.  In the list above, food processors and slow cookers are in fact inventions that have their roots in the sixties and their commercial release in the early 70s.  Give McArdle that — but the point to take away from this is that in a list of five statements of fact, McArdle gets two wrong unequivocally, is deceptive in a third case (there were no automatic drip coffeemakers, but automatic makers using other brewing methods were readily available) and right only in two cases.  .400 may be fabulous in baseball.  In journalism, it wouldn’t even propel you to the Cape Cod League.

Then there’s this:

…aside from the privileged few who could afford copper, most Americans were cooking on thin, low-quality stainless steel and aluminum pans that deformed easily…

McArdle knows this how?  It’s a pretty bald declaration that would have come as a shock to a company like Lodge (founded 1896) or Wagner (founded 1891).  And if you want to think about the availability of high-end cookware aimed at more regular folks, what about the company born of a trip to Paris in 1952, on which Chuck Williams first encountered “classic French cooking equipment like omelet pans and souffle molds whose quality I’d never seen in the U.S.” Williams opened his first store in 1956 in the then very ordinary small-town farming community of Sonoma, California.  Williams-Sonoma proved to have legs, I believe.

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Again, the point isn’t that one store in Sonoma in 1956 = sauciers for everyone.  It is that McArdle has neither knowledge nor diligence enough to investigate even this really elementary question of fact:   whether or not Americans in the ’50s cooked in lots of different kinds of pots.

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And how about this:

I don’t believe that they have gone without fresh produce for six to eight months at a time, as my mother did in her childhood–and was told to be grateful for the frozen vegetables which hadn’t been available when her mother was young…Is the shift to flash frozen produce greater, or less great, than the shift from flash frozen to the fresh produce made possible by falling trade barriers, rising air travel, and the advent of container shipping?

There’s a lot wrong with this little passage, but here, let me just point out that McArdle is simply wrong in what she implies here about the history of the transport of refrigerated food.  The earliest prototype of a mechanically cooled railroad car received a US patent in 1880.  It certainly did take a long time for that to yield practical diesel-powered refrigeration on rails, but the use of natural ice for refrigerating specially designed rail cars — “reefers” dates back to the mid 19th century.  By the early 1880s, the Swift company were using ice-cooled cars to deliver 3,000 carcasses a week from the midwest to Boston.  When ice production on industrial scale took off around the turn of the twentieth century, refrigeration on rails became so pervasive that 183,000 reefer cars were on US rails by 1930.

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All of which is to say that the delivery of fresh food to locations distant from production is something that has evolved over the last century and a half — and is not simply, or even mostly, the result of falling trade barriers, air transport or containers.

Or, in other words, McArdle — again — knows not whereof she speaks.

Of course, this being a piece by McArdle, it is not possessed merely of  factual howlers.  Misused citations also do their duty.

For one:  McArdle writes that you can tell Americans in the ’50s ate badly by looking to the sources:

It shows in the cookbooks.  The Betty Crocker is full of economizing tips: ways to stretch ground beef by adding Wheaties; noodle and rice rings that artfully disguise the fact that there isn’t much protein to go around; “one egg” cakes praised for being economical.  This was not a handout for welfare recipients; it was expected that the average housewife would be anxiously counting the cost of the eggs and milk used in her baked goods, and looking for ways to stretch out even cheap cuts of meat at the end of the month.

A couple of things here:  cookbooks published in the late ’40s and early ’50s often retained some of the traces of WW II rationing; they are very useful documents for the social history of that era, but they are not wholly reliable guides to the cooking practices of the post-rationing world.

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More to the point of method and intellectual honesty, there’s the question of whether or not a 50s era “average housewife” text is that different from later, similar works.  I checked my ’75 edition of The Joy of Cooking, a perhaps slightly more upmarket cookbook than the Betty Crocker, and I find that when you get to the ground meat section, for example, there is a section on stretching animal proteins with starches, how you flavor such mixtures and so on. (And I’m not even going to go into the wealth of “improving” cookbooks that were also the rage in the ’50s, and that would give the lie to McArdle’s suggestion that those benighted days were wholly nasty, brutish, and full of hamburger helpers.  I’ve got a classic double-volume edition of the Gourmet cookbook from that period that shows that would be pink-Himalayan saltanistas would have had plenty of guidance.)

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And finally, this: it wouldn’t be a McArdle piece in all its glory without a bit of gratuitious viciousness to the poor:

Now, I’m sure there are still people in this country who worry about the price of adding an extra egg to their cakes–but they are not the average, or even close to the average.

