Study Finds Liberal Pundits More Accurate Than Conservatives


Astrology anyone?

In my recent review of the great new book, Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, And You Can Do Better, I noted the work of political scientist Phililp Tetlock, who set up a 20-year experiment in which he enrolled nearly 300 experts in politics.

Tetlock then solicited thousands of predictions about the fates of scores of countries and later checked how well they did. Not so well. Tetlock concluded that most of his experts would have been beaten by "a dart-throwing chimpanzee." Tetlock found that the experts wearing rose-tinted glasses "assigned probabilities of 65 percent to rosy scenarios that materialized only 15 percent of the time." Doomsters did even worse: "They assigned probabilities of 70 percent to bleak scenarios that materialized only 12 percent of the time."

Now some students at Hamilton College in New York have conducted a similar study evaluating 26 pundits (mostly prominent denizens of op/ed pages and haunters of Sunday morning political talk shows) for the accuracy of their predictions. Basically their research confirms Tetlock's findings. From the executive summary:

We have discovered a number of implications from our regressions and analysis of the data.  First, we have discovered that six of the analyzed prognosticators are better than a coin flip (with statistical significance.)  Four are worse, and the other 16 are not statistically significant.  A larger sample can provide better evidence addressing the question of if prognosticators on the whole are better than a coin flip.  We understand that being better than a coin flip is not a high bar to set, but it is a serious indictment of prognosticators if they are, on average, no better than a flipped coin.

According to our regression analysis, liberals are better predictors than conservatives—even when taking out the Presidential and Congressional election questions.  Whether this holds true from election season to election season needs further evaluation; liberals may have implicit benefits from Obama winning the 2008 election.  Tentatively, however, we can assert that liberals are better predictors than conservatives.  Additionally, individuals with law degrees were less accurate than those who did not possess law degrees.

A final important implications is that we did not discover that certain types of predictions tended to be more or less accurate than others.  For example, we did not see that economic predictions were more accurate than healthcare predictions.  This suggests that prognosticators on the whole have no unique expertise in any area—even on political predictions, like the Presidential or party primary elections.

The Hamilton College website features a good article that shows the rankings of the policy soothsayers:

The students found that only nine of the prognosticators they studied could predict more accurately than a coin flip. Two were significantly less accurate, and the remaining 14 were not statistically any better or worse than a coin flip.

The top prognosticators – led by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman – scored above five points and were labeled "Good," while those scoring between zero and five were "Bad." Anyone scoring less than zero (which was possible because prognosticators lost points for inaccurate predictions) were put into "The Ugly" category. Syndicated columnist Cal Thomas came up short and scored the lowest of the 26.

Even when the students eliminated political predictions and looked only at predictions for the economy and social issues, they found that liberals still do better than conservatives at prediction. After Krugman, the most accurate pundits were Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – all Democrats and/or liberals. Also landing in the "Good" category, however, were conservative columnists Kathleen Parker and David Brooks, along with Bush Administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. Left-leaning columnist Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post rounded out the "good" list.

Those scoring lowest – "The Ugly" – with negative tallies were conservative columnist Cal Thomas; U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC); U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI); U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, a McCain supporter and Democrat-turned-Independent from Connecticut; and Sam Donaldson of ABC.

Landing between the two extremes – "The Bad" – were Howard Wolfson, communications director for Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign; former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a hopeful in the 2008 Republican primary; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Republican; Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the Democratic nominee for president in 2004; liberal columnist Bob Herbert of The New York Times; Andrea Mitchell of NBC; New York Times columnist Tom Friedman; the late David Broder, former columnist for The Washington Post; Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page; New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof; Hillary Clinton; and conservative George Will.

Go here to download the study.

Addendum: Megan McArdle, the business and economics editor for The Atlantic, poohs-poohs the statistical analysis of the study. She makes an insightful comparison between the selected prognosticators and how well mutual fund managers do over time:

…my finance profs taught me that the top mutual funds in a given year are not any more likely to show up as next year's top funds.  Indeed, they may be less likely to do well the next year.  Why?  Because funds have strategies, which do better or worse depending on market conditions.  The funds that do well in a given year are probably the funds that were especially well positioned to show outsized fluctuations in response to whatever changed that year–but that also means that they're especially likely to do lose money when those conditions change.  Because the flucuations are a random walk, they do not vindicate the fund manager's strategy or perspicacity–but they may seem to, temporarily.

Which may cast some light on why liberal pundits did especially well in this test.  If you were the sort of person who is systematically biased towards predicting a bad end for Republicans, and a rosy future for Democrats, then election year 2008 was going to make you look like a genius.  If you were the sort of person who takes a generally dim view of anything Democrats get up to, then your pessimism was probably going to hit more often than it missed.

It would be interesting to go back and look at the same group in the year running up to 2010.  But even then, it would tell us very little.  To do any sort of a true test, we'd have to get a bunch of these prognosticators to all make predictions about the same binary events, over a lengthy period of time, and then see how they fared over a multi-year period. I suspect that they'd end up looking a lot like mutual fund managers: little variation that could be distinguished from random variance.

