This one is a real blooper and I cannot let it pass by

I don’t usually “go after” news stories and headlines but this one is such a bad mistake, and it so affected my Twitter feed (I was swindled too), that it deserves comment (the pointer by the way comes from Alex, our Alex).  Stephanie Saul wrote in The New York Times:

Nearly 40 percent of colleges are reporting overall declines in applications from international students, according to a survey

Here is what the opening of the survey itself said:

39% of responding institutions reported a decline in international applications, 35% reported an increase, and 26% reported no change in applicant numbers.

The NYT article does not reproduce the more positive pieces of information, from its own cited study, which may be suggesting international applications are not down at all, or perhaps down by only a small amount.  If you look at all the data, they probably are down, but by no conceivable stretch of the imagination should the 40% figure be reported without the other numbers.  The headline of the piece?:

Amid ‘Trump Effect’ Fear, 40% of Colleges See Dip in Foreign Applicants

I look forward to not only a correction but in fact a retraction of the entire article and its headline.


Tyler - journalists do not "report." They narrate.

Especially the headline writers.

In a rapid fire global media no one is willing to slow down, no one can be right all the time.

Tyler is correct that the test becomes "what do you do when you discover you are wrong?" If you admit it quickly, and reposition to "new facts" I think you are good. Tyler does the right thing above. And so should the Times.

Also, number of institutions is a terrible measure, also lacking the trend. What would a graph of foreign students, 1950 to present look like? I found data to 2013, big increases:

"In a rapid fire global media no one is willing to slow down, no one can be right all the time."

This wasn't a case of being wrong. The actual facts could easily be discerned from the article. The article itself was written in a way to make a spurious connection to Trump, and to indicate a drop in enrollments, when a close reading of the text indicated that enrollment was relatively static.

You are correct that some first author skewed things. I am speaking more of the game of telephone that followed.

That's where social media, and chained mainstream articles, need some correction mechanism.

The "game of telephone that followed" was the whole point of the exercise; the headline; story, survey, and all, was intended to give low information news consumers something to tweet, re-tweet and get outraged over. See also, the "cuts to meal on wheels" headline and story, the "EPA website scrubbing" headline and story, the "college rape" headline, story and "study", the "Black lives matter" movement, etc. All of these memes and others only work as narratives if you avoid the details.

You need to consciously try to avoid the details to make these things work at all.

As I say, I think the people who can correct themselves come out fine. There are other problems, obviously. People who can't correct themselves are one. But so too is the whole "we got one!" game.

"We got one," so we can deny whole regions of discourse. "We got one at the New York Times, and so we can deny every other article by every other author and editor at the New York Times." I see that played quite a bit below.

I don't play that. I can link Fox News or Breitbart articles which I think are pretty fair. I read them first, to find out ;-)

"“We got one,” so we can deny whole regions of discourse. “We got one at the New York Times, and so we can deny every other article by every other author and editor at the New York Times.” I see that played quite a bit below."

That's been a game played by both sides for years. I wouldn't say that NYT's is worse than Fox News, but I don't find it much better either. I assume the NYT's will bias Left and Fox News will bias Right. Tyler Cowen was shocked, because he assumed that NYT's biased towards Truth. And he quoted them and realized he'd been suckered by a partisan piece.

I have found that the NYT's has declined in quality. This is not a new story, it's just reached a point, where people that would have instinctively "trusted" the NYT's subjectivity are being confronted with highly subjective analysis.

We agree, and I think one of Tyler's pieces of advice was not to look at the worst argument your opponents have to offer, but to look at the best, and answer that one. As far as where outlets sit on a right-left basis right now, I thought this was good. Perhaps someone can read it and find an error:

A Major New Study Shows That Political Polarization Is Mainly A Right-Wing Phenomenon

The last time I posted that someone said "WGBH!" which of course is not the way to approach it.

WGBH meaning what?

What is the actual study? Does it exist? Does anyone know what a "candidate-focused partisanship score" is or how it was calculated?

Answers at the link!

JWatts you have it exactly right. Tyler's apparent belief that this was just an otherwise honest journalistic "mistake" in reporting facts ignores the source publication and its consistent recent history. There's "fake news" and really evil fake news

How do you classify this, Ed? After a year of Fact Checks, Trump still hasn't educated himself on "the uranium deal."

As I say, people can be wrong, but the key question is whether they ever correct. Or if they stick with the lie to enhance your position. They say the President tells "blue lies" for that second purpose.

"This wasn’t a case of being wrong"

You're wrong.

"The actual facts could easily be discerned from the article."

No, you know that's not the case, that only by ignoring the headline, ignoring all the references to Trump in first few inches, and factoring in all the qualifiers, i.e. a "close reading, does one have a glimpse of what the facts might be.

"a close reading of the text"

Classic propaganda technique. Imply falsely with a headline, insinuate more, yet via 'close reading' stay within range of the truth to avoid slander charges and retractions. The situation is bad enough with you falsely defending it as innocent.

Indeed. Good point.

I think you'd find a lot more "bloopers" in the NYT if you read it with a more critical eye. Here's another "blooper" which is far more damning of the Times' entire worldview:

Isn't retraction supposed to be an indication of quality, not the opposite?

Let us know if they stay mum or do the same as what TC suggests.

"Isn't retraction supposed to be an indication of quality, not the opposite?"

Not in this case. The underlying article was an op-ed arguing that the Trump Administration has a penchant for suppressing the truth for political purposes. In support of that argument, the author asserted a particular "fact" which was not actually a fact (in fact, it was absolutely and completely wrong) thus demonstrating the NYT's penchant for suppressing the truth for political purposes. All would be SOP, but the Time's "retraction" only went to one of the two supporting facts and the other was just as false. Nevertheless, the story (and the narrative) remained, like the smile on the Cheshire cat, even after one of the two supporting facts had to be retracted as false and the other, just as factually false, remained.

So one op ed got two facts wrong but retracted one and failed to retract the other.

I'm not reading the underlying links since I don't want to waste my monthly ration of free NYT articles. Assuming you are right about the un-retracted false fact, that produces a 50% chance of self-correction of false facts.

