OMNILIBRIUM
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julia1 1 May 2015 01:44 PM
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I like the original analogy. The definition of addiction is that you keep repeating the same behavior, that makes you feel better in the short term, and is destructive in the long term. This fits with both drug addiction, and repeated stimulus through increasing deficit. The analogy with the parent whose child is hit by a car is worse in my opinion, because (1) It is absolutely clear that the life of a child trumps other concerns (unlike temporary possible improvement of economy), and (2) this is not an event that repeats regularly, and cannot develop into a habit.

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antat 1 May 2015 02:02 PM
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But again, it's just an analogy. It's not evidence. It's possible I could argue that giving drugs to a drug addict is actually a good idea (see methadone) but even if I did that we wouldn't be any closer to the truth of whether government spending is good for an economy. We could argue all day about drugs, but the actual question remains unanswered.



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melian 1 May 2015 02:29 PM
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I'm really curious. When we try to predict the future (for instance, the consequences of government borrowing), is there a way to avoid using analogies? What arguments could be considered as evidence?

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julia1 1 May 2015 02:16 PM
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You are right - this is not a proof. The thing is in human debates it is rare (if not impossible) to give a sound proof of an argument. Saying that this behavior looks like addiction, and should be treated as such makes sense, though it does not prove anything. In fact, anything you can write can be questioned that way - you can't prove claims about real life, you can only build a hypothesis that seems consistent with your observations. Some are more compelling than others, and of course everything is subjective - which is why we have different opinions.

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antat 1 May 2015 04:22 PM
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I never used the word "proof". I try to be careful to couch phrasing in an accurate way. I'm not always successful, but "proof" and "prove" get flagged in my head. "Developing model about the world that is consistent with evidence" is a pretty good definition of what I might abbreviate to "finding the truth". "Proving" involves providing the evidence.

That said, not everything is subjective. That's the whole point of evidence. That's one reason why people changes their minds to come to agreement with another. Other reasons people change their mind include pretty analogies and coercion but neither of those gets us closer to the truth. I'm not equating those two, just using examples.

An analogy is not evidence. The problem with analogies is we can argue about drug use and addiction. Maybe giving drugs to a drug addict is a good idea (see Norway, or methadone), but true or false, we're still no closer to the question of whether deficit spending is good for an economy!

It's not a good analogy because a drug user and an national economy are so completely utterly different, comparing them doesn't bring us any new knowledge about economies.

"I see government repeat policies in similar situations without achieving their desired results". That's what I think the analogy is trying to say. That's an observation, that's evidence. Strong evidence or weak, it's a starting point. And then we need to dig deeper.

Is that statement true? Is our observation accurate? Well, in the US, quantitative easing had never been done before and it's been successful. That's evidence that the above statement is false. Ah, how do I know it's never been done before? How do I know it's successful? And then we have a discussion about facts, evidence, and we get closer to the truth.

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