Current percentage of Americans in poverty?  As of 2009, 14.3% nationwide, according the US Census Bureau. Almost exactly the same proportion — %14.7 — American households suffered food insecurity according to the Department of Agriculture.

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That is to say, those who might weigh the price of eggs may not be not average — but more than one out of every eight Americans had a moment recently when they might have thought twice and thrice about cracking that last shell  — or rather, had no cake at all to ponder.

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This, of course, is the point to which McArdle was tending this whole time.  Even here, in a seemingly weightless post about cooking and memory,  McArdle is still working her one consistent vein of propaganda:  We live now at the apex of history, in the best of all possible worlds and hence would alter the existing power structure at our own great risk … and BTW f*ck the poor.  Same old, same old, in other words and just as dishonestly advanced as in the more obviously political of her work.  Which makes it more dangerous, I think, not less.

Oh well.  I could and probably should have got to this point in the story much sooner.  But all the overkill above is actually aimed at anyone who still takes McArdle seriously on any score — and it is especially intended to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind about the damage she does by association to anyone and any institution that claims to be serious about journalism.  That she still survives — hell, holds a prominent position at The Atlantic — casts a shadow, fairly or not, over the work of the genuinely thoughtful real journalists who still publish there, folks like James Fallows and Ta-Nehisi Coates along with many others.

As they care for their reputation, they must wince at the collateral damage inflicted every time McArdle hits the “publish” button.

Images: “Coffee Robot” Original 1938 hang tag.
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Diego Velasquez, Old Woman Frying Eggs, 1618
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Pieter Claesz Tafel mit Hummer, Silberkanne, großem Berkemeyer, Früchteschale, Violine und Büchern, 1641.
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49 Comments on “Megan McArdle is Always Wrong (Again!): Kitchen History Edition”


  1. Tom, did you see this?

    @asymmetricinfo Megan McArdle
    Yes, I just spent virtually all day researching the history of kitchen appliances. http://bit.ly/dNiEtJ

    My guess is that she spent the day either watching QVC or reading product catalogues from Viking and Sub Zero.

  2. aimai Says:

    Great post, Tom. McMuddled really deserves it as well as the specific coup de grace at the end. Food history isn’t really all that much of a mystery if you even care enough to like to eat and read about it. I think what is so jaw dropping about this particular piece of Megabomination is that its so gratuitously wrongheaded. Megan likes to think of herself as some kind of public intellectual/reader/all purpose pundette and she can’t even be bothered to have read the wide variety of popular works that women of our class read for leisure/pleasure? I’m thinking of Crazy Salad, the great study of American Cooking Schools, or the big book on the history of Chicago/Wheat and Meat (Urban Metropolis) or hell anything by Jane and Michael Stern (Road Food or their study of fifties food replete with instructions for the lu-au and the bridal shower).

    For a woman who is 37 if she’s a day Megan’s writing is astonishingly juvenile. Not merely because its so bad but because Megan writes as though the world began for the rest of us when Megan first opened her eyes in wonder. Its as though there’s no there, there, for her–no past beyond her past, no perceptions beyond her perceptions, no mommies beyond her mommy, no facts beyond her horizon. That’s all well and good if you are hired to write a column entitled “What Megan McCardle bought today with Megan’s money!” or “What am I going to have for dinner tonight?” No doubt followed by the equally imperative blog post “What’s in my refrigerator right now?” Perhaps we could call this the Bilbo Baggins approach to writing “What have I got in my brainses?” But she thinks she’s writing something generically, universally, globally true every time. What Megan is having for dinner is what the entire world is having for dinner–or, if they aren’t, its because they are poor and stupid and made the wrong choices.

    aimai


  3. “McArdle is still working her one consistent vein of propaganda: We live now at the apex of history, in the best of all possible worlds and hence would alter the existing power structure at our own great risk … and BTW f*ck the poor.”

    I thought the main question in the McCardle post was if progress in some sense has been slower since 1950 or so than before. McCardle is a libertarian, so I don’t claim she doesn’t oppose policy to help the poor. She’s hardly unique in this view. I don’t think I see as the point of the post however.