How many retractions has Breitbart done?

At least twice - 'Breitbart wrote a frontpage story Monday accusing the founder of fellow conservative website The Washington Free Beacon of making comments that were actually made by someone else entirely.

‘Free Beacon’ Founder: Trump is the Politics of ‘Fear, Paranoia, Nativism’ read the original Breitbart headline. The piece (which once again lacks a byline) blurbed a BBC op-ed by Michael Goldfarb, in which Goldfarb accused Donald Trump of using fear and paranoia to gain voters. On a website whose authors and audience skew pro-Trump, pointing out the comments was clearly not intended to be laudatory.

But if they had scrolled to the bottom, Breitbart would have realized the op-ed was written by a completely different Michael Goldfarb. This Michael Goldfarb is a former NPR broadcaster and “the author of Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto led to Revolution and Renaissance.” The Free Beacon’s Goldfarb is not.

On Twitter, Free Beacon editor and co-founder Matt Continetti called out Breitbart and asked for a retraction.

Two hours after Continetti pointed out the mistake, Brietbart appended a correction: “A previous version of this story misidentified the subject of the article, Michael Goldfarb, as the founder of the Washington Free Beacon. The Free Beacon was founded by a different Michael Goldfarb. Breitbart News regrets the error.”

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because this exact scenario has played out before. Breitbart issued a retraction in 2014 after they wrote a story trashing Obama Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch for her connection to the Whitewater scandal, not realizing it was a different Loretta Lynch who represented the Clintons.'

Of course, they were forced to do it, because if they had left the inaccurate attribution stand after notification, something along the lines of a defamation judgment against Breitbart would have been a slam dunk.

I'll go on a limb and suggest that many people, including everyone at the Times and many righties, hold the failing NY Times to something higher than the Breitbart, uhh, "standard".

Ahhh but what's the retraction *rate*? How many facts are wrong versus how many get formally retracted and corrected? At least for the article in question the NYT achieved at least 50% assuming bmcburney is correct that the un-retracted fact was also wrong.


1. The underlying link goes to Powerline, which does not ration.

2. Come up with your own Breitbart examples and we may be able to generalize the criticism to both NYT and Breitbart but don't expect me to read Breitbart for you.

3. The point here is that the headline, analysis and conclusion were left unaltered even though the evidence was entirely false and partially withdrawn. Our host looks forward (I fear in vain) for "a retraction of the entire article and its headline." Sadly, NYT don't play that way. I don't know about Breitbart but, as far as I know, they don't ration either.

Wow, this is very much like what Scott A. talks about here:

Liberals are liars, film at 11.

What I think interesting about both Scott A's comment thread and this one is just how many people will try to justify the obvious error. Some of the contortions are amazing. It's really hard for me to understand people like that, I am almost forced to think of them as mentally ill.

Agree with Doc and Chris. Silver lining: 'logic and reason optional' folks are helpful in quickly identifying themselves as not having worthy input.

A blooper is when the outfielder tries to catch ball but drops it. The NYT story was not a "blooper" but a deliberate lie.

The funny thing is, telling the story well might even support their position. If last year 99% of colleges reported an increase in foreign apps from the previous year, and this year only 35%, do, that's a definite drop from trend. Without the trend, the number by itself isn't worth much.

But journalists are both biased *and* stupid.

How exactly was it a deliberate lie?

It's a fair criticism that they should have reported full results, but calling the reprot a deliberate lie is unjustified.

Under the circumstances, it is very unlikely that the NYT could have known about the "nearly 40%" number without also knowing the other numbers. Arguably not a lie per se, because "nearly 40%" is true, but the headline and story is deliberately misleading. There is no doubt that the NYT intended readers to draw incorrect conclusion from the information they presented.

The story is not as misleading as all that, since it does mention schools that have seen increases. Besides, reporting that 40% have seen a decline also says that 60% haven't. And we can add that the complaints seem to be about the headline, which is not written by the reporter or the editors.

Again, I think the story is dumb, because the metric discussed is pointless, but I think the reaction here is a bit much.

The headline and story is intentionally misleading because the number showing an actual increase in applications is almost as large as the "nearly 40%" which show a decrease. This information is not available in the story but MUST have been available to the reporter and, presumably, the editors as well. The relevant point is NOT merely that 60% have not shown a decrease. In fact, that number too is misleading when more than half of the 60% are actually reporting an increase in applications.

Also, the story may be dumb but the metric selected by study is not so much "pointless' as it is suspiciously inapt. Anyone performing a study to see if "Trump fear" is driving international student applications down would surely collect information about the total number of such applications. Given the failure to report that number, I confidently predict that the number did not fit the intended narrative.

"The story is not as misleading as all that"

Of course it is. Don't fall for the propaganda two-step, old as stone tablets, with a grotesquely misleading headline and lead paragraphs serving as read meat for the faithful, and falling back on a stream of down story qualifiers that barely keep the article, closely read, within range of the facts. The latter serves as a defense against slander charges and retractions, while the smear stands.

There is nothing in this story or the related study that in anyway ties a single physical fact to Trump policies.

The NYT cherry picking data to support a narrative? No way no how. Keep looking forward.

"I look forward to not only a correction but in fact a retraction of the entire article and its headline."

Good luck with that. NYT corrections are done in a such an inconspicuous manner that they may as well not exist at all.

This raises another question. Why are respected academics and bloggers so reluctant to hold the mainstream media to task? Like really? This is the first time you noticed the NYT just blatantly misrepresenting facts?

“I look forward to not only a correction but in fact a retraction of the entire article and its headline.”

LOL, that's a good one Professor Cowen.

In my limited experience, a newspaper per won't retract any statement that can be defended as literally true, regardless how misleading the statement is.

To be fair, the NYT is a source of news to the same extent that Rush Limbaugh is.

Give Tyler credit for daring to call them out when they lie.

No, Other Jim, they are far better. That is why Tyler and others should call them out when mess up. With Fox News and the execrable Rush, they are so bad it is not worth bothering complaining about their nearly daily violations of the truth.

