Backwards Causation

In the course of a
rather uncollegial attack on Paul Krugman, Ben Stein
makes the following rather striking claim. The Great Depression was caused by
the New Deal. Now the Depression did not start with the stock market crash of
1929. But it was well underway by 1932. And the New Deal did not start getting
implemented until 1933. Now maybe it was exacerbated by the New Deal, but by
most measures the worst of the Depression was before the New Deal came in. What
can we conclude from all this? That Ben Stein has less grasp of history than
we’d expect of the average high-school sophomore. Well, that wouldn’t be a
philosophically interesting conclusion now, would it? Better to conclude that
Ben Stein believes in backwards
. And since Ben Stein is clearly one of the folk, this means that
the folk believe in backwards causation. (What, you think that a game show host
who dabbles in economics is not part of the folk? If he isn’t, who is?) This is
a philosophical bombshell!