    • aimai Says:

      I think brucetheeconomist’s point is as mistaken as if, reading the first part of Moby Dick, one were to say “this is a book written by a librarian and I can expect to see another volume devoted entirely to A is for Apple. Megan’s work is, first of all, neither libertarian nor anarchist but supremely propgandistic for the corporate interests who pay her, and her husband, to perform like trained poodles. The important thing to remember when reading Megan is that each blog post is like a tiny fragment of a larger, submerged, iceberg. To understand the formation and the movement of the iceberg it is necessary to understand ice, not necessary to measure any given point and its elevation above the surface.

      Even when Megan writes her ostensible “personal” posts, like the infamous paen to Himalayan Salt or her discussions of her personal finances and her mortgage she writes from a certain perspective. That perspective is always defensive of upper class interests and mores. Its always kiss up/kick down. And its always self interested in the sense that Megan knows. or believes, that as long as she offers the wealthiest and most powerful aid and comfort, backrubs and sympathy, she will be able to maintain her toehold on middle class existence. In that sense Megan is a “knowledge” worker if you replace “knowledge” with “misinformation.” She and her spouse are not so much masters of the universe as lapdogs to it.

      aimai


  4. Krugman was discussing the huge technological advancement from wood and ice to gas and electricity, and the enormous difference it made on cooking and housework. We all thought we’d have robots and replicators by now instead of newer electric products, but nothing transformative has happened since before the 1050s.

    McArdle ignores all that for several reasons–she has been trying to chip away at liberal Krugman’s reputation for years and she talks up innovation to implicitly praise current corporations’ contributions to society. She has a running theme of how the poor is better off now than rich people used to be, thanks to cheaper consumer goods and commodities and therefore public assistance is unnecessary, or at least should be minimized as much as possible. She also wants us to know that vegetables and fruits are available to us year-round because of (conservative) political reasons, namely “falling trade barriers.”

    It’s very slick and manipulative and pure wing-nut under the surface, but few people look under the surface.

    • aimai Says:

      Yes, Susan of T, I couldn’t agree more. That whole “frozen foods” thing was a total “tell,” to me, its one of her sort of security blanket/safety word things. She returns to the notion that anyways the free market has meant that even poor americans live better than…. so what are you people complaining about? This is a bog standard right wing argument in favor of exporting our jobs–and one that she makes frequently–as well as an argument in favor of the walmartization of america itself. Cheaper stuff that grandma and grandpa pay for by working as walmart greeters in a big box store outside of a destroyed downtown is always better than grandma and grandpa enjoying retirement security in a thriving downtown with less junk from China.

      Its all good–for me! is Megan’s slogan.

      aimai

    • Tom Says:

      Long since should have acknowledged your posts on this. I didn’t see them before I wrote the above…but you nailed this one long before I ever got going.

      As always, I merely hold your coat.


      • Thanks, Tom. Your work will reach places that mine won’t; it’s just too bad that nothing will reach the people who prize group dominance over facts and reason.

    • y81 Says:

      Isn’t Krugman as stupid and wrong as Levenson says McArdle is? Refrigeration and gas cooking existed in 1918, yet that moron Krugman claims that these items were the major advances between 1918 and 1953.

      • Tom Says:

        No. The argument was over whether or not the critical innovations in kitchen tech occurred before or after the fifties. Krugman, Nobel laureate and no moron, and Tyler Cowen (no political ally of Krugman’s) are right, and McArdle is unequivocally and embarassingly wrong.

        And it is no good defense of a position to say that someone else is just as bad. Just sayin.

  5. Ian Preston Says:

    From the McArdle article:

    The book also assumes that its readers will cream butter and sugar by hand for cakes, percolate or boil their coffee, beat egg whites with a rotary beater, and so forth. Anyone who has attempted to beat egg whites by hand can attest that the transition to electrically-assisted baking is not a small improvement. (Men, who tend not to bake as much as women, may be prone to overlook this.)

    As you point out, standing mixers have been commercially available for the home since 1919. The idea of adding electric power to drive the mechanism of the rotary beater or hand-held whisk (patented 1870) doesn’t seem that revolutionary though and the idea for an electrically powered mixer (patented 1885) seems to have been even earlier than you mention, albeit that commercial production might have awaited the development of electricity distribution networks and fractional horsepower motors.

    As a man who actually enjoys baking, can I point out though that the effort required to cream butter and sugar is really quite small and I still prefer to use the fork, apparently a technology known to the ancient Greeks and also mentioned in the Book of Samuel?

    • aimai Says:

      Hi Ian. Yes, and I prefer to use a wooden spoon for creaming since the friction of the wood works well with the butter and sugar.