Jim, I met you once and you seemed like a reasonable person. So, I ask you: do you believe in objective facts? Serious question. Really. Show me that you are worthy of me or anybody else respecting you. Do you accept that there are objective facts and are you willing to take them seriously from whatever source? I am.


I was shocked that at Harvard, professors take the NYTimes as their main source of news. The NYTimes knows how many of the elite read it unthinkingly, and succumbs to the obvious temptation to lie.
I wonder if this is common? There is a tradeoff between influencing your "captive" audience more (those who read nothing else and suppress all their logical doubts) and influencing your "moveable" audience who stop reading or trust you less if they catch you lying. It should be noted that much of the "captive" audience is composed of willing captives, who rely on you all the more if you confirm their desired beliefs, a bit like professors who are happy with data-forging research assistants.

Academia hath no fury like a professor tricked into looking like a moron by trusting the media through his own partisan bias. Chin up, professor, happens to all of us until we learn. I, for instance, learned when I was sixteen. In my defense, I had lived overseas until then, and hadn't had much contact with the american media. Maybe it's one of those "out of the mouths of babes" things. It's hard to see the flaws in the power structure when you sit securely within it.

I don't know what country you come from, but in my country of birth, mainstream media are much much worse (in term of false news, ultra-oriented analysis presented as neutral, biased "fact-checking", etc) than in the US. And they have always been, for as long as I can remember. Look for instance, if you read French, to -- basically every other article is bullshit, but just open one article of "les decodeurs" to be sure to fins something very bad.

And I agree with every bit of criticism of the NYT I have read on this blog and comments.

He probably didn't pay any attention to the quality of the local papers when he was young. Not many do.

Just to illustrate my point, there was a paper in Le Monde on the subject too weeks ago.

Title is "Aux États-Unis, le déclin des candidatures d'étudiants étranges", that is
roughly "in the US, decline of foreign students applications".

Subtitle (that you see only if you click):
"L’élection de Donald Trump et la fermeture des frontières se font déjà sentir: 39 % des universités américaines font état d’une baisse des demandes d’inscriptions d’étudiants internationaux." That is "Trump's election and the closure of borders are already been felt: 39% of the american universities say they have less application from international students."

As you can see, it is even more explicitly wrong than the NYT. As some rightly noticed here, the NYT headline is not strictly false, just misleading. The headline of Lemonde is false. And for the subtitle, Le Monde seems to know exactly what caused the decline in the number of application. It is always like that. NYT's partiality would seem to any one light-handed and subtle after reading Le Monde or other French newspapers...

On one hand France is much further along the road of you switch your facts when you switch your politics than the US.

On the other hand though, I don't think France has ever really had any concept of objective media in the first place. Presse de reference does not mean paper of record, so it is not like Le Monde et al have really gotten any worse. Of the big three, Le Monde is by far the closest to this idea, but hardly taken seriously by readers of Liberation or Le Figaro, let alone l'Humanite.

Actually, I grew up in Russia. I knew the media were slavish lapdogs of the ruling class (and party). Everyone did. I, however, harbored the hilariously naive idea that the so-called "free press" in a free nation would be different. I could not have been more wrong. Pravda and friends occasionally had to print something to make it look good. The US media feels no compulsion to legitimize their propaganda by throwing out a decent article once in a while. They are all in, all the time.

Whereas once the NYT was mainly dreary, now it's dreary and conspicuously dishonest. On this topic the absurd Mr Trump is right and the odious Swamp is wrong.

The NYT cherry-picks their data to support their biased narrative?! I'm so very shocked.

You'll find stuff like this all the time in the NYT. It's news the other way round: In which articles do they not cherry-pick?

And what's the difference to fake news again?

Nothing new here.

This article from Sept. 2016 says "hate crimes against American Muslims have soared to their highest levels since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks," due in part to "divisive language on the campaign trail."

But the numbers are for the 2015 year. Then they attribute it to Trump's language about a Muslim ban, even linking to an article from... December 2015. Not sure how comments in December fuel hate through the previous 11 months.

I do not see any reason for NYT to apologize on this one. I just checked data, and the latest numbers are that since 9/11 there have been 33 Americans killed by Muslim terrorists versus 48 killed by white supremacists. Of course, there have been something on the order of 180,000 others killed, but, hey, we need our gun freedom to protect us from getting killed, right?

Yes, 9/11 was a much larger number, but that was a full-out attack from abroad by a foreign group, although some of its members had managed to be in the US for a short period of time prior to the attack. This was most certainly not any home-grown terrorism, whereas those white supremacists most certainly are.

Ah Barkley, first time long time. Of course you don't see a reason for the NYT to apologize, you didn't even read @Oh's comment. You managed to twist his post about the Times attributing the surge in hate crimes against Muslims that occurred prior to Trump's words on the campaign trail to gun violence in general and post 9/11 anti-Muslim violence. Even for you, this is a remarkable dearth of comprehension. Try reading @Oh's comment again, and see if you can piece together how irrelevant your comment is.

" I just checked data, and the latest numbers are that since 9/11 there have been 33 Americans killed by Muslim terrorists"

No you didn't. More than 33 were killed in the Pulse Nightclub shooting alone.

I'm sure that Professor Rosser was highly selective in checking his data set in order to assure that the results met his expectations.

And that is exactly why Barkley Rosser didn't include a link or a citation.

"Muslim terrorists" is a thing and is tracked. What does "white supremacists" even mean in this context.

Dylan Roof, I guess.

Excluding 9/11 from the info set reminds me of econometric papers that exclude the 2008 recession from their data.

As long as you exclude those massive fat tailed black swan events, things aren't so bad! Just come up with some lazy rationalization for why we shouldn't count them as part of the true data generating process, and you're good to go!

More checking findss that since 9/11 there have been 254 killed by "right-wing extremists," not necessarily the same set as "white supremacists. That easily beats those killed by Muslim extremists. But then Trump has ordered our counter-terrorism unit to stop worrying about those and focus only on those darned Muslims.

