How to Discover the Truth with Statistics

Regular readers may remember my post, “How to Lie with Statistics,” where I criticized ASU economist Richard Rogerson for misleading the public with bad math. I showed the nonsense in his claim “that raising taxes will turn us into a bunch of lazy old Europeans.”

Since I’m going to be writing about taxes a lot this week, now is a good time to show how a responsible statistician approaches this issue. The following is a summary of two excellent posts by University of Arizona political scientist Lane Kenworthy.   Continue reading “How to Discover the Truth with Statistics”

Income Inequality Tells a Story…and Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise

University of Arizona social scientist Lane Kenworthy is one of the country’s best researchers in poverty and inequality, as well as a regular reader of this blog. So when I saw that he would be joining this month’s Cato Unbound debate on income inequality, I couldn’t wait to read it. But when I read the lead essay by Will Wilkinson, I knew Kenworthy’s essay would leave me disappointed. I was right.

Kenworthy shouldn’t feel responsible for my disappointment. He did his usual superlative job. The reason it didn’t meet my expectations was because Wilkinson’s essay led Kenworthy to bat down a frustratingly common misconception, and he could only spend a few paragraphs on more interesting matters, like policies and solutions. Kenworthy did the right thing. Wilkinson based the bulk of his argument on a rather obtuse assumption. I almost expected him to do this before I even read the essay–it’s a common libertarian criticism–but I was hoping he wouldn’t back Kenworthy into that corner. He did, and Kenworthy couldn’t let readers walk away believing Wilkinson’s naive story.

What did Wilkinson say that strikes me as so misguided?   Continue reading “Income Inequality Tells a Story…and Don’t Let Anyone Tell You Otherwise”