      In deference to all the cooks on this thread I will also pass along a pro-tip that I learned last night from the Food Editor of Yankee Magazine. She now uses her microplane (and carpenters planes go way back) to quickly grate garlic into sauces in preference to using a garlic press.

      aimai

    • aimai Says:

      I think what I really meant to say is that, since this is McCardle of the 25 dollars or 250, what’s the diff and, in the immortal words of Balloon Juice “gastritis broke my calculator” perhaps she is confused and thinks that 1953 was 1593, or 1395, or 1839 or, at any rate, some meaningless distinction like that.

      aimai

  6. Tyler Healey Says:

    I do not understand how anyone could be a libertarian after the Financial Crisis of 2008.

    • Tom Says:

      ’tis a mystery. Conservatism has failed in every respect except for power. Which is a big exception, to be sure.

      (By “conservatism” I mean modern American self-styled conservative thinking/adherents.)

  7. Gene McManus Says:

    I’m in the process of collecting data and profiles of people relative to a book I’m thinking about. Its title will be : the Age of Incompetents. Megan will make a welcome chapter.

  8. lm Says:

    Adding Wheaties to stretch ground beef? In a cookbook by the company that makes and markets Wheaties?
    Yes, Megan, you’re on to something…think reeeeeeal hard, now….

  9. RobNYNY1957 Says:

    My parents got married in 1953, so my mother’s kitchen is a perfect example of what a kitchen of that era looked like, as if preserved in amber. My parents were working class or slightly lower (my mother was a secretary with a high school education, my father was a farmer with an eighth grade education). They received as wedding presents many of the same things that are still in use in my mother’s kitchen: An automatic percolator, an automatic toaster, an automatic waffle iron, various cast iron and cast aluminum pots and pans, in addition to a full set of Revereware (exactly like those that are still available in stores), a Waring blender (the food processor of its day), a Sunbeam stand mixer, a pressure cooker (the slow cooker of its day), etc. I would say that the drip coffee maker is a marginal improvement on the percolator, and the food processor is a marginal improvement on the blender and mixer, but neither was enough of an improvement for my mother to buy either one even after seeing them in use in my home. The only really different things in her kitchen now are a microwave oven and an electric knife (my mother lost the use of one hand, and it simplifies a lot of tasks).

    • WD Says:

      My parents married in 1953 as well and I think we grew up in the exact same kitchen. What’s really amazing is that all of those old appliances still work. I know my mom’s 1953 toaster still works, as does the Sunbeam Mixmaster.

      Cookbooks from that era did have some weird recipes aimed at selling more of a particular company’s packaged, processed food. My mom always made awful Jell-O dishes that were supposed to turn the sweet dessert into a savory dish by adding various combinations of vegetables and mayonnaise dressings. The cookbook was published by the manufacturers of Jell-O, of course.

      • en lord Says:

        The Frigidaire that my grandfather bought in 1951 in anticipation of the electric cooperative coming down the road the next year is still running; I am uncertain about the 1951 GMC 2.5 ton farm truck but it does show the quality of items American made once stood for

    • cowichan Says:

      My parents were married in ’40 just before dad was shipped overseas. By 1953 we had been living in the same house for 7 years. My mothers kitchen had 3 electrical appliances. The stove, the fridge and the toaster. I may be wrong about the fridge as I know we started out with an ice box in ’46. Had my mother had an automatic toaster she’d have thought she was in heaven. Two sets of pots and pans is just too over the top.

  10. aimai Says:

    Tom,
    Do you think that the Atlantic grasps that McCardle isn’t some kind of flexible, erudite, old fashioned public intellectual but actually just a hideously badly informed, jumped up undergraduate with pretensions to sophistication? I’ve been wondering that for quite a while. McCardle’s job, as far as I can see it from reading her blog, is to write casual, flippant, insider-y pieces about economics. It often boils down to “what I bought today” but she also writes longer “think” pieces and squibs about public policy. She’s really bad at both those kinds of writing. I don’t say that because I disagree with her politically, although I do, but because she’s just really bad at research, she doesn’t have very much breadth or depth to her reading, and she is chronically bad at both math and logic. I was an undergraduate at a good school many, many, years ago, and taught briefly at Yale and at Amherst. You were expected, as an undergraduate, to write several long research papers every semester–if not one in each class–and develop a facility for quick reading, assimilation of information, and writing. Megan doesn’t exhibit even the most rudimentary of the skills we were expected to have mastered by the end of that undergraduate phase. She writes like an overwhelmed freshman who apes the tone of an older student or a professor without bothering to even crack the books.

