5th Grader Smarter than a George Mason University Economics Professor

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Bfgrn, Jun 9, 2010.

  1. Bfgrn
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    Bfgrn Gold Member

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    I first came across this study by George Mason University's Daniel Klein and Zogby International's Zeljka Buturovic, which appeared as a journal article in Econ Journal Watch, which Klein edits, in a link at Tyler Cowen's site several weeks ago. Cowen links to about a dozen interesting pieces every day, and I thought Klein's study was so obviously flawed that it wasn't really worth commenting on. But now it has re-appeared in the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, with the somewhat non-sequitur title, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?".

    Here's what Klein and Buturovic did. They took a survey using one of Zogby's internet panels, which is by far the worst polling instrument that they could have selected. The panel was not weighted and was not in balance...

    If you were expecting fifth grade questions about supply and demand, you'd be wrong. Let me just say: I come at this as a University of Chicago economics graduate who indeed disagrees with the liberal orthodoxy on many economic matters. But questions such as "[Does] poverty cause crime?", which was one of the questions that Klein and Buturovic excluded without explanation, are more like Zen meditations than matters of basic economics.

    ...

    So basically, what you're left with a number of questions in which people respond out of their ideological reference points because the questions are ambiguous, substanceless, or confusing. Klein is blaming the victims, as it were.

    There would have been much better ways to construct a study like this one. For instance, questions could have been developed from standardized tests of high school students, like the AP Economics exam, or from surveys of academic economists. Such studies might well support Klein's thesis. But between the poorly-considered questions and the poor choice of survey partner, this amounts to junk science.

    Whole article...
     
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  2. rightwinger
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    rightwinger Paid Messageboard Poster Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    What they did was take a survey of opinions ( strongly agree, agree, neither agree or disagree, disagree, strongly disagree) and applied rightwing conservative values to determining right or wrong responses.

    A Fifth Grader would be embarassed to put their name to it
     
  3. rightwinger
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    rightwinger Paid Messageboard Poster Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Economics 101 vs. Polling 101: Why Daniel Klein may be right, but for the wrong reasons | Washington Examiner

    Ultimately, Klein is polling not on what is right or wrong (or enlightened or unenlightened as he puts it) but rather on whether people agree or disagree with his conclusions. Not surprisingly, we discover that conservatives and libertarians agree with Klein far more than progressives and liberals. Klein is, after all, a libertarian-leaning George Mason University economics professor.

    Whether or not you agree or disagree with Klein’s economics it’s important to note that this is bad polling done for strictly partisan reasons. The bias is practically dripping from the Op-Ed's pages. I wouldn’t be surprised if a good portion of progressives and liberals really did have some fundamental flaws in their thinking on economic matters, but conservatives shouldn’t take too much comfort in the results of a clearly slanted poll either.

    Understanding Econ 101 is one thing; understanding the much more complex economic systems of the real world is something else entirely. In that regard, Americans of all political stripes are woefully lacking.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2010
  4. CrusaderFrank
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    CrusaderFrank Diamond Member

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    Lib Economics:

    Free Enterprise: The cause of every problem

    Mo N' Bigga Gubbamint: The solution to every problem

    1. What caused the housing collapse? Free Enterprise
    2. How can we fix the mess? Mo n' Bigga Gubbamint

    3. How did we get a $1 trillion annual deficit? Free Enterprise
    4. How can we get back to a balanced budget? Mo n' Bigga Gubbamint

    5. How did Social Security and Medicare get underfunded in the ten trillions column? Free Enterprise
    6. How can we make up the shortfall? Mo N' Bigga Gubbamint

    7. How can we keep prescription drugs affordable? Mo N' Bigga Gubbamint

    8. How can we give everyone free ObamaCare? Mo N' Bigga Gubbamint

    9. What caused the Civil War? Free Enterprise
     
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    Last edited: Jun 9, 2010
  5. Bfgrn
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    Bfgrn Gold Member

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    Is this your attempt to skip up to the 5th grade Frankie? Sorry, you will be in Miss Smith's 1st grade class next fall...
     
  6. rightwinger
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    rightwinger Paid Messageboard Poster Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    More likely he will be in Miss Landry's Special Needs class
     
  7. rightwinger
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    rightwinger Paid Messageboard Poster Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    As Silver notes, there are broadly held views on issues like free trade, but once you get past the very general consensus you run into myriad points of disagreement. Furthermore, questions about living standards hardly strike me as easily boiled down to right and wrong answers. Many questions are simply vague and misleading.

    Silver writes:

    "If you were expecting fifth grade questions about supply and demand, you'd be wrong. Let me just say: I come at this as a University of Chicago economics graduate who indeed disagrees with the liberal orthodoxy on many economic matters. But questions such as "[Does] poverty cause crime?", which was one of the questions that Klein and Buturovic excluded without explanation, are more like Zen meditations than matters of basic economics.

    Others were poorly phrased, for instance: "A company that has the largest market share is a monopoly?". This is confusing; having the largest market share is a necessary, though hardly sufficient, condition for being a monopoly, and no alternative definitions were presented. Is this question really an objective basis for determining whether someone is more or less "enlightened" (that's actually the term that Klein uses!) about economics?



    Read more at the Washington Examiner: Economics 101 vs. Polling 101: Why Daniel Klein may be right, but for the wrong reasons | Washington Examiner
     

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