Sure, NatashaRostova, 9/11 much worse. But these were not immigrants or citizens. This was an attack by a foreign group, and, duh, we have gone after that group, with one of our presidents, not Bush who promised to get him, and certainly not Trump, even got their leader killed. They are now a much reduced threat, although still out there.

BTW, I already pointed this out, so you can get off your pompous high horse, govno.

The attackers were in the country training for months, on visas. So of course it's relevant to immigration.


You old fibber, where did you get that number? The New America Foundation has only 51 killed by right wing terrorists since 9/11 and they count every death remotely related to some form of non-left ideology as right wing to get that number. They even count the Austin suicide plane crash guy, Joe Stack, as a right winger. Joe was such a right winger that he closed his (rambling, incoherent) suicide note/manifesto with an anti-capitalist and pro-communist diatribe.

BTW, dorogaya, NR, but you are wrong. 9/11 was a gray swan, not a black one. A black one is an unforcasted and unforecasteable event. But 9/11 was laid out by the best selling novelist, Tom Clancy in "Debt of Honor" in which an angry Japanese flies a plane into the US Capitol building during a State of the Union message, taking out the whole top level of the US government. When 9/11 happened, Clancy made a loud public stink about the matter, and indeed there were parts of the US intel establishment that had studied such a problem, and indeed they took a report to then Pres. Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, worrying about just such a possibility with possible Arab terrorists training in US airfields, and so on, to which Bush famously replied, "OK, you have now covered your ass."

So, sorry, doragaya NR. A grey swan is a rare event that can be forecasted, and 9/11 was forecasted. Not a cherny swan. Sorry about that.

Of course, if you decide to tally that from Sept. 10, 2001 - just one day previously - the score would stand at 3,029 to 48. Just to be clear.

And if you completely ignore the Medieval Warm Period, global temperatures have been monotonically increasing 4-evah!!

Sorry, "Other Jim," but the scientific evidence for current global warming is overwhelming. Hey, there was a time when the whole planet was boiling and another time that it was almost a complete iceball. Are you some pal of Sen. Inhofe who thinks that if there is a big snowstorm in DC that allows you to walk into the Senate with a snowball that disproves global warming?

BTW, "Other Jim." Maybe I am mistaken, but the person I met, whom I think is you, appeared to be a reasonable and more or less intelligent and well-informed person. You, however, seem to be none of the above..

Where did you get your numbers from? I've seen many different variations, but I'm never certain whom to trust.

Is the number of deaths the most relevant metric for measuring the effect of Islamic terror?

Western countries are spending enormous resources to prevent attacks. We shuffle through airport checks with shoes in hand while every phone call and mouse click is surveilled by increasingly intrusive state security.

A couple weeks ago a mall in Essen, Germany, was closed due to concerns about an attack. Who measures the cost of this little-noticed incident where a few hundred retailers lose thousands in revenue and the level of social trust continues to erode?

The low death rate is not - as Rosser suggests -evidence of little threat, but an indication of how much Western nations have sacrificed to remain safe.

The summary (Tabarrok's post has the link) isn't a model of clarity: are the n's in the graphs the absolute number of applications? I don't think so. Wouldn't it be helpful to include the absolute number?

The full report is due Mar 30th ; I think it will show a significant dip overall. percentages are misleading when its not clear what the overall absolute numbers are.
In India for example the recent tragedies have had an effect on those wishing to apply.

yes I agree. Just publish whatever you think is probably true. If it turns out to be true - see! If not, well it's old news by now, onwards and upwards.

Imagine if the daily news never reported anything until the government had put its final stamp of approval on the final draft of something.

Better to accept that mistakes will be made and facilitate retractions, corrections, etc.

Great point, asshole.

Aka, imagine the worst possible interpretation... which also is not relevant. Thanks!

The option to stick one's head in the sand also exists.

The option to admit that you are full of it also exists

It baffles me why, at this late date, Marginal Revolution continues to expect professionalism from the New York Times. Did you miss this recent explanation from one of their long-time editors?

Their search for "narrative" over truth is a feature, not a bug.

That headline, which one can safely assume was not written by the reporter, is fairly accurate in terms of the number - 'Amid ‘Trump Effect’ Fear, 40% of Colleges See Dip in Foreign Applicants' - unless one wants to quibble about the rounding based on the source text - '39% of responding institutions reported a decline in international applications.'

Though the article may be inaccurate, and the putative causation of a 'Trump effect' is clearly editorializing of a fairly banal variety (with the quotes distancing the reporter and paper, at least in theory), there is absolutely no reason to retract the headline as written based on a proven inaccuracy, regardless of what some headline skimming person may think.

Maybe additional careful reading is still in order?

I agree.

"Amid ‘Trump Effect’ Fear, 40% of Colleges See Dip in Foreign Applicants"

Implies 60% didn't.

Why the retraction of the headline?

careful reading is fine. deliberately misleading your readers isn't.

Seriously!?! It would be one thing if 39% reported a decrease and the remainder reported no change, but in fact...35% reported an *increase*. Which means the number of schools reporting increases and decreases nearly balanced out. Which makes the 'sky is falling because of Trump' presentation highly dishonest and misleading. But, I'll give you credit for being smart enough to know that -- so why on earth are you defending them?

This is a great thread. It proves what dedicated enemies decency has.

Which means the number of schools reporting increases and decreases nearly balanced out.

Which tells us nothing about whether there has been an overall increase or decrease, and what the size of the change is.

'Which makes the ‘sky is falling because of Trump’ presentation highly dishonest and misleading.'

Or utterly banal editorializing, as one commenter seems to have remarked that this is actually an op-ed piece. Op-eds tend to include those that could be categorized as 'sky is falling because of X.'

'But, I’ll give you credit for being smart enough to know that — so why on earth are you defending them?'

I don't defend the NYT, I don't even bother to read what is undoubtedly one of the worst papers on sale in the world (why yes, the destruction of the IHT is still something that causes a sense of abiding disgust). Much like never understanding Reagan's apparent charisma, I have never understood why anyone takes the NYT seriously, and think the world would be a much better place if the entire organization was to call it a wrap and then disappear.

