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Homophily and Causation: Snarking on Journalists Edition

- June 26, 2010

“Jonathan Chait”:https://themonkeycage.org/2010/06/chait_on_noonan.html eat your heart out and watch Cosma Shalizi really “go to town on Ross Douthat”:http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/weblog/662.html. Advantage: statistics academia.

bq. I have long thought that most opinion writers could be replaced, to the advantage of all concerned, by stochastic context-free grammars. Their readers would be no less well-informed about how the world is and what should be done about it, would receive no less surprise and delight at the play of words and ideas, and the erstwhile writers would be free to pursue some other trade, which did not so corrode their souls. One reason I feel this way is that these writers habitually make stuff up because it sounds good to them, even when actual knowledge is attainable. They have, as a rule,_ no intellectual conscience._ Yesterday, therefore, if you had told me that one of their number actually sought out some social science research, I would have applauded this as a modest step towards a better press corps.

bq. Today, alas, I am reminded that _looking_ at research is not helpful, unless you have the skills and skepticism to _evaluate_ the research.

From there it gets snarkier. _Much_ snarkier.