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10/18/14

Data versus anecdotals

Gary BiiWii makes a point today about negative feedback, which included this passage:
"...my point with this post is not to cry over some negative feedback.  It is to sort of shake my head publicly about how some people refuse to open their eyes while digging in to a failed view point no matter how long its failure persists."
That's fair enough, I agree, what's more it's a riff I've seen in other places recently, too (eg Krugman's been shaking his head publicly the last couple of days over his "inflation derp" enemies). I'd encourage you to read the whole article (even over a weekend when people shouldn't care so much about worky cashy profity things) to get the context, though after reading it I have two things to add:

1) Look at the words used by the negative commenter: "completely wrong", "absolutely no credibility", "definitely don't" are all used in that very short extract and if there's one thing I've learned about macro debate, the person who uses absolutes is the person who's talking out of his large intenstine, rectum and sphincter.

2) Too many people who think they have a valid opinion (and don't) fail to understand what data collection and statistics are trying to achieve, either through ignorance or simple refusal to accept things that challenge their own personal realities. Dullards all, their worldview boils down to "This is like this for me therefore it must be exactly the same for the whole of humanity" and is boring, boring and three times boring. Data and stats don't have the last word on anything and are in the end subjective in their own manner, but they're far less subjective than dumbass who writes in absolutes and when done correctly (or even reasonably well is enough) they convey more experiences of more people than one person's subjective experiences. Data compiled by people such as the Fed don't exactly match anyone's life, they try to get a handle on the median life. 

Anyway, go read Gary's post today. Good stuff as always.