That said (and my disdain for the NYT has been noted here before - besides, I cannot be bothered to deal with their moronic paywall), I still find the headline to be accurate as to the quoted number, and as hard as it might be to imagine, lots of people I know personally in Germany, including one mother of a college student, want nothing to do with Trump's America (her daughter will not be studying in the U.S., by the way). From outside the U.S., leaving aside the actual article, it is extremely easy to see how Trump's election has changed the perception that many non-Americans have of the U.S.

Luckily, I don't need to read a worthless rag like the NYT to know that.

I agree that the New York Times cherry-picked the data for the headline -- although the article does discuss increases as well as decreases. There are, however, some extenuating circumstances:
For the past 10 years, at least, colleges and universities have seen continuous growth in their international application pools, largely from China and India. The institutions reporting an increase may well be seeing business as usual; those reporting a decrease are seeing something dramatically different from what they had been forecasting.

Also, applications for the more selective schools were due before Trump's first immigration ban and the couple of high-profiles murders and shooting of Indian nationals. I know schools that are quite concerned about their yield -- they

If there really is an inflection in the number of foreign applicants this year,
perhaps it is the effect "hysterical crybabies" rather than the "Trump effect" per se which is the cause, because "hysterical crybabies" is really the images the US academics (globally of course there are many exceptions) have given of themselves since the result of the last presidential election.

Meanwhile, for what it is worth, I am in charge of the admission of graduate students (PhDs and masters) in my department, and I didn't notice any decrease in good foreign applications, on the contrary.

I don't understand the outrage. In an increasingly globalized world I'd expect the default to be increased international applications to be at 100% of colleges (or at least no decrease). Maybe its not newsworthy, but its not inaccurate.

I don't think you're getting the point, I'd reread the post. From a previous commenter Slocum..."Seriously!?! It would be one thing if 39% reported a decrease and the remainder reported no change, but in fact…35% reported an *increase*. Which means the number of schools reporting increases and decreases nearly balanced out. Which makes the ‘sky is falling because of Trump’ presentation highly dishonest and misleading".

I don't get the point, because its a point you've manufactured. Many things are newsworthy because they "balance out", aka stop increasing. If 40% of companies see a net decrease in employment, surely that would be newsworthy, even if 35% percent of employers "balance out" by increasing. In a healthy economy you'd expect very few companies to lose employees. Is the same dynamic true about college applications? To some perhaps not, but its a factually true statement that others do see as newsworthy

I'm not sure what to tell you if you don't see the problem with a story claiming that a 40% of companies decreasing employment is due to some politician you don't agree with's economic policies while not mentioning that it is largely balanced out by companies increasing employment so really those policies have nothing to do with anything at least with the evidence given. Who knows if 40% is the normal amount that report a decrease, we don't because the article doesn't mention it and only wants to paint its own picture, but I'm sure that's fine for you and we're all just manufacturing criticism.

Thinking about this howler, keep in mind two words: Gell-Mann amnesia.

That's not exactly relevant in this case. There's enough data in the article to indicate that he author understood the facts. It seems more likely that she chose to craft a narrative.

I also recall that on Twitter the headline was presented even more egregiously as "U.S. colleges see 40% decline in applications from international students," or something to that effect. I remember seeing the headline and not believing it.

The retraction should should be a full article, headline, "WE ARE FULL OF SHIT"

He could be a closet Lutheran for all we know.

He hasn't released his long-form birth certificate or college manuscripts, so basically this is evidence that he's foreign born and got all Ds and Cs in uni.

Same fake news appeared earlier at Inside Higher Education (March 13 versus March 16 at NYT).

Will International Students Stay Away?
Four in 10 colleges are seeing drops in applications from international students amid pervasive concerns that the political climate might keep them away.
By Elizabeth Redden March 13, 2017

But there the third paragraph shows that the headline is bullshit:

"Thirty-nine percent of institutions responding to the survey reported a decline in their total number of international applications across both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Another 35 percent reported an increase, and 26 percent reported no change."

Yes, the NYT certainly was highly misleading on this matter, and they have also been so from time to time in the past. I am not sure if their rate of messing up has increased recently, but that is also possible as the general quality of all newspapers has been declining for quite a few years now.

OTOH, I note that just between 1/20 and 2/24 Donald Trump was recorded as making 143 false public statements. All of you expectorating over this misleading headline in the NYT, have you commented at all on Trump's massive and repeated lying? Or is it just old (but not fake) news that is just too boring?

Not to mention that a lot of his lies are "blue lies" that make his followers (including some of you) feel good about themselves. How many of you are feeling good about DJT's repeated massive lying?

You're a fascinating person, is there a dark blue lens over your mind's eye? Are you able to see anything but from the perspective of a partisan hack? No one is talking about Trump's credibility except you, and you've managed to turn the conversation (in your mind, and only your mind) into one about the standards for a venerable publication that touts itself as some sort of purveyor of the unadulterated truth and vs our president who has worse credibility than Moody's. By dragging the NYT into the political fray, you're implicitly acknowledging that it ought to be read with as much salt as the president's tweets. Well done.

Well, Gabe, the vast majority of Trump's lies end up getting quoted without question on several media outlets. I do not see anybody complaining about them.

But, oh yes, the problem is this misleading headline in NYT, not good, but they are mostly on the money. But, hey, we have more important things to worry about, such as locking Hillary up for her terrible emails, or maybe for Benghazi. I mean we had 8 congressional hearings on that one costing millions of dollars, and I lost count of the amount of time Fox News spent hyperventilating over that.

No one is talking about Trump’s credibility except you,

Well, no one here is, which I think has something to do with Barkley's point.

Barkley's point is a classic tu quoque fallacy.

I'm opposed to both Trump's and the NYT's misleading narratives. Trump's misbehavior doesn't in anyway excuse the NYT's misbehavior.

It would be tu quoque if he accused Tyler of lying. He didn't.

Pointing out selective outrage - people straining at the NYT's gnats and swallowing Trump's camels - is reasonable, especially given the froth level here.

Berkley's point is the shocking, appalling observation that politicians lie. Well duh.

