Why Are You Surprised, Josh?


TPM Reader ML asks why I’m surprised …

You find this so hard to believe? This seems totally unsurprising to me. The whole basis of the modern conservative movement is an indifference or hostility to facts.

In its best light, this can be expressed as a bias towards focusing on philosophical underpinnings (in an intellectually honest way, not super common among conservatives I’ve known). The empirical economics or program evaluation or demographic data are just not as important as explicating and then defending the most fundamental principles. If policies that most ensure continuing respect for those principles result in policy that produces measures that look “worse”, too bad. That’s not the most important goal.

Unfortunately, a vanishingly small percentage of the modern conservative movement can be described that way. Even the famous Harvard professors that sign on are the kind of people who publish papers on economic theory that I think, as a statistician (yes, PhD, top 10 department), economists should be revolting in embarrassment over and are driven by mostly provably false ideological mathematic or logical assumptions, not adherence to any defensible analytic or scientific principles, and publish campaign white papers that are not just based on fanciful assumptions but are bald faced lies drawn out over scores of pages. The intellectual guiding stars of your movement (well the plutocrat wing at least, of course including Romney) base their careers on producing mathematically impressive (for economists) work where the goal is to build frilly edifices for predetermined ideological convictions. Relation to reality is not a concern. What do you expect of the rest?


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.