Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Because Publishing Stupid Statistics Makes You Famous

I would like to thank Mark Liberman at Language Log for posting his article entitled "Why Are Economists So Misleading?" In it, Liberman debunks the much discussed study reporting an alleged "happiness gap" that exists between men and women. The real question, Liberman asserts: not why women are so unhappy, but why economists (and journalists) are so prone to oversell tiny group differences as if they were universal characteristics of the individual group members.
Hummm... I am reminded of the Women Like Pink study, among others. The "happiness gap" study is just one more great example of how the most insignificant data is often overstated, included in some folksy article aimed at lending credibility to a common stereotype or myth, and then published in popular journals to create a media stir. "The real effect here, I think, is the public's hunger for 'scientific' evidence about sex roles, as a basis for releasing pent-up negative emotions about personal relationships and social status anxiety," Liberman writes. I would have to say that I agree.
Via Feministing.


Casmall said...

Spot on feelings about economists. I get the feeling they look at a topic till they get any answer they expect and then stop thinking about it.

La Pobre Habladora said...

I certainly felt that way about . It is a great seller, but I don't feel like any real truth can be found within its pages.

La Pobre Habladora said...

Blogger occasionally boggles my mind. Read the above as "I certainly felt that way about Freakonomics..."