No one's talking about it because it's taken as a given by intelligent and thoughtful adults. The only people who are still incredulous are sore babies like Barkley who were left standing in the Javitz Center on November 9th. I don't see any commenters defending Trump on this blog, hence Jwatts correct characterization of Barley's tu quoque points. And no one is talking about Trump's credibility here because (besides the fact that its poor quality is as universally accepted as the existence of gravity) is that it has nothing to do with Tyler's post! No one is talking about how terrible of an owner Dolan is, so I'm going to tie it in to every comment I make because I'm a sore Knicks fan. Just because Trump is president and incredible does not mean every incredible comment has to be compared to his lies. Does that make sense dummy?

There's an absolute frenzy of media outlets trying to one up each other calling every statement Trump makes a lie, outright in their headlines. Even when it's not a lie, or at most an exaggeration. E.g. "Trump lies about Sweden having an immigration problem!" "Trump lies about being surveilled in Trump tower!" etc. Trump lies, a bunch of huge media outlets lie about him lying. The whole thing is disgusting.

Cliff, deliberately exaggerating is also known as lying.

What-about-ism at its finest.

President are supposed to be partisan. The alleged finest newspaper of record is supposed to (attempt to) offer us the facts.

What turned me into a skeptical centrist is that the NYT and other sources I trusted for years to be somewhat above the partisan fray; instead the NYT is a veritable cog in the Democratic Party machinery.

This is an example of one of the "falsehoods" claimed by the article you base this on:

"The claim: “And the New York Times and CNN and all of them, they did these polls, which were extremely bad and they turned out to be totally wrong.”

In fact: The final New York Times poll was precisely correct: it had Hillary Clinton winning the national popular vote by 3 per cent; she ended up winning by 3 per cent. CNN’s final poll had her up 5 per cent, still within the margin of error."

In actually, Clinton won by 2.1 points, but notice she lost the election, it's the state polls that matter, and there, they definitely messed up, most notably in Wisconsin, where every single poll conducted had Clinton ahead.

Here's another example:

"The claim about his source for his allegation that President Barack Obama had wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower: “Well, I’ve been reading about things. I read in, I think it was January 20, a New York Times article where they were talking about wiretapping. There was an article, I think they used that exact term.” Added: “Well, because The New York Times wrote about it.”

In fact: This claim contains a kernel of truth, but it is so misleading that it is largely false. The Times article did use the word “wiretapped,” but it did not mention Obama, and it did not mention Trump Tower. Rather, it said only that U.S. authorities were examining intercepted communications related to Trump associates’ possible ties with Russian officials; it suggested that there had been wiretaps of foreign officials, not Americans."

And if you listen to Bob and Alice's conversation, you aren't really spying on Bob, only Alice had her phone tapped!

Another one:

"The claim: “I’ve already authorized the construction of the long-stalled and delayed Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines. “

In fact: Trump’s executive order merely invited TransCanada Corp. to apply again to get the Keystone pipeline approved. He has not granted final approval."

He never said he gave final approval, only that he gave authorization, which is true.

Most of the claims are similar, opinions masquerading as facts. Fake News:

"And if you listen to Bob and Alice’s conversation, you aren’t really spying on Bob, only Alice had her phone tapped!"

That's obviously true. If the FBI has a mob boss wiretapped and he makes a phone call to order a pizza, it would be dishonest to claim the FBI "wiretapped" or "conducted surveillance on" the pizzeria.

Not if the actual target was the pizza place and the mob figure was just a convenience. You guys are way too trusting of government.

Good point. I would not rely on either the NYT or Trump for news. But only one of them wants to charge me.

So what you're saying is, we should put as much stock in what the NY Times says as in what Trump tweets?

Hey mate, I'm with you. Way ahead, actually, welcome to the party.

Most unsettling is browsing through the headlines in my Google News feed. Headlines from different newspapers reporting on the same event suggest that very different things happened. Almost as if they are reporting from alternate universes. It is so bad that I shoved the national and world news to the bottom of the feed. I cannot figure out how to move or remove Google's Top Stories section.

Imagine if there was a similar post for every occasion that Fox News had a similar or worse blooper.

No problem though. Some people and organizations hold themselves to higher standards. The criticism should be welcome.

"Over one-third of American univeristies have experienced increased applications. America is great again!"

Good catch -- though much of the NYT in recent years seems to aim at persuading of a particular point of view rather than providing information.

Seems that the economics of the mainstream news business these days requires the publisher to appeal to the point of view of their base. Note the howls of outrage, the ad hominem attacks when the WSJ dares suggest that perhaps President Trump is not the greatest president since George Washington.

I think they mainly aim to sell newspapers.

Do they? They want to sell some newspapers, but I don't think they want to sell as many as they could if they reported the news straight.

Be sure to let us know where to find the spin.

There is also the question of "Is this a return to the mean?" since last year saw yet another record for foreign students at U.S. schools:

Does the article say what fraction of institutions responded to the survey?

"Note the howls of outrage, the ad hominem attacks when the WSJ dares suggest that perhaps President Trump is not the greatest president since George Washington."

So, your suggesting that the WSJ has objective neutrality whereas the NYT's has largely lost any claim to any kind of neutrality. Yes, I would agree.

Look, this is the NYT we're talking about. If any piece of data can be manipulated to make Trump or conservatives look evil or stupid, the manipulation will proceed with the greatest degree of alacrity.

I look forward to not only a correction but in fact a retraction of the entire article and its headline.

Why? Isn't the real problem with the article, and the survey, that they count institutions rather than applicants? That looks like a meaningless number to me.

If Michigan - undergraduate enrollment 28,000 - show a decrease of 1% and the University of the South - enrollment 1800 - shows an increase of 2% that hardly suggests an overall increase, yet they count the same in the survey.

There are multiple things wrong with the article but even if you chose to count institutions, just saying 40% saw a decrease while not mentioning that 39% saw an increase and then attributing the 40% decrease to rhetoric is at best dishonest.

This calls for a little fun. NY Times reports on 2017 Super Bowl:

Falcons Offense Stuns Patriots With Astounding First Half Performance
Patriots Defense, Fans Left In Shock By Game's Outcome

All true! Anyone else care to contribute?

