Home / General / Wilkinson v. Landsburg

Wilkinson v. Landsburg


I’ll have to call this for the former about 30 seconds into the first round.

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  • I thought you were exaggerating, but … yeah. Wilkinson rocks him coming off the bell and then spends the rest of the round pummeling him. That’s a pretty epic beating.

  • rea

    Lansburg doesn’t seem to grasp that opposition to gay marriage is not based on careful statistical analysis of parental success rates.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Yeah, “one side should unilaterally disarm their use of garden-variety political rhetoric (even when everything they say is perfectly true)” is just not going to be a convincing argument.

      • rea

        And an argument on the order of “Xes can’t Y” is refuted by an anecdote of a single instance in which an X successfully Ys. Landburg accordingly recasts the anti-X argument as something like, “on the average, Xes don’t Y as well as Zs” in order to be able to object to anecdotal evidence. In the real world, nobody makes Landburg’s weak version of the anti-x argument.

        • Mr. Chris

          And what neither Landsburg nor his commenters seem to realize, as they praise themselves for their rationality, is that the weak version of the anti-marriage argument that Landsburg sets forth can’t support the weight of the conclusion that gay marriage must be banned. In order to even begin justifying massive discrimination, opponents of gay marriage need to show that massive harm would result from allowing it; curiously, they’ve been unable to do so. By writing as though the opponents of gay marriage have made a case which requires or even permits reasoned refutation, Landsburg seems to be assuming facts which are not in evidence.

          I have to confess, I find that the hard-line opponents of gay marriage are more intellectually honest and capable of reasoning than Landsburg is, so far as this issue is concerned. Many of them genuinely seem to believe that gay marriage will lead to all manner of social ills, up to and including the downfall of human civilization; while their argument may lack any empirical support, and may be so broad that a single teenager’s testimony can refute it, at least their goals align with their beliefs. Landsburg, by contrast, seems to believe that the argument “gay people are, on average, less successful as parents, and consequently our society must prevent them from marrying,” is a valid line of argument which requires a carefully-reasoned and logical refutation.

          Upon re-reading Landsburg’s blog post I can’t help but notice that his discussion of Wahls’s speech focuses entirely on the issue of whether gay people are less successful as parents, and utters not one word about the context of that speech, or the efforts of the pro-discrimination lobby to deprive gay people of their civil rights. I also can’t help but notice that even after Landsburg strips away every last shred of context, his comments regarding the flaws which allegedly afflict not only Wahls’s argument, but Wahls himself, still come across as so petty and mean-minded as to be embarrassing for the author.

          • Hogan

            From the Fafblog interview with James Dobson:

            FB: Oh no! But I thought gay people were good and deserved marriage licenses!

            JD: That’s probably because of your treacherous liberal education. It’s brainwashed you into thinking that there is no right and wrong, that everyone deserves equal rights, and that the fossil record accurately represents the geological and biological history of the earth. If our society continues to slide down this slippery slope of moral relativism, it will mean the end of Western Civilization.

            FB: Oh no! Not Western Civilization! That’s where all my friends live!

            • Kurzleg


          • Gern Blanston

            Great post, in a thread full of them.

      • wsn

        Yeah, “one side should unilaterally disarm their use of garden-variety political rhetoric (even when everything they say is perfectly true)” is just not going to be a convincing argument.

        I dunno. That sounds a lot like “civility” arguments that we keep hearing. A lot of establishment D’s and media types seem to find “don’t say true things about R’s” compelling…

    • chris

      He’s wrong on the merits, anyway. The California Supreme Court comprehensively reviewed the evidence on gay parenting in _In re Marriage Cases_ before concluding that there was no rational basis for believing that gays were inferior parents.

      _Marriage Cases_ was effectively abrogated by referendum amendment, but not based on careful analysis of the parenting statistics. It remains solid reasoning, even though Californians have since chosen to have a Not Quite Equal Protection Clause in their state constitution.

  • c u n d gulag

    That idiot’s an economist?
    Well, that may help explain the mess we’re in.
    What did he do to earn his degree? Make change successfully at a Mickey D’s without using the register?

    And he’s a prof, so presumably he’s got a PhD.
    They must hand those thing out like soccer trophies to pre-teen’s now-a-days.

    • c u n d gulag

      Oh, and as proof of that, there’s DR.!!! Donald Douglass, America’s dumbest blogger. And that’s some pretty stiff competition!

  • Terry Vinson

    Would that it were so

  • Uncle Kvetch

    My guess is that, like a number of right-leaning economists, Mr Landsburg has a regrettable tendency toward tone-deaf, context-dropping, contrarian provocation based on an unexamined assumption that this is what it means to be bravely rational.

    That’s beautiful.

  • Brad P.

    Will Wilkinson is one of the stickiest tentacles of the Kochtopus.

    Maybe Landsburg didn’t make an elementary and embarrassing mistake and was simply tossing up a softball to a fellow libertarian.

    • Hogan

      And the softball is now firmly embedded in Landsburg’s face. Bad plan, there.

    • IM

      Wasn’t Wilkinson fired from Koch inc.?

      • Brad P.

        He and Brink Lindsey parted ways from the Cato Institute back in the fall, and there was a lot of speculation it was because they both had a liberaltarian project going where they were trying to bridge differences with the left.

        The problem with that is that Cato is still more hard-line liberal on the War on Drugs, Afghanistan, and immigration, and moreover Lindsey had seemed to give up on liberals.

        Wilkinson probably left Cato on less than great terms, but I find it very unlikely that he fell out of favor with the Koch Brothers.

  • jsmdlawyer

    Wow. That kinda reminded me of this.

    Just about as brutal.

  • Mrs Tilton

    Landsburg is tiresome and uninteresting. On those occasions when I come across his stuff, I am left with the impression that he aspires, for reasons unfathomable to any but himself, to develop Asperger’s syndrome.

  • ploeg

    Steven Landsburg, Steven Landsburg…. Oh, yeah, that guy.

    Be fair, it’s like Ken Clean-Air-System vs. Petula Wilcox.

  • bh

    Landsburg makes me embarrassed to be an economist.

  • Bill Murray

    I always get the Armchair Economist confused with Lt. Dietrich from Barney Miller. One is a caricature of an intellectual and the other played a caricature of an intellectual.

    • Kurzleg

      And one had some pretty sharp stand-up comedy. The other? Not so much.

  • bobbo

    Landsberg reminds me of Ann Althouse.

    • DrDick

      Now that was brutal. Accurate, but brutal.

      • Kurzleg

        Brutal, but fair!

  • JohnP

    Let’s not forget Landburg’s krazy kontrarian klassic The case for looting.

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