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At Mind Matters News: Detecting BS data: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is

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This is just as true in science as in other disciplines:

Two Johns Hopkins economists recently wrote a Wall Street Journal opinion piece titled, “Jerome Powell Is Wrong. Printing Money Causes Inflation.” Their argument is that Federal Reserve chair Powell is mistaken in his assertions that there is not a close relationship between money and inflation.

[The economists offered a chart … ]

I learned of this WSJ nonsense via an e-mail from Jay Cordes. Jay is not an economist, but he does know data and he knows that predictions of human behavior are never as precise as indicated in the WSJ:

“Okay, I’m calling bullcrap on that chart below. No “predictions” ever match up that well with reality. What’s the trick?”

The moral is that if you encounter empirical claims that are implausible (like Asian-Americans being prone to heart attacks on the fourth day of every month or hurricanes being deadlier if they have female names), or results that are too good to be true, they probably aren’t true.

Gary Smith, “Detecting BS data: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” at Mind Matters News (February 28, 2022)

Takehome: Business prof Gary Smith: A recent Wall Street Journal article shows a near-perfect link between inflation and money. But a link that near-perfect raises suspicions. Precise predictions of human behavior are implausible and rarely match up to the far more complicated reality

Oh, while we are here anyway, about the Asian American heart patients and also the hurricanes, see:

The British Medical Journal’s top picks in junk medical science. In its legendary Christmas edition, the Journal highlights the worst offenders. The publicized studies have twisted and tortured data to come up with suspicious or ridiculous conclusions. Here’s how they did it.

and

Female hurricanes: How a mass of hot air became a zombie study. When a reporter first asked me about a study claiming that “Female Hurricanes are Deadlier than Male Hurricanes,” I was sceptical. Do sexist humans die because they don’t take hurricanes with female names seriously? No, the study is seriously flawed.

5 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Detecting BS data: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Fed heads are not mistaken, they’re lying. They know exactly what they’re doing, and they’re succeeding magnificently.

    Goal: Bezos == universe, all non-Bezos objects NULL.

  2. 2
    jerry says:

    Frankie Valli lives on

    Too Good To Be True

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQugcviHDTA

  3. 3
    BobRyan says:

    Inflation comes from too many dollars, or whatever happens to be used for currency in a given country, are being used to purchase goods that are limited for any number of reasons. There are other factors that lead to it beyond the basic definition. Low interest rates increase inflation, but the fed is not raising rates and have not in many years. Higher interest rates take money out of the economy, which is needed to combat inflation. Energy comes into play, since the more energy a nation produces, the cheaper the fuel used by truck who transport goods. The higher the cost of fuel, the higher the cost at the consumer level. Shutting down the economy in many states resulted in fewer goods being manufactured in the United States, which put a greater strain on what is being produced elsewhere. Fewer goods increases prices for those goods. Add to that the mess at the docks resulting in ships being backlogged, means fewer goods entering the country to reach the consumers. High crime that results in theft from trucks and trains means fewer good reaching the consumers.

    Easy solution, which is why the government will not take it. Increase energy production, which reduces the price or fuel. Remind the states they had no Constitutional authority to shut down any business, since interstate and international commerce are under the power of the United States Congress. Opening states means opening manufacturing and other businesses. Those good not being produced in the United States that were a couple of years ago will result in more goods reaching the people and reducing the cost to the consumer. Raise the interest rates to get excess cash out of the market.

  4. 4
    EvilSnack says:

    I had always suspected that inflation comes when a market player is insulated from market forces, so that he is able to raise his prices without risking market share. While situations like this can arise in the short term from a variety of causes, only government action can provide such insulation in the long term.

  5. 5
    Scamp says:

    This reminds me of the claim by Fischer (I think) that Mendel’s genetics data (smooth values wrinkled peas) was fudged. Not intentionally, but by unintentional bias by his assistant. If my memory is correct, and there is no guarantee of that, the probability of getting the ratios that he repeatedly obtained would be astronomically low.

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