Sunday, April 20, 2008

I take it back

This is the funniest post Megan has ever written. You see, the problem with Megan's critics is that they're all sexist, because they're all men. (Sorry, Mona, Kathy G., and Susan of Texas, you don't count.)

About once a month, some liberal blogger links to a piece I have written, declaring that I am an idiot who doesn't know what I'm talking about. The subject is almost always economics. Often the liberal blogger himself doesn't know anything about the topic, but having heard other people assure him that I am a complete idiot who doesn't know what she's talking about, he feels on relatively safe grounds. Frequently, he also links to a criticism of what I have written that does not, in fact, prove that I am a complete idiot who does not know what she is talking about.
Or you're incapable of admitting a mistake, Megan, and a sloppy writer and thinker who makes abundant mistakes. Instead of accepting your own fallibility, you attack the messenger. (And yes, we're not about factual counterarguments or reasoned debate here, but she's clearly not talking about FMM. More Glenn Greenwald or, say Crooked Timber, both of whom are waaaaaay out of her league.)
And now, quite possibly the stupidest passage Megan has written on my watch. And no, I'm not being hyperbolic.
The fun begins when the readers begin emailing and commenting to the effect that I am a complete idiot who does not know what she is talking about. For they all have two things in common:

1) They are men

2) They really, really have no idea what they are talking about. When I write back pointing out the elementary errors they have made, providing an elementary explanation, and a question as to, say, which model of minimum wage employment they are endorsing, they "softly and silently vanish away".
You mean people emailing you to vent over how horrible a person you are don't choose to get in extended policy discussions with you, Megan? That's just... shocking. And as for assertion 1.... nope. At best a vast overstatement, more likely an outright lie.
Still, you have to love the hypocrisy. We go after Megan because we're men, not because she's wrong and supports bad things.
I'm pretty sure that if I were a man, most of them would not agressively [sic] accuse me of knowing nothing about the topic I write on solely based on the assurance of someone else who knows nothing about the topic I write on. Perhaps I am wrong, having never been a man, but based on watching public interactions between same, I surmise that the attacker would credit the notion that the man might have done something--other than being cute and possessing ovaries--to get his job, and therefore leave room for himself to back down. He would not start on the assumption that the man would be unable to respond to the overwhelming power of "you're an idiot who doesn't know what he's talking about."
.... Once again, I take it back. THAT was the stupidest passage Megan has ever written. Megan, you're familiar with Tbogg, Sadly, No!, Roy Edroso, Thers, etcetcetc. I don't know that even you are stupid enough to believe that, but how did you convince yourself enough to so much as write it? You really think guys treat each other with more respect? I know for a fact you are aware of the existence of Jonah Goldberg.
But complaining that they push me into silence would be shameful. First of all, it misses the most important point about these people, which is that they are completely hilarious. These stories are completely hilarious even when the person involved is not a pompous jerk--I laughed for about an hour at a story told by a scientist that involved explaining some major physics theorem to the airline passenger next to him, only to find that he was explaining it to the guy who had discovered it. But when you add cocksure misogyny to the picture, you've got comedy gold. I like to circulate the funnier emails to friends in the economics profession--it's hours of fun for the entire family.
If there's one thing Megan knows, it's comedy, like a story of a guy being disrespectful to another guy after a claim guys never treat other guys like that. As for this whole "expectation of silence" thing, yes, it's unfortunately a legitimate phenomenon and very bad thing. But it it has shit all to do with you, Megan. You're a paid pundit whose work is published by a major international magazine, not a beaten down housewife. You are not being silenced, you're being legitimately attacked for shoddy thought and work. Even we here at FMM do not ask, or even seek, that you be silenced. We merely feel you are unqualified for and shitty at the position you now hold. We're not saying "shut up". I mean, fuck, I copy entire posts by you into my own here. That's hardly telling you to be quiet. You are, in effect, blaming others for your unwillingness to accept criticism by responding to it this way.
But beyond that, really, who cares? Are you seriously going to outsource the design of your social persona to some guy who thinks that women who disagree with him are definitionally stupid? The behavior is sociologically interesting and socially annoying, but on the list of things that has radically impaired my life, this ranks well below the TSA. Honestly, the hardest part of these encounters is that awkward moment when he realizes that you know what you're talking about and he, alas, does not. Everyone pauses in silent embarassment [sic]. But I have learned that you can ride out your empathetic shame by fumbling in your pocketbook for a mint.

I don't mean to excuse their behavior; they're sexist jerks. But the correct response to sexist jerks is to ignore them and speak the hell up anyway. Eventually, the declining returns to being a sexist jerk will drive the species into extinction.
Men are sexist jerks. Or at least the liberal men who are the only people who've ever disagreed with Megan are. And there is no sexism involved in trying to dismiss people based solely on their gender. Megan, you make this blog so, so easy to produce. It's not us, it's you.


Clever Pseudonym said...

Megan's critics are not all men. I am not a man and there are plenty of occassions where she clearly didn't know what she was writing about. You know what would have been nice or maybe even helped prove that she was doing anything less than once again whining about been criticized? If she actually linked to an instance where somebody was calling her out on her facts when they were the one who actually got it wrong. I swear I've learned more about economics from Spencer on this site than I ever have from her.

I think I'm going to come up with the Aysmetrical Information drinking game. It might actually make reading her blog fun.

Susan of Texas said...

I feel marginalized because of my sex. Ann and Megan ignored me because I'm a woman. That's sexism! I'm invisible because I'm inconvenient to the male patriarchy, female division.

What can a girl do when she has a dream in her heart to bust open the doors of political snarking, armed with nothing but her trusty notebook, her wide-brimmed hat, and her Lois Lane suit?

I know betraying other women to men is a conservative gig, but I think a liberal gal can also learn to attack women while piously denying bias and claiming victimization.

NutellaonToast said...

I have a wide brimmed hat, too. It's for gardening. I got it after 8 hours sifting the rocks out of soil left me with a rather red neck. Pictures to come!

spencer said...

Wow, thanks, CP. Not that being able to impart more knowledge than Megan is a huge accomplishment, but still.

While I was reading snippets of her post, it occurred to me that Megan's understanding of economics is limited to the stuff that sounds impressive - for example, the fact that there are different models of minimum wage employment - but seems completely (perhaps willfully) oblivious to the fact that most economic models are extremely poor explanations of real-world forces and events.

While it's impressive to me to read that Megan has apparently memorized at least the broad strokes of multiple economic models, that only goes so far. Understanding why economic models so often fail to predict actual events is, in my opinion, a much more important sort of knowledge for an economist to have. And she doesn't really seem to grasp that at all.

M. Bouffant said...

Remember, she's not an
actual economist, she's an MBA w/ a major (or something) in economics.

Perhaps we could take up a collection & send her back to get a real doctorate in econ. Then she might not be posting madly away at The Atlantic.

Susan of Texas said...

Megan holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

--Megan's bio.

She's not a writer or an economist.

spencer said...

Malignant, the last thing we want is for Megan to have credentials.

She still won't understand a goddamn thing about economics, but she'll have a piece of paper - probably from a suitably impressive school - that says she knows what she's talking about.

Think she's insufferable now? Just wait . . .