Everyone knows that correlation doesn't imply causation
, but researchers invariably need to come up with plausible explanations (i.e., models) for the patterns found in their data. However, very different models can "explain" the same pattern. The books The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
and Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places
by Oxford economist Paul Collier
try to explain why some countries have remained poor using data from econometric studies. In his very interesting review
(PDF), Mike McGovern
, a political anthropologist at Yale, critiques the types of explanations found in popular economics books. Statistician Andrew Gelman has further thoughts on descriptive statistics, causal inference, and story time
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear
on Jul 13, 2011 -
MTV's Jersey Shore
, a Real World
-style reality program centered around eight young Italian-Americans living together in a beach house, is garnering charges of racism
following their use of the allegedly pejorative terms guido
and the feminine counterpart guidette
in advertisements. But what exactly is
a guido? [more inside]
posted by joechip
on Jan 3, 2010 -
Prominent blogger Andrew Sullivan develops an unhealthy obsession
over the (lack of) details surrounding the birth of Sarah Palin's youngest child. Sullivan really, really won't let it go.
Persistent rumors lead the editor of the Alaska Daily News to, "finally decide, after watching this go on unabated for months, to let a reporter try to do a story about the 'conspiracy theory that would not die' and, possibly, report the facts of Trig's birth thoroughly enough to kill the nonsense once and for all." Palin releases press release
slamming the paper. Editor of paper publishes email
from Palin's office along with his response. Palin complains
about "bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers who lie," says episode is, "more indication of continued problems in the world of journalism." She also thinks Katie Couric is bad at journalism,
not the center of everybody's universe, and is exploiting Palin. Mike Huckabee disagrees, says Couric was "extraordinarily gentle" with Palin.
Political pundits and journalists are left scratching their heads - is she crazy? Or a crazy genius?
2012 is just around the corner.
posted by billysumday
on Jan 13, 2009 -
Byron Calame, public editor of The New York Times, wrote a piece recently about how a faulty Page One story went unchallenged. He notes that despite a questionable premise, the story went uncorrected for a week, and even provoked a piece of art on the Times' op-ed page. Calame's piece gives us a tiny bit of insight into editorial mistakes and correction policies in the media, particularly when challenged from the outside. You get the sense of a behemoth bureaucracy in motion, difficult to head off, harder yet to correct. The Times itself collected some of its more ridiculous errors in its book Kill Duck Before Serving
a few years ago. But less amusing is what law professor Eric Muller found. In early May, he heard Fox News' Judge Andrew Napolitano telling a story meant to illustrate how out of control the federal government's commerce-governing powers have become. Though Muller researched the supposed case Napolitano reported and found nothing in the legal archives, and asked Napolitano for more details, Napolitano has yet to respond.
posted by etaoin
on May 25, 2006 -