Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dangerous faux research

Dishonest dealings tend to drive honest dealings out of the market.

The cost of dishonesty, therefore,
lies not only in the amount by which the purchaser is cheated;
the cost also must include the loss incurred
from driving legitimate business out of existence.”

George Akerlof

"...McKinsey has refused to release details of its survey methodology
that backs the finding that 30% of employers intend to drop coverage as a result of the ACA.

...30% is a dramatically higher figure than any other credible organization has suggested.

...anybody can say what they like on a topic.

They can put out a glossy report.

They can claim they did a “survey” to make it sound scientifically rigorous.

They can talk to the media all about it.

They can stand behind their good name and reputation, if they have one.

But when what they’re saying runs counter to previous experience and other credible estimates,
they’d better have a good explanation.

But, McKinsey has no explanation. None. They’re stonewalling.

You know what would happen to me if I tried that?

Suppose I sent my new results to a journal,
results that were very different from that of others, and said, “Trust me. They’re good.”

Well, my paper would be laughed out of the editorial office.

And that’s as it should be. That would not be research. That would be the opposite of research.

That would be indistinguishable from making things up.

Well, anybody can make things up.

The difference between making things up and actually doing some sound,
rigorous work is the difference between fiction and reality.

...If you don’t have the ability or willingness to provide the support for your claims,
if you don’t even recognize that you should be able to do that,
then I’m pretty sure you can’t even see reality from your vantage point."

The Incidental Economist 

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