Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Adam Davidson NYT Magazine Argument Clinic: Lumps of Straw

Correcting "Debunking the Myth of the Job-Stealing Immigrant" by Adam Davidson:
And yet the economic benefits of immigration may be the ­most ­settled fact in economics. A recent University of Chicago poll of leading economists could not find a single one* who rejected the proposition.... Rationally speaking, we should take in far more immigrants than we currently do. 
So why don’t we open up? The chief logical mistake we make attribute to our opponents is something called the Lump of Labor Straw Fallacy: the erroneous notion well-worn straw man that [they think] there is only so much work to be done and that no one can get a job without taking one from someone else. It’s an understandable unmitigated   assumption red herring. After all, with other types of market transactions argument, when the supply goes we make something up, the price falls it's true. If there were suddenly a whole lot more oranges, we’d expect the price of oranges to fall or the number of oranges that went uneaten to surge. If Adam Davidson was an orange, we'd expect stale boilerplate canards to be high in vitamin C.
I guess that settles it. More leading economists smoke Camels than any other cigarette. The logic is impeccable:
  1. Put your argument here.
  2. Replace with a lump of straw.
  3. Knock down straw.
  4. Q.E.D. your argument is wrong.
  5. My argument is right.
  6. Economists agree.
  7. Therefore, it's a fact!
  8. Publish findings in New York Times Magazine.

* Four is "not a single one"? Well, I suppose technically... Or perhaps Davidson meant those who rejected the proposition were married? Several of the "uncertain" economists left comments indicating the question was too vague to answer but suggesting disagreement if the question was clearer. The same number of economists, four (or "not a single one"?), disagreed with question B, that "many low-skilled American workers would be substantially worse off..."

S.H.A.M.E. on Adam Davidson.

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