    I don’t expect much from the Atlantic anymore, I’m sorry to say. And its in large part because they seem content to have something as pathetic as McCardle be their public face.

    aimai

  11. Tina Says:

    I love the book for its entertainment value rather than the trivia you guys are having trouble with. Kudos for the guy who dug history out of American kitchen.

  12. DCA Says:

    Agreed on all counts–how she managed to think stand mixers were a novelty of the 70’s escapes me. I’d say the one real change was the microwave (world’s greatest reheater of leftovers)–but of course the technology for that was developed by the government, so it doesn’t fit her preferred model for where innovations come from.


  13. [...] post claiming Krugman and Cowen are out of their minds.  The last post linked by Shea, written by Thomas Levenson, of Inverse Square, rips Megan a new one.  I don’t have the animosity toward McArdle that Levenson possesses, [...]


  14. [...] see that Thomas Levenson is on the warpath against my post on what constitutes a 1953 kitchen.  How can I say that 1953 [...]

  15. John Thacker Says:

    For someone who claims to be concerned about the poor, you spend a lot of time basing your rebuttal on items that were invented prior to the 1950s and 1960s, but had not nearly spread to the average household the way that they would in the 1960s.

    Having read your post her and her rebuttal, I’d say that she easily has the better of you.

    • mew Says:

      That’s not much of a rebuttal, considering that McArdle’s original argument was that Krugman was wrong to say that there hadn’t been any major innovations in kitchen technology in the last sixty years. She then listed items that have been around for a hundred years or so. Arguing about how many people could afford this gadget or that pan in 1953 completely misses the point of Krugman’s original statement. If the blender was invented in 1922 and then hit the market in 1937, the that’s a technological advance that occured more than 60 years ago. The fact that McArdle’s mom didn’t own one in the 50s is not a rebuttal.

  16. MikeR Says:

    Sheesh. Reading the sneering, arrogant post, and the sneering, arrogant comments here is something I won’t soon repeat. Is this what you guys are like in real life? Take a look at McArdle’s very thorough rebuttal, though, if you care about accuracy.

  17. Epstein's Mother Says:

    You don’t think the relatively paucity of electrical outlets in an un-renovated kitchen from that era undermines your counter-points to her post? I live in such a house, and it’s clear that the typical housewife in the 1950s didn’t have more than 2 or 3 major electrical appliances, notwithstanding what might have been invented previously.

    • Tom Says:

      I live in such a house now. And prior to the renovation completed a year or so ago, the issue was not the paucity of outlets, but the fusing. That said, there were plenty of appliances in use for the last many decades.

      IOW: anecdotes are not data.

      • Epstein's Mother Says:

        The nice thing about anecdotes is that when one makes you think something doesn’t smell right, it often leads you to actually do the research. I’m old enough to remember the changes to these kitchens, and while there were lots of appliances, there were not nearly as many as today. And most people didn’t own a tremendous variety.

        I suspect the reason you noticed the problem of fusing and not the paucity of outlets is because of the use of modern surge bars.

    • Tom Says:

      I can’t reply at the point below, but this is in reference to your 10:01 p.m. comment:

      I too am old enough to remember kitchens of the fifties, (just barely). The actual numbers on the use of appliances vary widely: freezers reach reasonably penetration fairly early; refrigerators very much so; clothes washer similarly; radio exceptionally quickly; blenders more slowly.

      IOW: McArdle’s basic claim still fails. The availability of appliances was not the constraining issue here. As you look at the economic data you find consumers making specific choices between priorities, but the innovation had all taken place to the point where full commercialization of all this stuff was well under way.

  18. Ben Says:

    You’re smart, McCardle’s smart. The two of you could probably have a very civil, productive online conversation about this subject that would be enlightening to all.

    Instead, you would rather be an ass. Mission accomplished.

    • Tom Levenson Says:

      Ben:

      This is weak trolling. You can do better.

      Seriously, though, I remain naively astonished that McArdle’s defenders are such (albeit selective) defenders of internet purity. Heck — I didn’t even use any bad words. What’s bugging you, dude?


      • Authoritarians sure do hate to have their leaders questioned; the leaders must be shown respect and any evidence of fallibility must be overlooked. Everyone must play along so the illusion can be preserved. Criticism is an attack and critics are enemies.

