Tag Archives: armchair experts

Sick of armchair economists following me

Yesterday I experienced the tipping point in what has been a long process. I said fuggit to membership and my volunteer moderating duties on a site which was merely the latest to insult my knowledge, education and, via mocking people like me (who, as I will show, in fact had the CORRECT view) displayed just the latest example of what I will call “armchair economist syndrome” or AES.

For quite some time now I have been on the retreat from certain online forums and friendships due to AES. To be more specific, I’ve stopped pursuing friends and sites that persist in denying things that are even more “true” than “the Earth is not flat”. The “things” they persist in denying are economic and socio-political statements that are

  • NOT based in any “theory” (and remember, theories CAN be disproved with the right empirical data and so MIGHT INDEED be WRONG)
  • but which are based on what mathematicians call the “identity relationship”.

An identity relationship is not something that can be “wrong” or “denied” – it is “true by definition”. Now, whilst I remember an episode of QI discussing the guy who used a novel way to “prove” 1+1=2, epistemologically, addition etc is actually true by definition, for a given base. So in our usual base 10, 1+1 is identically equal to 2. If you can prove otherwise you are either in need of mental care or are a liar trying to troll someone.

One of my flaws is a dislike of theories that dominate much of modern discourse: gimme an identity relationship instead anyday – at least we know it is MUCH stronger! Identity relationships underlie accountancy (the balance sheet MUST balance) and some parts of economics (national income accounting). But this means good luck trying to prove me wrong! Basically this “flaw” of mine enables me to instantly detect bullshitters and anybody on the narcissist pathway – if they really wanna argue they’re right and I’m wrong then they’re at least one of those two!

Returning to the specific straw that broke the camel’s back yesterday, I’d kept away from certain topics in favour of “fun” ones like genre/science-fiction where I could escape these bruising encounters that have gone on for about 5 years now. Unfortunately a sci-fi show I am not involved with (but which has overlap with my former co-mods and site owner) precipitated a big argument over which of The Joker and Avengers Endgame made the largest profit. One of my co-moderators, and then the site owner IN A BROADCAST made extremely disparaging remarks about anyone (like me) who could possibly say “Endgame” (using the “absolute dollar amount” argument) rather than Joker (using profit as percentage of costs). Unfortunately they’re wrong. Dead wrong.

The Theory of the Firm is usually the first section of Microeconomics 101. Within the first few pages you learn that PROFIT = TOTAL REVENUE (EARNINGS) MINUS TOTAL COSTS. (Actually you should technically also subtract a second term but this is hard to measure and usually ignored.) Thus Endgame, assuming costs of around $700m made a cool $2Bn profit whilst Joker made (so far) around $900m profit. No contest. By definition in Economics and Accountancy Endgame was more profitable.

Yet ad hominem attacks abounded against anyone (like me) who argued this basic DEFINITION USED IN ECONOMICS AND ACCOUNTANCY. I received just about the best higher education in economics you can get (Cambridge University and I have a PhD). You think lecture 1 of their course has made a mistake?

You are either being exceptionally nasty or are doing, what is charitably called “MAKING STUFF UP”

It is perfectly fine (and indeed necessary for accountants, financiers etc who wanna know such things) to quote the desired percentage. But don’t call that “profit”, without a bunch of qualifiers. It is named various things across economics and accountancy but perhaps the most familiar term if you want to gaze across both disciplines is “Return On Investment – ROI” for the purposes of this area. But “profit per unit cost/input” or somesuch would at least make it clear. Don’t think you can just change definitions to suit yourself. At best you look a moron, at worst, if you’re in business, you’ll run into a huge misinterpretation with your accountants/financiers at some point and might find yourself in trouble with tax authorities.

This sounds trivial. It’s not. When you know you have a Cambridge Economist at your beck and call wouldn’t it have been trivial to double check this before broadcasting something that was both wrong and said in an insulting way? But it was just the latest in AES that I’ve been running into for years. I was insulted and belittled. Yet I’m the one over-reacting? When the site owner has previously berated intersectionalists for calling their professors “wrong”, yet then does exactly that to me I call that rank hypocrisy and it hurts. I gave lots of my spare time to help out and I get attacked and straw-manned – oh did I mention that? Apparently I also believe there was a year zero AD so that I could make 2000 the millennium. That’s just bloody pathetic and the argument of an 8 year old.

Show disrespect for your moderators? Don’t be surprised if we leave. Plus, when you’re involved in court cases alleging financial impropriety then congratulations! You just made half the internet think you’re financially illiterate – how do you think that’s gonna help your case?