By the Numbers: Is the unemployment rate a “big lie”?

Jim Clifton, chairman and CEO of the polling company Gallup, published an opinion piece this week denouncing the official unemployment rate of 5.6% as a “big lie.” It’s a lie, he says, repeated to make the Obama administration look good and deceive Americans about the economy. “The media loves a comeback story,” he writes, “the White House wants to score … Continued

Is the US becoming an economic oligarchy?

Recently Cathy published a piece at the Center For a Stateless Society titled “The New Oligarchs,” in which she argues that U.S. economy has become increasingly calcified, unequal, and immobile, with a new rentier class of financial oligarchs. It’s a provocatively pessimistic article, but there are number of points that bear closer scrutiny. “[I]n the 1970’s, the gap … Continued

The Ante Hoc Fallacy

Whenever I argue with conspiracy theorists, I often run into a kind of logical fallacy that I’d like to dub the ante hoc fallacy. In the post hoc, ergo propter hoc (“after this, therefore because of this”) fallacy, the reasoner assumes that because one event follows another, the second was caused by the first. In the ante hoc (“before this”) fallacy, … Continued

Islam and Europe’s False Debate: Denial vs. Xenophobia

Following the brutal massacre at the French paper Charlie Hebdo, Yascha Mounk has posted an interesting piece over at Slate (“Europe’s Brutal Truth“) about the false debate in European politics between right-wing hatred of Muslim immigrants (“They must be stopped!”) and left-wing denial of any problems with Islam (“It’s not about religion!”). While the European far right points to Islamic terrorism … Continued

Nobody Cares if Torture “Works”

I’ve long thought that, like the death penalty, support for torture is more about exacting retribution against bad people than it is about the utility of the policy in protecting good people. This why I expect that the Senate’s report detailing the horrors of the CIA’s torture program and debunking claims about its effectiveness in preventing terrorism … Continued

Michael Pollan: Do gas stations “make more on food than gas”?

I recently came across this Facebook meme that claims that gas stations “now make more money selling food than gasoline,” attributed to popular food critic Michael Pollan. First, he really did say this (more or less) in his booklet Food Rules: Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does. Gas stations in … Continued