Category Archives: statistics

Annals of dubious research, 401(k) loan-default edition

Bob Litan, formerly of the Kauffman Foundation and the Brookings Institution, has recently taken up a new job as director of research for Bloomberg Government, where he’s going to have to be transparent and impartial. But one of his last gigs before moving to Bloomberg — a paper on the subject of people borrowing money from their 401(k) accounts — was neither of those things.

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Posted in economics, statistics | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Low-Probability Disaster of the Day, Exosphere Edition

From Andy Pazstor: Pentagon brass, satellite industry executives and NASA leaders for years have publicly expressed concern about the dangers of orbital debris. But the odds of a direct hit between satellites were considered so small as to be basically … Continue reading

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Can We Trust Statistics?

The Numbers Game, which was something of a surprise bestseller in England, has finally made it stateside. It’s probably the clearest book I’ve yet seen on all the different ways in which numbers can lie or mislead, and as such … Continue reading

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More Counterfeit Drug Scaremongering

Are you worried about counterfeit drugs? According to the American Council on Science and Health, you certainly should be: Counterfeit drugs, including fake, substandard, adulterated or falsely labeled (“misbranded”) medicines, have become a real and growing threat to global health… … Continue reading

Posted in intellectual property, statistics | 1 Comment

Dubious Statistics of the Day, Toxic Mortgage Edition

Interest and pressure groups put out garbage masquerading as useful research on a daily basis; it’s the job of the press to recongnise it as such and ignore it. Most of the time, the press does a very good job … Continue reading

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Department of Dubious Statistics, Oil Imports Edition

The $700 billion the US pays each year to nasty oil-exporting countries — the $700 billion that both Barack Obama and John McCain have cited in their paeans to energy independence — doesn’t exist: According to government agencies that track … Continue reading

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Intellectual Property Statistics

Welcome, Julian Sanchez, to the Alice-in-Wonderland world of trying to track down widely-cited statistics to their original source! I tried and failed with counterfeiting statistics; Julian has now tried and failed with estimates of lost jobs and money due to … Continue reading

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Lies, Damn Lies, and Tourism Statistics

In 1995, the owner of the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad sued Warner Brothers. The movie studio had used the railroad as a location for the train crash scene in The Fugitive, and the railroad had asked in return for an … Continue reading

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House Price Datapoint of the Day

The National Association of Realtors has a hard time this month spinning their own data release: The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $203,100 in August, down 9.5 percent from a year ago when the median was … Continue reading

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Credit Cards: Not Dead Yet

Dan Gross has a piece in Slate entitled "The Death of the Credit Card Economy". It tells a plausible and compelling story: as credit-card companies slash credit lines, so are consumers cutting back on their spending. Gross quotes Dan Ariely … Continue reading

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