Monday, August 1, 2011

Ely on Econometrics

Here is an excerpt from a fantastic post on applied statistics by Jeff Ely:

A big part of the explanation is that statistics is a rhetorical practice. The goal is not just to convey information but rather to change minds. In an imaginary perfect world there is no distinction between these goals. If I have data that proves H is false I can just distribute that data, everyone will analyze it in their own favorite way, everyone will come to the same conclusion, and that will be enough.

But in the real world that is not enough. I want to state in clear, plain language terms “H is false, read all about it” and have that statement be the one that everyone focuses on. I want to shape the debate around that statement. I don’t want nuances to distract attention away from my conclusion. In the real world, with limited attention spans, imperfect reasoning, imperfect common-knowledge, and just plain old laziness, I can’t get that kind of focus unless I push the data into the background and my preferred intepretation into the foreground.

The whole post is worth a read. This perspective reminds me of Dierdre McCloskey's Rhetoric of Economics. There's more to that perspective, but it is also worth a read.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to share your ideas about this post in the open forum. Be mindful that comments in this blog are moderated. Please keep your comments respectful and on point.