Saturday, March 14, 2009

Aggregating nonsense, and little else

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:










Aggregating nonsense, and little else

Jim Fedako


Two articles from a recent edition of The Columbus Dispatch make use of meaningless aggregations. First off is the collective political force. A columnist writes, "But in November, voters elected a Democratic House and a Republican Senate to safeguard Ohio's cashbox." As if voters across the state conspired to split the Ohio legislature. Nonsense. Yet, by claiming as much, writers can ascribe all kinds of attributes and voices to the collective voter, allowing for lengthy columns and little else.

Then there is the backward definition of the rational man -- the rational man defined as anyone who seeks the same ends sought by the researcher. Of course, this implies that actions are irrational which are not aligned to the ends sought by the researcher -- the self-assumed rational man. However, Mises showed long ago that all actions are rational from the actor's point of view. And who really cares about the observer? A host of researchers, politicians, nanny do-gooders, and assorted madmen, of course.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What--Americans don't really consciously cast their votes to divide congress, and from the White House? That's all I heard from the expert, elite media through eight years of the Bush administration. Are you trying to say that the expert pundits were just planting the seeds of shame and expectation in the heads of us unsophisticated hayseeds who vote?

Come to think of it...I stopped hearing calls for divided government from the talking heads after Democrats took control of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, too. Fancy that...