David Frum Makes a Stupid Argument-by-Authority About Healthcare

David Sirota was debating (although given that said 'debate' occurred on cable TV, that's probably far too genteel a word) David Frum about healthcare, when Sirota brought up the finding that 45,000 people in the U.S. die every year from a lack of health insurance. Frum's response is incredibly arrogant (go to the 4:00 mark):

Sirota is absolutely right that Frum's discounting of the study with "I went to Harvard, believe me" is incredibly arrogant. But what's worse is what came first:

"That number is not a reliable number, that number is an estimate."*

And evolution is just a theory. Oops, got ahead of myself.

Yes, it's an estimate. Most research, at some level, requires estimates--statistical significance itself is an estimate. Obviously, the Congressional Budget Office's estimates of healthcare costs are, erm, estimates. The two other studies that also, ahem, estimate the number of deaths due to lack of health insurance also use estimates.

But, of course, Frum isn't bothered by the way the estimates are calculated--I doubt he understands or has even bothered to read the studies. He is, however, terrified of government supported health insurance, so he's willing (and needs) to categorically dismiss these as 'estimates.' It's really no different from when Michael Behe at the Dover trial categorically dismissed several books and dozens of articles refuting the 'irreducible complexity' of the immune system: It contradicts me, therefore, it is invalid.

That, not the Harvard line, is the really egregious part: Frum's arrogance of ignorance.

It's not just a result of laziness, but also willful ignorance. Frum can't refute the health insurance findings**, so he dismisses inconvenient data out of hand. I don't know why Frum is taken seriously as an intellectual when he engages in the same pseudointellectualism that creationists do.

*I think that's what he said, but Frum mumbled.

**Corporate shills are either really off their game, or else have had so much success that they've become incredibly arrogant. They used to try to muddy the waters a bit--"Well, other studies suggest a different result...." Now they just flat-out ignore reality. Granted, it still seems to work, so why should they stop....

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By Larry Linn (not verified) on 06 Dec 2009 #permalink

Douglas W. Elmendorf, the CBO Director, went to Harvard too so it makes it and even stupider argument.

By katydid13 (not verified) on 06 Dec 2009 #permalink

And Frum, remember, presents himself as the voice of reason and moderation and intelligence in the Republican party.

By william e emba (not verified) on 08 Dec 2009 #permalink