      • Ben Says:

        It’s not trolling — just making an observation. I have no particular allegiance to McCardle, but I found your response to her to be intellectually dishonest. It seems pretty clear that you really have little interest in the actual topic being discussed, but a great deal of interest in throwing ideological elbows, even when they are practically non sequiturs. Thus every hint of factual disagreement you have with McCardle proves she’s dumb, and any statement she makes about anything proves she hates poor people. It’s circular reasoning on crack.

        You try to turn around any such criticisms by framing it as a matter of sensitivity or being offended, but that’s just silly. Your lack of intellectual honesty doesn’t offend me, but I do find it pathetic for someone of your obvious IQ.

        I have seen McCardle and other bloggers of various ideological persuasions carry on informative debates that were usually enlightening. Unfortunately, you have chosen the route of bitchy narcissism, playing at every turn to your sneering little following. Just seems a waste, that’s all.

    • aimai Says:

      Attack of the winged monkeys. What’s the evidence that McCardle is “smart” in any real sense? Has she written any peer reviewed journal articles in her field-I believe she has an MBA? Has she written any long form, well respected, non fiction or fiction? Does she have a Ph.D. in her field? Is she a noted artist? Does she teach at a major university?

      McCardle is a blogger with an exciteable fan base of readers who, generally speaking, gather at her blog as at a water cooler and enjoy kicking liberals, democrats, imaginary poor people, and “losers.” She got her start pseudonymously imitating a fictional character notable for his amorality, selfishness and greed. She pretends to greater experience in the work world than she actually has. And when she is called on her obvious intellectual deficiencies she famously attacks her attackers by asserting that she

      “comes from a family of scary academics” and so all criticism of her methods or logic are–what? Irellevant?

      When she makes massive mathematical mistakes she claims her calculator was broken. When she is forced to defend her statements and views at the start of the Iraq war she explains that she had “gastritis” and can’t be held accountable.

      Megan, my dear, is lot of things but “smart” isn’t one of them. She does have the talent of taking a rather pathetic group of readers and making them feel good about themselves. And that’s something, I suppose.

      aimai

    • Tom Levenson Says:

      OK, I’ll bite. (Not a good use of pixels, I agree, but still.)

      What, specifically, did you find dishonest. McArdle made several claims. They are false. I said they were false.

      She’s responded. Her response is full of misdirection (some of the “depends on what you mean by “is” variety, some of the “I wasn’t actually talking about what I said I was talking about variety”), and attempts to argue that while she was mistaken, the mistakes don’t count. I’ll put together my riposte over the next couple of days as my regular job permits, but I’m genuinely curious: beyond the fact of my disdain for McArdle and her many failures as a journalist and a thinker, I made specific statements about what she got wrong and why. What do you consider — specificall — intellectually dishonest, and why?

      I say this noting that McArdle partisans, when they show up here, tend to be long on invective and short on anything substantive. Perhaps you will break that mold.

      Have at it.

  19. Bob Says:

    Megan’s just being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian again. That’s her raison d’être.
    Failing that, she makes up numbers like her infamous “80% of pharmaceutical research” and then says it doesn’t matter because it was a hypothetical.

    If you really wanted, you could spot all the logical fallacies involved in this particular one pretty quickly…moving the goalposts, etc. etc.

    Her collection of followers has been the same since 2003, with an occasional newer person that shows up, but most dissenters just gave up posting there lest they get sucked into the abyss of irrelevant arguments.

  20. Marc Says:

    My big take home from all this is that you can’t be all iconoclastic and write a coherent sentence at the same time. Next time you write something slagging someone, get an editor. Or at least a proofreader. Your oh so superior attitude will come across more effectively if it’s not communicated through poor grammar and mangled syntax.

    For someone who is so cocksure, you can’t write worth a crap.

  21. Bob Says:

    “McMegan [Moderator] 6 minutes ago in reply to caseywills

    The difference is that I wasn’t saying “Paul Krugman is a factually challenged asshole” based on my lack of reading comprehension. I was trying to enlarge the conversation, not criticize Krugman, or Cowen (both of whom I respect).”

    Communicating poorly and then having to “clarify” while adding so much irrelevant data (containerization) is a hallmark of Megan’s writing.
    She doesn’t seem to understand that her poor communication skills is the issue here since enlarging the conversation is not my takeaway from her initial post.


  22. [...] the target of KitchenGate:  “Oh well.  I could and probably should have got to this point in the story much sooner.  [...]


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