Dr. Paul Krugman, the hyper-productive New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate, has produced a flood of fiscal factoids. He argues that the only way to put the major economies around the world back on track is to “stimulate” them via deficit-financed government spending.
Most recently, Dr. Krugman has weighed in repeatedly on Greece’s travails with his fiscalist snake oil. His column of January 26th, “Ending Greece’s Nightmare,” makes it clear that he thinks he can deliver an elixir.
Not so fast Doctor. A mountain of evidence shows that the elixir is a fiscal factoid. Never mind.
Statements made by the likes of Nobel laureates carry weight — even if those statements amount to nothing more than factoids. Recall that, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, a factoid is “an item of unreliable information that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.” The famous “Dr. Fox Lecture,” which was presented at the University of Southern California’s Medical School, illustrates just how so-called “experts” can effectively work and influence a crowd. The lecture was presented by Dr. Myron Fox —an advertised heavyweight — to an academic audience in 1970. The response to Dr. Fox’s lecture was unanimously favorable.
Little did the audience know that “Dr. Fox” was an actor who had been cloaked with an impressive fake curriculum vitae and trained to deliver a nonsensical lecture filled with contradictory statements, double-talk and non-sequiturs. Like it or not, when the big guns sound off, they are heard. Beware.