Econospinning

by on August 9, 2006 at 7:23 am in Books | Permalink

Econospinning: How to Read Between the Lines When the Media Manipulate the Numbers, by Gene Epstein, economics editor at Barron’s.

Imagine lengthy polemics against the use of numbers in the work of Paul Krugman (most of all), the Op-Ed page of The Wall Street Journal, Brad DeLong, Steve Levitt, and Barbara Ehrenreich, among others.  Except the vehicle isn’t the blogosphere, it is a book!

This one is guaranteed to ruffle feathers.  Here is the book’s home page.

Frank August 9, 2006 at 3:13 pm

Has anyone read the book yet or seen a review?

Steve Sailer August 9, 2006 at 8:38 pm

Having been pointing out since 1999 the obvious flaws in Steven D. Levitt’s celebrated abortion-cut-crime theory (e.g., the teen murder rate among the first cohort born after legalization was almost triple that of the last cohort born before legalization), I’m glad to see another author joining the ranks of debunkers.

In the academic journals, Levitt’s theory has been taking a severe beating in the last couple of years, but the mainstream press has been mostly extremely credulous.

By the way, there’s also a highly lucid 7 page summary of the case against the Levitt theory in Ramesh Ponnuru’s recent book, “Party of Death.”

joan August 9, 2006 at 8:57 pm

Steve Sailer – this is a question not meant to be argumentative. What birth years define the cohorts? In the first cohort what was the abortion rate compared to the one before and after? Is the seven pages available any where on the web?

Steve Sailer August 10, 2006 at 4:45 am

Here’s the 1999 Slate.com debate between Levitt and myself, which has held up well:

http://www.slate.com/id/33569/entry/33571/

Here’s the spring 2005 article I wrote on “Freakonomics:”

http://www.amconmag.com/2005_05_09/feature.html

And here’s a late 2005 summary by me after Levitt was humiliated by the revelation by economists Foote and Goetz that his theory was based on two technical mistakes he made:

http://www.isteve.com/Freakonomics_Fiasco.htm

And if you just can’t get enough, here’s the exhaustive compendium of all my iSteve.com blog entries on the abortion-cut-crime theory:

http://www.isteve.com/abortion.htm

There’s lots of good stuff in it, but it’s not organized in any particular way, so I’d reserve it for the hard-core.

David Zetland August 21, 2006 at 12:01 pm

I just finished the book. It is indeed for those who want to spend 50-100 pages on different measures of employment (and how they are abused — especially by Krugman, who comes out looking partisan, which will surprise few). It’s good to see Epstein attack (he uses that word) the faulty analysis of the top sources (Krugman, Levitt, The Economist, WSJ), but I felt sometimes that he was spending more time attacking than showing what the alternative scenario would look like (eg, Levitt’s work on abortion and real estate agents). Of course, this book is a critique and others are supposed to jump in with alternatives, but I can see how average readers who are not going to go and recalculate would want to know the alternative explanation/reality. He *does* take a good shot at Greenspan’s halo — with effect — but fails to mention that Greenspan’s greatest achievement was not his ability to get things right, but that people believed he did get things right. He missed the importance of “castles in the sky” beliefs that people hold…

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