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Paul Krugman and the Ivy Fallacy



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Paul Krugman has a notably sloppy column today, about which one could write words of criticism outnumbering the words in the article. (And, as it turns out, I have.) His argument is that Mitt Romney, and Republicans at large, do not really care about the equality of opportunity they are fond of celebrating. Because, as you know, conservatives hate the poor, their hatred for poor men being surpassed only by their hatred for poor women and poor children, which itself is surpassed only by their hatred of clean air and water. (If there were poor homosexuals, Republicans would hate them the most, but of course no Republican ever has encountered a poor homosexual.) Everybody knows this, if by “everybody” one means Paul Krugman and the voices in his head.

What is particularly irritating is that Professor Krugman’s opening gambit includes the Ivy Fallacy, the act of implicitly generalizing from the circumstances of elite institutions and the people associated with them to the general public. Professor Krugman’s opening data point:

At the most selective, “Tier 1” schools, 74 percent of the entering class comes from the quarter of households that have the highest “socioeconomic status”; only 3 percent comes from the bottom quarter.

Muppet News Flash: Nobel laureate economist sifts the data, engages in esoteric statistical regressions, and concludes that Princeton is expensive.  

More at Exchequer.



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