Compare and contrast: the other side is stupid

The Volokh Conspiracy has a pair of posts that provide good examples and illustrations of methods of argument and debate. The first is of the “the other side is stupid” type but it cites ignorance rather than stupidity and defines several specific items. The second is a “no I’m not” rebuttal that uses ‘everybody does it’ logic creating obfuscation and straw men in the process, not to mention the ad hominmen that shows especially in the comments.

Todd Zywicki starts off with a report on a survey that finds that The Further Left You Are the Less You Know About Economics:. The survey questions were basic economic implications of supply restriction processes.

Note that the questions here are not whether the benefits of these policies might outweigh the costs, but the basic economic effects of these policies.

Those identifying as “libertarian” and “very conservative” were the most knowledgeable about basic economics. Those identifying as “Progressive” and “Liberal” were the worst.

It would be hard to find a set of propositions that would meet with such a degree of consensus among economists to rival these propositions–which boils down to supply restrictions raise prices and price controls create shortages. These are issues on which economic theory is exceedingly clear, well-confirmed over decades of empirical support, and with a degree of unarguable consensus among trained scholars in the field.

Ilya Somin picks up the point with claims about Ideology and Economic Ignorance.

These findings are very valuable. But they are subject to several caveats.

I expect that many more conservatives than liberals deny that the War on Drugs creates black markets and violence, believe that immigration is a zero-sum competition for jobs between immigrants and natives, and deny that laws banning prostitution and gambling have various negative economic side-effects
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Second, the authors don’t really address the issue of whether being on the left causes people to be more ignorant about the economics of the issues addressed by the Zogby poll or vice versa.

The issue raised by Zywicki has nothing to do with one’s perceptions of one ideologic group or another and did not delve into cause but only correlation. The fact that the response does not take up on an observation but rather creates an extrapolation and then engages in facilitating a constructed equality of both ideologic follower groups is what should be noted here. The implication of these tactics is that Somin’s response is a rationalization or a defensive denial. Compare and contrast. Carefully. That means examining what is provided and not constructing something that was not in order to make one’s point.

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