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December 20, 2010


Top Ten List item #2 Pac-Man videos.
Pac-Man video #4 the Pac-Man running through New York City is the best.

The PIPA survey used flawed questions IMHO.

E.g., respondents were asked whether most economists who have studied the stimulus believed it saved or created several million jobs. That's the wrong question. The right question is, How many jobs did the stimulus save or create, net of the jobs it destroyed? I would guess that many respondents actually answered the latter question. Of course, the net impact of the stimulus can only be a matter of opinion and judgment. We do know that millions of jobs were lost after the stimulus was passed.

PIPA's evidence for what "most economists" believe is inadequate. They quote a panel of economists maintained by the Wall Street Journal. However, the panel is quoted addressing a different question. A majority of the panel did not say that the stimulus added millions of jobs, but only that the stimulus had had a net positive effect on growth.

P.S. It's interesting to compare beliefs regarding the supposed effect of the stimulus with the supposed effect of tax rate cuts. Four times in the last 90 years, income tax rates were sharply cut. In each case, tax dollars collected then rose sharply. President Obama's stimulus was followed by a big loss of jobs.

Someone who believes liberal authorities would argue that the rise in tax dollars collected would have been even greater without the cuts in tax rates in each of these four cases. And, the huge loss of jobs would have been even worse without Obama's stimulus.

However, it's non-intuitive to believe that actions which led to increased taxes collected actually reduced taxes collected. And, it's non-intuitive to believe that an action that led to a big loss of jobs actually added jobs. At some point, one faces the question, Who do you believe -- the liberal authorities or your lying eyes?

Interesting juxtaposition of Gingrich's plummeting approval in 1995 and Gail Collins's article, "The Gingrich Who Stole Christmas." That title is taken from a Time Magazine cover in 1994, when Gingrich became Speaker of the House. It typifies the kind of mean-spirited, puerile coverage that Gingrich received from the main stream media. It's an appropriate title for Collins's column, because it's filled with puerile nastiness.

The media attacked Gingrich from the beginning. Eventually, they used his complaint about being in the back of the Presidential plane to destroy his reputation.

Current financial crisis at all levels of government shows the wisdom of Gingrich's call for frugality. However, IMHO Gingrich's demonization is complete. The fact that history proves he was right cannot rehabilitate his reputation.

Thanks for the link to the PIPA survey. While I thank you for adding the comment that correlation does not equal causation, I’ve read through the report and find it less than compelling for several reasons.

First, as a general rule, if I can sense the agenda in a survey analysis easily (whether right or left), then I am always cautious of interpreting the results too strongly. I get the sense in analysis of some answers that the analysts have a definite “democratic” or “leftward” bias. They seem to immediately interpret uncertainties in the data in ways that reflect a progressive point of view and often ignore opinions that may fit the ambiguities as well, but come from a more conservative viewpoint.

I also notice that the standard for whether a respondent is “misinformed” is often based on whether their response is the same as the Congressional Budget Office, the Department of Congress, or the National Academy of Sciences; as if these government offices are somehow unquestionable authoritative opinion sources (with no political component, by the way) and are completed correlated with the “ MOST economists/scientists” language used in the questions.

Additionally, the analysis seems to ignore that many people might give responses that feel more true to them through their experience than what “experts” might say. For example, if someone has lost a job or knows folks who did, they would more likely say the economy is worse off – and that experts are saying the economy is worse off - than experts actually say. In other words, they’ll famously “believe their own lying eyes” and impute these opinions to others.

Given the above, I have difficulty taking much of what the survey implies too seriously.

One item I did find hilarious was that in several cases the least educated group of responders held opinion’s closest to that of the “experts”. This may tell us more about the opinions of “experts” than it does about whether a particular network misinforms the public. ;-)

I knew the PIPA survey was dopey when I saw they were using CBO scoring of the health care bill even though the CBO was obliged to use highly unrealistic assumptions, including the assumption that Congress would, for the first time in memory, fail to adjust the unacceptably low statutory limits on payments to doctors. (And sure enough, shortly after the health care bill passed, Congress did pass another doc fix.) The problems with CBO's assumptions have been documented by the Republican Policy Committee, McClatchy and others. No doubt PIPA's credulousness on this issue is the sort of thing that makes scholars in health policy research weep.

Tom McGuire has addressed other respects in which PIPA misses the boat about what is and is not a misperception.

Of course, if the things PIPA says are misperceptions are actually not, then its findings are meaningless. GIGO.

Not only is PIPA wrong about what is a misconception, they chose questions tilted toward the Democrats IMHO.

Take the question about the stimulus and the number of jobs gained or lost. PIPA asked about what "most economists who have studied the stimulus estimate." What a strange question. News shows don't routinely report on the views of "most economists who have studied the stimulus". How would PIPA expect anyone to know the answer?

A straightforward, totally fact-based based question would have been: "How many jobs have been gained or lost since passage of the stimulus?" That's the natural question to ask. Why didn't PIPA ask that question? I think it's becauase the answer would have made the Dems look bad.

Here's another debunking of that flawed Misperceptions report.

Here's an excerpt:

"The researchers found that 75 percent of those surveyed...think Obamacare will actually increase the deficit. How could that be?

"The answer is they were allegedly misled by Fox News...

"But maybe something else was going on. Perhaps the voters knew the CBO based its estimate on dubious assumptions -- say, the likelihood of funding Obamacare by cutting $500 billion from Medicare -- forced on it by Congress. Or perhaps voters knew that the top actuary of Medicare and Medicaid disagreed with the CBO. Or perhaps the "misinformed" voters held the commonsense belief that you cannot cover 32 million previously uncovered people and save money at the same time."

It's surprisingly difficult to get a figure for net jobs gained or lost. Readers here might see if they know:

To the nearest million, how many jobs have been gained or lost since passage of the stimulus?

+3 million
+2 million
+1 million
-1 million
-2 million
-3 million

Here's another explanation of why it's reasonable to call Obamacare a "takeover".

ISTM there's a trick being played regarding the "takeover" and the stimulus supposedly creating millions of jobs. The trick goes like this:

First call some liberal orthodoxy a "fact." Then, when Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and other outlets don't follow liberal orthodoxy, brand them as liars.

In reality, FNC's willingness to deviate from liberal orthodoxy is a strength, not a flaw. And, more and more people are on to this trick. That's why FNC's viewership keeps rising.

Here's a WSJ editorial making a point similar to my last post.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703886904576031630593433102.html

It concludes:

As long as the press corps is nominating "lies of the year," ours goes to the formal legislative title of ObamaCare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. For a bill that in reality will raise health costs and reduce patient choice, the name recalls Mary McCarthy's famous line about every word being a lie, including "the" and "and."

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