Goes to James Lindgren, a law professor at Northwestern and a VC contributor. Ever since Obama won the Democratic Party's nomination, he's been on a Quixotic quest to post the most absurd and unfounded thoughts. The latest gem is this post
. For full effect, please do read the post. Try not to throw your laptop when doing so.
So here's why Lindgren is so deserving of this award.
1. No comments. Now I'm not one to give unsolicited blogging advice, but I find it curious that when VC commenters (not a liberal bunch) began to push back on his unhinged and unfounded speculations and innuendos, he solved the problem by disabling comments on his posts. Consider this post my "comment" prof.
2. Chutzpah. The guy is working on a PhD from the University of Chicago in Sociology. As a psych major, it is my duty to mock the entire field of so-easy-ology. But banter aside, don't you need to grasp like middle school level research methods to get a PhD in Soc? I have no clue who Lindgren's PhD advisor is, but I'd sure as hell have a talk with him about his basic competence if this post is any indication of his "research" abilities.
3. Providing a caricature of the "confirmation bias
." The "methods" used by Lindgren are uh well they're not methods at all. It's just playing with data to get it to fit your preconceived notions. First, at best he points to a correlation. But there isn't really any evidence of a correlation either. Second, there's absolutely nothing to suggest that income tax rates and union participation in any way CAUSE higher unemployment rates. Nothing. I don't see a correlation because the data is grossly cherrypicked. Why focus on the top 6? The next states with the highest unemployment rates
are: Nevada, Indiana, DC, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida. Nevada has no income tax. I'm sure Indiana is under solid GOP control. And Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida don't strike me as high taxes / high union states. Is the 10.4 unemployment rate in Nevada that much different than the 10.5 rate in Rhode Island that it warranted being kept off Lindgren's list? The larger point is, if there is any correlation, it should be formally established, and not just hinted at by selectively looking at the data only as long as they are favorable for your world view.
4. Again providing a caricature of the confirmation bias. Aside from looking at data highly selectively, Lindgren does not bother with any possible alternative explanations for the data. Again, reaching back to my LAUSD science education, I think this is a big no-no. He hints at geography as a factor for the states with the lowest unemployment. [This is of course an "uh drrrr" observation because the plains states did not have as much an increase in housing prices during the bubble, therefore they have not been touched as much by the burst]. But he ignores any alternative explanations for the high unemployment rates.
Let's look a bit closer at California as a state with high taxes and union participation. A lot of the job cuts are the result of the state budget crisis fueled in very large part by the California Republicans refusing any increase in taxes. That is, if we had raised our taxes, we would have had lower unemployment numbers. [One should not confuse this as contending that the Democrats in Sacto are effective at governing. I'd never slander their inability to get anything done.] Next up, Michigan--uh yeah I have noooooooooo idea why they have unemployment. Must be the unions!!! And to avoid an accusation that I'm doing the same thing as Lindgren, yes, years of cushy union benefits contributed to the eventual downfall of the American carmakers. But the complete meltdown of an entire industry that is the dominant economic engine of a state (see high tech in California) is an intervening cause with union memberships relegated to the sidelines. At least that's what I think just by looking at the situation. I'm not drawing absolute conclusions based on thin air. The Carolinas are suffering with the rest of the South (see Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida above). So taxes don't explain their problems. Leaving us only Rhode Island, which just generally sucks. We don't need to run an ANOVA to figure that one out.
But if Lindgren had is way, we'd slash taxes and unions and hope everyone ends up like Iowa. Seriously? Sociology PhD from Chicago? Any one in that department want to buy my rock that keeps away tigers?
5. John Edward has already won the award once.
Labels: Rabid Conservatives