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Every time I read the news, I see articles upbeat on the economy

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Socratic Method is one of the oldest and most respected forms of productive debate. There are many unproductive methods. All of which should be avoided. Socratic method is a very old and respected means to quickly and definitively resolve difficult issues by adhering to rules of conversation which are carefully designed to keep the discussion on track and drive it toward rapid and unreserved conclusion. Conclusion is reached when after carefully selecting questions designed to spotlight an affirmation's error, no one involved in the conversation is any longer willing to dispute the rationality of the affirmation.

Wikipedia on Socratic Method

In this way, conclusion is forced upon those who remain in disagreement, but have no rational reason for their disagreement. One remaining in disagreement is forced to admit "I still disagree, but fail to provide a reason for my disagreement which others perceive as rational." The irrationality of his or her position becomes obvious to those involved in the conversation.

For this reason Socratic Method is very unpopular with politicians who often desire to remain uncommitted on some issues.

How do I comment in Socratic Method if I disagree?

Do not pose an alternate position or attempt to show that there is a better way to handle the issue. This is the error most make in debate. Nothing ever ends up resolved because both sides continue supporting their respective and opposing views and neither view is refuted. Neither party has any reason to concede. Neither party finds it intellectually embarrassing to continue supporting their original position.

First, make sure you disagree. An argument is not won with fancy words, but by discovering the winning side before choosing your position. Is your position winnable? If not, accept it and change your mind, otherwise Socratic Method will reveal your irrationality to others. Once you've answered that, list the assumptions upon which the affirmed statement rests, and which if shown to be false, make the affirmed statement's error obvious to others.

Restate that assumption in language and terminology which make the affirmation's reliance upon the assumption obvious and ask those affirming if they agree with the assumption.

If the assumption is specious, wait to point out the assumption's flaw in your second question after those affirming answer their agreement with the assumption. Post "Considering that you agree with that particular assumption, do you also agree with its obviously erroneous implication, thus.....?

If you have difficulty finding an erroneous assumption or an error of conclusion implied by assumptions made in the affirmation, double check that you still disagree. You may find, to your surprise that you agreed with the statement all along. You just didn't think about it carefully enough at first.

Take a look at the BLS charts -US Bureau of Labor Statistics. All chart data is sourced BLS website. The blue are employed and after 2008, it looks like a crooked smiley face. That's gotta be good.  Right?

After sagging in 2008, slow steady increase in the number of jobs since the beginning of 2010 should spell better times ahead. Don't for one minute think that any economic indicator means anything other than squat unless accompanied by jobs. It just doesn't matter how much is for sale if people can't buy it. So if jobs are on the way up, we have fundamental support for an improving economy.

This month's jobs decline isn't important. Look at the trend. The trend looks like it is on the rise. Well... it looks that way because we humans think linearly. Back it up and look at the green line. The final height of all three categories gives the sum total population. What do you think that has been doing for the entire time? Yup. Rising. So... What would the same employment graph look like if we adjusted for population growth to see if the apparent continual slow rise in employment is real or if it is just keeping up with population.

Uhhh oh, the smiley face disappears when we look at the "portion US population employed" As anyone can see, we have had a very hard time just keeping pace and are actually losing jobs slowly over time. The last technical high was lower than the first high in early 2010.

The yellow and red lines in the first graph begin to diverge in late 2008. The red is unemployment as reported by the BLS. The yellow is unemployment against a constantly increasing US population. By manipulating the size of the divergence, the BLS can adjust the official unemployment rate.

If we adjust the unemployment rate by the same factor, we have just fallen to 11% before starting a climb again, but as the BLS reports it, we're doing great, under 8%, on the road to recovery. If they are right, these graphs will show it over the next couple of months. Anyone want to make a bet? 'cause that's what we're doing anyway, with every dollar we spend or don't spend.

'Tell you what I am thinking about. Fundemantal obsticles to world economic growth such as population growth rates in the decline. Fundamental shifts in demographics and the fundamental impact they have on political motivations, and sociological trends.  After all, why did the BLS begin to diverge the rates anyway?  Perhaps because policy makers realize sociological trends have a way of taking on a life of their own and making or breaking economies rather than simply providing a measure of them.

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Your Comment:         March 20, 11pm


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