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April 15, 2008

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If it's as simple as Swami Weisberg claims, why don't we throw him some money for one of those experiments you were just talking about?
Once we know who the Democratic nominee is, give him $100,000 (I'm being generous here) and a few months off with the express goal of researching the family history of McCain and Obama/Clinton and writing prospective biographies of how their presidencies will go. Then in 4 or 8 years, when that presidency is over, we can open that biography and compare it to reality. If Weisberg was close to right, let's hail him as a genius. If not, he can publicly admit that he doesn't actually know what he's talking about.

Great post Brendan. The Whiggism fallacy should be better understood. Very few people understand it, so lots of people slip into using it.

Gordon Woods has a wonderful discussion of it in his Revolutionary Characters book. See his chapter on Burr.

Why it isn't talked about more ought to be the subject of a future post. It ought to be taught in Journalism 101. Turns out it's not taught at all and little understood.

What Brendan describes is the daily fare on the financial pages. E.g., today Reuters wrote, "Wall St jumps as corporate profits reassure." If the financial reporter could actually predict the movement of the stock market in advance, s/he would be an investment wizard and very rich. However, after the fact, there's always a way to attribute the movement of the market to some cause.

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