Apocryphal Pravda headline:

US and USSR compete in Olympic competition. USSR places second, US second to last.

There were only two competitors.

Reminds me of the time when US won the Bronze medal at Los Angeles in Men's Field Hockey, the only time it participated in this event.

There were only 3 competitors.

Reminds me of the time when US won the Bronze medal at Los Angeles in Men's Field Hockey, the only time it participated in this event.

There were only 3 competitors.

I think the point of that went over your head.

Not sure you're paying attention

"Does the article say what fraction of institutions responded to the survey?"

It said "over 250" which presumably means "between 250 and 300".

No, it means 251. 253 at the most.

Standard NYT training says that when you are trying to exaggerate a number to make your lie seem more plausible, you use phrases like "more than 250" or "nearly 260." Since they opted for the former, apparently even they would have felt guilty about saying "Nearly 260."

Ask yourself -- why didn't they just print the freaking number? Would it have killed them to say "253"? They didn't because that kind of specificity would have invited thought. But if they say "over 250" you are just sort of left with the impression that it's a lot.

Conversely, if they want to make a number seem small, they say "fewer than." The 9/11 attacks, which killed fewer than 3000 people. Donald Trump, who received fewer than 310 electoral votes. And so on.

"Standard NYT training says that when you are trying to exaggerate a number to make your lie seem more plausible, you use phrases like “more than 250” or “nearly 260.” Since they opted for the former, apparently even they would have felt guilty about saying “Nearly 260.”"

Let's say this is the case. How does that impact the truth value? What is the difference in power of a survey with 251 responders versus one with 259?

This also opens up questions about what counts as a response when you're dealing with a survey that has lots of questions. If a school responded to one or two questions but refused to answer any of the detailed ones, should that count as a response? Rounding off seems like a reasonable way of describing the scope of the survey (this wasn't 20 responses but it also wasn't 5,000) without being so precise nitpickers jump all over you.

Well, unlike many people here, I read the actual report. Which says "over 250". Nothing to do with the NY Times. I don't know how many colleges there are, but I agree it's probably not much over 250 or they would have been precise.

The NYT links to the survey ( The survey itself says 'more than 250' leaving the exact # of responses unknown but presumably between 251 and 300.

In other news, the Lake Wobegon, MN school board reported that in 2017, probably due to recent political developments we here all disapprove of, nearly 50% of its students are below average.

I'm normally against shame mobs on social media but my one exception is bad journalism, especially from large outlets like the NY Times. And this story desperately requires a shame mob.

the only thing I'm surprised by is that Tyler seems to be attempting to hold the NYTimes to a higher standard than every other tabloid, shitty, distorted "news" organization. they've been a rag for years now. you're just noticing?

Valid point, but we can also say the same thing about headlines of "Obamacare premiums up 100%" where the areas with 100% increases tend to be small and rural with few people covered while other areas with millions see much smaller increases.

Or in a different vein how about if a particular tax rate goes from 1% to 1.5% and the headline screams "50% increase in taxes"? That's technically right but I bet you a huge portion of readers are thinking it's a tax rate of 50%, not just under 2%, in discussion.

I think what we see here is the inability of the human brain to easily work with percentages intelligently unless the reader has practiced a lot and keeps aware of how subtle they can be.

Umm no, shocker that you give them that much credit. They didn't even mention the other %'s thus not giving their feeble human readers' brains the ability to incorrectly process the %'s as you say.

You assume that they themselves first correctly processed %'s...correctly realizing that you could have 40% of schools show declines in international applications while the overall number nonetheless remains stable.

The NYT didn't do the survey, it's linked in the online article.
Looking at the pdf it appears they did not actually collect a count of how many international applications schools have received. They only asked them if applications increased/decreased slightly/significantly or not at all. Glancing at the graphs it appears to me the decrease color does outweigh the increase color indicating 40% of schools saw a decrease and there was an overall decrease. Year over year that probably amounts to a very small decrease but then not knowing how much international applications typically vary by year doesn't tell us much. It very well may be this is a very stable metric so even a slight overall decrease is unusual.

Yes you can say the same thing if its true, when did the NYT or WSJ or WPO give the premiums increase headlines?

Others can put more time into this but searching google (not always the best place to grab headlines only)*&spf=377

I'm seeing most seem to cluster around the average (22%-30%) but they tend to be big mainstream media sources (Time, CNN, etc.) But NY's local CBS affiliate goes with a headline about Arizona's 100%+ increase (again technically accurate but it's an n=1). I suspect none actually try to put the total average Obamacare premium in relation to what the average premium is for a non-exchange employer provided policy...or if they do it is buried deep down and more likely to be found in a wonkier type source like Bloomberg.

Blooper normally implies that one made a mistake.

I don't really imagine that Times did that unintentionally.

(May I be wrong? Sure.

But the time when I would assume the Times was trying to be professional rather than partisan is long past, from long experience of watching the errors all go in the same direction.)

Kinda funny that the NYT correction story is running 2x comments of the "The show so far."

I'd say actual importance for the Union runs the other way.

# of comments is normally such a great indicator of importance, too. Usually if a post is REALLY important, Thiago shows up to shit post about something totally unrelated and derail the whole thread, which usually adds at least 50 inane comments to the count.

The media (mainstream or not) makes money by publishing things that someone wants to read. This is what they have always done.

If their audience doesn't care about or can't distinguish fact from fiction this is what you get. The whole lot, from Eastern European fake news sites all the way up, is 90% echo chamber.

Never was that more obvious than when "leggings" are the top story in US media for a few days running.

I'm not sure what's going on here - Tyler's reading of the report appears to itself be selective. From the report's introduction:

"Over the past year, international educators expressed concern that the political discourse surrounding foreign nationals in the U.S. leading up to the November 2016 U.S. presidential election could be damaging
to international student recruitment efforts. In response to those voiced concerns, a coalition of six higher education associations launched an inter-associational member survey in February 2017."

I just don't know how you could interpret that other than to say the report's authors were concerned about the trend and thought the 39 percent figure was newsworthy - a point emphasized in the anecdotal reports and actual enrollment data from some schools included in the NYT story.

