Wednesday, March 6, 2013

SHOTS FIRED: Niall Ferguson on Paul Krugman

Niall Ferguson, who is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard Universit, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a Senior Research Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford, speculates on Paul Krugman's childhood:
In my view Paul Krugman has done fundamental damage to the quality of public discourse on economics. He can be forgiven for being wrong, as he frequently is--though he never admits it. He can be forgiven for relentlessly and monotonously politicizing every issue. What is unforgivable is the total absence of civility that characterizes his writing. His inability to debate a question without insulting his opponent suggests some kind of deep insecurity perhaps the result of a childhood trauma. It is a pity that a once talented scholar should demean himself in this way.
Although Krugman is likely to label this an ad hominem, I'm not so sure it is so. Ferguson may be simply speculating on the influences on Krugman's thinking and his method of debate. This could simply be labeled analysis based on the thinking developed by the Austrian, Sigmund Freud.

Indeed, years ago, I speculated on the early influences on Krugman. As a result of subtle provocation from Bob Murphy, in 2008, I considered the childhood influences on Krugman and his overall psychological makeup and reached conclusions not much different than Ferguson:
To your question re childhood influences, as you know, I have an extra strong ability to read people and the past events that have influenced their lives--to the point where I can, for example, sometimes target within a year or two when someone has lost a parent--just by looking at their face. Spooky stuff.  
Krugman is a bright guy, but not thorough. I consider the disease premature analytical ejaculation. Further, someone was playing some kind of mental head games with him in his youth--my guess would be a female, perhaps his mother or an older sister (if he has one), something like that.
I hasten to add, I believe it is possible to grow and develop away from childhood influences but that Krugman simply hasn't.

(ht: James E. Miller)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. This post is delightful on many levels............

  2. I wrote something similar today on my own KIW blog:

    I also have a very hard time with Krugman's nasty partisanship, as I truly believe that an academic economist should make an attempt to stay above party politics.

  3. " I can, for example, sometimes target within a year or two when someone has lost a parent--just by looking at their face."

    Well, I can do that too. Anyone can. The key qualifier is "sometimes".

    What horseshit. You and others should stay away from psychoanalyzing Krugman and concentrate, as Ferguson, with one lapse, did, on Krugman's behavior and its results.