Wed Jan 30, 2013, 07:51 AM
xchrom (108,903 posts)
Incestuous Amplification, Economics Edition by Paul Krugman
Back during the early days of the Iraq debacle, I learned that the military has a term for how highly dubious ideas become not just accepted, but viewed as certainties. “Incestuous amplification” happen when a closed group of people repeat the same things to each other – and when accepting the group’s preconceptions itself becomes a necessary ticket to being in the in-group. A fundamentally flawed notion – say, that the Germans can’t possibly attack though the Ardennes – becomes part of what everyone knows, where “everyone” means by definition only people who accept the flawed notion.
We saw that in the run-up to Iraq, where perfectly obvious propositions – the case for invading is very weak, the occupation may well be a nightmare – weren’t so much rejected as ruled out of discussion altogether; if you even considered those possibilities, you weren’t a serious person, no matter what your credentials.
Which brings me to the fiscal debate, characterized by the particular form of incestuous amplification Greg Sargent calls the Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop. I’ve already blogged about my Morning Joe appearance and Scarborough’s reaction, which was to insist that almost no mainstream economists share my view that deficit fear is vastly overblown. As Joe Weisenthal points out, the reality is that among those who have expressed views very similar to mine are the chief economist of Goldman Sachs; the former Treasury secretary and head of the National Economic Council; the former deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve; and the economics editor of the Financial Times. The point isn’t that these people are necessarily right (although they are), it is that Scarborough’s attempt at argument through authority is easily refuted by even a casual stroll through recent economic punditry.
But these people aren’t part of the in-group, and if they do make it into the in-group’s conversation at all, it’s only by blurring their message sufficiently that the in-group doesn’t understand it.
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Incestuous Amplification, Economics Edition by Paul Krugman (Original post)
Response to xchrom (Original post)
Wed Jan 30, 2013, 09:52 AM
pampango (19,902 posts)
2. I hadn't heard the term before, but the concept is familiar.
My first thought was of FOX news. Obama is bad, Obamacare is socialism... "Everyone" in the FOX world is "a closed group of people (who) repeat the same things to each other – and when accepting the group’s preconceptions itself becomes a necessary ticket to being in the in-group."
It certainly applied in the runup to the Iraq War with only those believing in Iraq's WMD were part of the 'in-group' resulting in the feeling within that group that 'everyone' believed it. The 'Germans can't attack through the Ardennes' group of military strategists made sure that no one who disagreed with that premise was invited to the meetings so that the belief was deemed to be "common wisdom".
Now it's the "Beltway Deficit Feedback Loop" as described by Krugman. I believe that this "incestuous amplification" is largely a republican/tea party/FOX news phenomenon, but I suppose liberals could be guilty of it at times though I can't think of an example.
Thanks Mr. Krugman for adding a new term to my vocabulary.