It's a trend story, not empirical data - the authors state that the survey was meant to capture a "snapshot" until real data is available. The survey could be misleading or mistaken, but it seems like the fault, if any, is with its authors, rather than the NYT.

I agree that the NY Times is not the original source of the error. The NY Times, NBC News, and others uncritically repeated the lobbyists' findings without actuallly reading the report.

Statistics. Statistics. The reported number is number of applications. Average US applicants applied to 7 or more universities, so assuming the average oversea applicants each apply to 10 US universities, that means a drop of 4% potential oversea applicants to certain type of universities. From last year's data the number of actual oversea students with possibly muslim background was about 9.5%. (hmm. The report did point this out, even at a much higer 10% as my estimate includes fractional Indian muslim %) Given current atmosphere it wont be surprise if half of those potential students did not apply. They are also tended to be not in the STEM fields thus concentrating the effects on certain liberal/business major universities. While some universities reported increase in applications they usually artificially cap the oversea student quota and the increase in applications most probably will not translate much into actual increase in enrollments. What is lost is lost, what appears to be gain most probably are not real gain.

On top of that there is also Trump created political uncertainty about China (31.5% of actual student source).

OK, so a link that to a (uh oh) New York Times column in June, 2015 (old) that argues that after 9/11 there were 254 people kileed by "right wing extrmists" is .

I do not claim that NYTimes is unbiased or that they are free of erroneous or misleading reporting and headlines. Certainly this case is one, although they may have been taken in by others. Nevertheless, they should have reported it accurately. There have also been some notorious cases of outright false reporting in the past, with most of those fitting in with what most think are the perceived biases at NY Times. However, it remains the case that they have a high rate of accuracy, much higher than many other outlets, which is why we get shocked when we find them not following their own standards. After all, they are currently marketing themselves for their supposedly high level of factual reporting, which is mostly correct.

It is certainly correct compared to some news sources that nobody here seems to be criticizing, and which were awful even before Trump came along to make things even worse. So, Fox News is not a newspaper, but there has been a steady stream of studies for quite a few years now about how people who get most of their "news" from Fox are more poorly informed than people who do not look at any media for news and certainly more poorly informed than people who get their news from other sources, with PBS being the source associated with the best informed members of the public. So, maybe like Gabe getting his knickes all in a twist over how everybody knows and agrees that Trump is just an egregious liar, but I do not see many hear going on about how the NY Times is in danger of lowering itself to the level of Fox News. No, it has mostly been along lines that the NY Times is just biased and misleading all the time all over, which is, to put it bluntly, a pile of crap, and those arguing this should be ashamed of themselves, but pretty obviously are not, being thoroughly full of incredible self-righteousness.

Let me also note that while most inaccuracies or misleadingness in the NY Times is to the "left" by US standards (sorry, but globally NY Times is a conservative paper, kids), sometimes they mislead from the other direction. A notorious example is the reporting prior to the Iraq war by Judith Miller about the nonexistent WMD there, with the ed page weighing in for the war on the basis of this, and this reporting definitely playing an important role in convincing quite a few Dems in the US Senate (see Hillary Clinton) to vote in support of the Bush war resolution on Iraq.

Of course, Donald Trump made a big deal about Hillary's vote and went on and on about how he was against the Iraq war. But, as we know, that was another lie, he being like John Kerry in having been for the war before he was against it.

Sorry link not working, but report can easily be found. Column was by David Kurzman and Charles Schanzer and appeared on June 16, 2015 in the NY Times.

Wow Barkley. That's quite a world you have created for yourself.

Not a "blooper." A lie.

I think you all over over-reading this to an absurd degree. The article is speculative, but notes that it is. More context with the numbers would be nice, but considering that the article links to the report itself, it seems like a massive stretch to say that it's trying to mislead.

Raises the question why was the piece run to begin with. To fill space not filled by advertising? A factoid really meaningless by itself floated across an editor's desk and was handed off to be spun into a side after thought comment on Trump?

I don't know. Looking at the report, what does stand out is that 40% colleges had a decline in applications from students *from the middle east* while very few colleges had a *rise* in applications. In other words the "middle east" category had the greatest [Decline in applications] - [rise in applications].

That does seem like exactly what you'd expect in response to anti-foreigner rhetoric that singles out Muslims.

Curious that you ask for not just a retraction of the headline but the entire article. It is clear that the article, if one reads the article as oppose to just glaceing at a headline, it is about the concerns of those universities that have experienced declines (or believe they will) and not about the survey. It is not about if overall there are increases/declines, etc.

Also, since the NTY article provides a link to the survey and (as you pointed out) the data can be found on the first page, this only leads me to the conclusion that the NYT was not fabricating anything or attempting to deceive anyone. My opinion is that they provided the reader with the information needed, as opposed to so many so called news sites that list no sources or references.

As for your headline complaint; I have to take it that you do not understand the purpose of headlines (or "news at 11" for the video media) is to get the viewer to read the article - and typically those appeals are to their readership base (and yes, the NYT has more liberal/left subscribers than the WSJ, etc.). So if that's going to be the criteria for publishing your blog complaints about the media in the future, I'd not only suggest you have a new full-time job but you also need to hire an awful lot of staff to keep up.

The headline directly contradicts the easily summarized data, and here you come with the the NYT is not "not attempting to deceive anyone." And the article is defensible because it doesn't entirely follow the headline. What next, a little plagiarism is okay?

"As for your headline complaint; I have to take it that you do not understand the purpose of headlines"

Right: don't hate the player, hate the game. That's the NYT front page slogan, is it not. What you defend above is indistinguishable from tabloidism, and you a testable paparazzi hocking for them.

The *subject* of the article is clearly about colleges seeing (or thinking they are) a decline, the *subject* of the article clearly is *not* about the survey (which is used only *once* to qualify the quantity). If the criteria for "tabloidism" is any media that uses a lead in headline to grab the attention of the audience, then all of media is "tabloidism". As for "testable paparazzi hocking" I'll refrain from juvenile labeling.

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