Death by Excel and the power of Mach 10 media

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How sad, how sad to celebrate the liberty of media globalization in such a way. I am referring to the recent Rogoff-Reinhart incident or already better known as the R-R-gate. Some people discovered a mistake – an excel programmed calculation error – which puts the R-R thesis of “post crisis slow growth in a debt > 90% of GDP environment “on shaky foundations. A storm of comments immediately followed on Twitter and some were really not that kind, including even his own fellow academic colleagues such as Krugman. And certainly because these people in the past were not so intellectually honest themselves when it came to prove certain economic lemmas.

The thing that bothers me the most is the speed and the intensity with which the comments followed on Twitter. My colleague shared this with me and he himself was astonished. I myself am not on Twitter for this reason. I can understand that people interact and interconnect but this Rogoff incident just shows how fast things can get out of hand. Speed or being first is not always a synonym for sharing wisdom, on the contrary : “Before saying something, think ; and before thinking, read” (Fran Lebowitz)

And to prove this : on Twitter, there were even comments circulating that if Rogoff could make such a “bad” mistake, we should seriously question his chess capacities. Well my dear friends, have I got news for you :

And : Rogoff drew chess games against former world champions such as Tal, Petrosian, drew against Larsen and last year played a blitz game against Magnus Carlsen, successor of Fisher/Kasparov and with currently the highest ELO rating ever. He drew the game.

So when people start sending messages like that, questioning the chess capacities of an economic nitwit :

A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.

BERTRAND RUSSELL, A History of Western Philosophy

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.


Stupidity has a price and it always gets paid.

DAN SIMMONS, Carrion Comfort


This article was written by Econopolis

on 17 April, 2013