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Niall Ferguson is Full of Shit With No Friggin Facts to Back Up His Bs

Niall Ferguson is Full of Shit With No Friggin Facts to Back Up His Bs

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Published by msf31538

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Published by: msf31538 on Sep 16, 2012
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11/15/2012

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NIALL FERGUSON IS FULL OF SHIT WITH NO FRIGGIN FACTS TO BACK UP HISBS. I READ HIS ASCENT OF MONEY. IT WAS A GOOD PIECE. WHY DID NIALL GOROGUE. SELF AGGRANDIZEMENTThe Age of Niallism: Ferguson and the Post-Fact WorldinShare6 AUG 24 2012, 10:32 AM ET 311Bluster cannot make untruths true.(Reuters)People who believe facts are nothing think you'll fall for anything. Call it Niallism.This is my last word (well, last words) on Niall Ferguson, whose Newsweek cover storyarguing that Obama doesn't deserve a second-term has drawn deserved criticism for itsmendacity from Paul Krugman, Andrew Sullivan, Ezra Klein, Noah Smith, mycolleagues James Fallows and Ta-Nehisi Coates and myself. The problem isn'tFerguson's conclusion, but how Ferguson reaches his conclusion. He either presentsinaccurate facts or presents facts inaccurately. The result is a tendentious mess that just maintains a patina of factuality -- all, of course, so Ferguson can create plausibledeniability about his own dishonesty.Exhibit A is Ferguson's big lie that Obamacare would increase the deficit. This is nottrue. Just look at the CBO report Ferguson himself cites. Paul Krugman immediatelypointed this out, and asked for a correction. How did Ferguson respond? He claims hewas only talking about the bill's costs and not its revenues -- a curious and unconvincingdefense to say the least. But then Ferguson reveals his big tell. He selectively quotesthe CBO to falsely make it sound like they don't think Medicare savings will in fact berealized. Here's the section Ferguson quotes, with the part he ellipses out in bold. (Note:Pseudonymous Buzzfeed contributor @nycsouthpaw was the first to notice this quote-doctoring. The italics below are Ferguson's).
 
In fact, CBO's cost estimate for the legislation noted that it will put into effect a number of policies that might be difficult to sustain over a long period of time. The combinationof those policies, prior law regarding payment rates for physicians' services in Medicare,and other information has led CBO to project that the growth rate of Medicare spending(per beneficiary, adjusted for overall inflation) will drop from about 4 percent per year,which it has averaged for the past two decades, to about 2 percent per year on averagefor the next two decades. It is unclear whether such a reduction can be achievedthrough greater efficiencies in the delivery of health care or will instead reduce accessto care or the quality of care (relative to the situation under prior law).Ferguson completely changes the CBO's meaning. Why not just say he finds the CBO'sanalysis unconvincing, like Andrew Sullivan suggested, and leave it at that? Well,Ferguson tries that later -- but not before appealing to the authority of the CBO whenthe CBO is not on his side. The damage is done.I don't want to go too far down this Ferguson rabbit hole -- we get it, he lied -- but I dowant to answer his response to my fact-check. Ferguson's reading of my criticism wasas lacking as his fidelity to facts. I tried to make clear that I was cataloging twocategories of errors in his piece. There were untruths misleadingly framed as truths andtruths misleadingly framed so as to be untruths. Or, as I put it, "a fantasy world of incorrect and tendentious facts."Let's take a quick detour into the meta. Ferguson objects that I don't identify "a singleerror" and that I'm just offering my own opinions. The former is not true -- his descriptionof Obamacare and its budgetary impact are demonstrably false -- but the latter is alegitimate point of debate. Ferguson prefers a very narrow definition of fact-checking; Ido not think that is sufficient. Facts twisted out of context can be just as deceptive asoutright falsehoods -- sometimes even more so, because you can cloak them in claimsof truthfulness.***
 
That said, I want to give Ferguson's rebuttal far more attention than it deserves. This isa tedious exercise, so feel free to skip to the next section. Below are a summary of mycritiques in italics, his responses in bold, and then my reply to those. Whew! Let's go.1. I criticized Ferguson for saying that stocks are up since January 2009, but privatesector employment is down since January 2008. I pointed out that private sector payrolls are up 427,000 since Obama took office in January 2009.NF: Both these statements are true. I picked the high point of January 2008 because itseems to me reasonable to ask how much of the ground lost in the crisis have weactually made up under Obama. The answer is not much. You may not like that, but it'sa fact.Ferguson's fact is deliberately misleading. A better way to make the argument he sayshe wants to make would be something like, "Private sector payrolls have added 427,000 jobs since Obama took office, but we are nowhere near out of our deep hole -- despitethis growth, private sector payrolls are still 4.18 million jobs below their January 2008peak."2. I couldn't find Ferguson's source or replicate his result for real median householdincomes.NF: Well, either Newsweek starts publishing footnotes or Matthew O'Brien reads a littlemore widely than just official statistics, which generally lag months behind. The monthlydata for Median Household Income Index (HII) is produced by Sentier  A footnote isn't necessary. A link would suffice. The Sentier numbers are a decent proxyfor the official Census numbers, but there are some years where they move in oppositedirections. I annualized and normalized the Sentier and Census figures and found anaverage 2.5 percent difference between their levels from 2001-2010. (I indexed both to2000, since that's how the Sentier data are presented, and stopped in 2010 becausethat's the last year for which the Census has numbers). In other words, the Sentier figures are far from authoritative, and could use some context.

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