It would be cheaper and just as accurate to hire one of those dart throwing monkeys, I guess.

Disclosure: While I still read op/ed pages, I have not tuned into the Sunday morning political talk shows for a number of years now. Also, I have a niece who will be graduating from Hamilton this month. She studied geology and archaelogy and did not participate in the research.

NEXT: Our Imaginary Debt Ceiling

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  1. Hamilton college found this? Really?

    How did they find the time for their class in club-footed Marxist trans-gendered literature?

    1. double ditto and one more ditto for good measure…

  2. I’m curious as to what Paulie Krugnuts got “right”. In fact, what is the metric by which they measure a prognostication as being “right”?

    1. Yeah, that thought came immediately to my mind upon reading that as well.

    2. Right thinking.

      1. Exactly. The number of assumptions and assertions built into this study render it useless. I’ll file it under the heading “Liberal Self-Congratulation”.

        There’s the issue of what is “right”. Also, who determines whether Krugman expressed these “correct” opinions. Paul Krugman has said 10,000 things about the economy. Did they just factor in that Krugman said it would “improve” and then cherry-pick some variable that shows it improved?

        1. Yeah, so when he contradicts himself over and over (dependent on what administration is in office that the partisan hack endorses) does that mean that he gets to play both sides of the coin and they just say he was right? What has he EVER been right about?

      2. This is from the actual study:

        “Perhaps most importantly, being a good prognosticator seems to be a product of choices, not birth. Anyone can be good; all they need to do is avoid law school and buy into liberalism as an overarching philosophy.”

        That tells you about all you need to know about the authors, who are hopelessly ignorant of statistics. For starters, correlation =/= causation.

    3. double ditto wound up in the wrong place

  3. So the party in power can better predict what they’re going to do than the other party? Gee, that very interesting and useful information.

    1. Hi! I’m one of the authors of the study. If you read the study, you’ll find that we actually controlled for the elections in running the regression. Liberals tended to be better both with and without election predictions included.

      I figure (since I’m commenting at Reason) it’s also worth noting that we did not include a libertarian-authoritarian dimension on the scale.

      1. Evan, please answer my above question: what is your metric for a prognostication being “right”?

        1. In your heart, ….

        2. Yes – we are all interested to see what criteria you used to determine that Paul Krugman was ‘right’ more than anyone else.

        3. Actually, I can accept that Krugman was “right” in the the sense that his predictions came to pass without believing that his grasp of the significance of those events and/or their desirability are correctly evaluated.

          Take GM for existence. If Dear Doktor said that the bailout would get the automaker back on its feet, he’s correct. It did. But that has no bearing on the secondary effects of screwing over the investors to pad the union pensions, the desirability of zombie companies in the long-run, and the general practice of bailing-out out failed companies. I’m sure that Krugman either thought all this didn’t matter, made up some bullshit like MNG about the union bail-out, or likes the idea of limited industrial/government partnerships.

          Krugman +1 (and none of the other stuff counts.)

          1. Again: this comes back to what does “right” mean? I’d really like to have that question answered, because it means everything for this study.

            1. It means that on the prediction they made, it had a testable component–that is, a factual assertion we could check–and being “right” meant that we did check it. So we couldn’t check someone saying “America will win in Iraq.” We can check someone saying “the housing market will not recover for quite some time.”

              1. Isn’t “recover” as fuzzy as “win”? And “quite some time” is not exact a precise time frame.

              2. Isn’t the “quite some time” aspect of that statement incredibly vague? I mean, I can say that the recession will last for “some time more”, and by your metric, that’s “right”. If that’s your level of scrutiny, no offense, but your study doesn’t mean jack.

              3. To take your example:

                Has the housing market recovered? What is your metric for rendering the assertion for whether or not the housing market has improved?

                1. Exactly, marlock. Is recovered the same as improved? Or it is if the market can regain its former value? (Which is what most homeowners would consider a recovery.) And wouldn’t that mean the bubble would have to re-inflate?

                  1. We can use, say, the Case-Shiller home pricing index to test where house prices are relative to 2007. And I think that prediction would be rated true, based on the C-S index:…../SPCS20RSA

                    A recovery certainly hadn’t happened “soon” after the 2007-2008 timeframe.

                    1. So in other words, you get to define “housing market recovery” based on an arbitrary value in a pricing index of your own selection?

                      Unless you have examples of pundits saying “the case-shiller home pricing index will go up in the next 6 months”, then you’re playing a referee who gets to make up the rules of the game as it’s played.

                    2. Is this where I say ‘hide the decline’?

          2. GM declared Ch.11 – of course investors lost all.

            1. And the restructuring plan from the government didn’t make the union “lose” anything. The sell off of assets were used to top off the union pension and insurance funds before paying back investors. Or did you miss the thread where MNG proved maybe 300 times that he couldn’t–or more likely wouldn’t–grasp the distinction between secured and unsecured debt?

            2. In Ch 11, equity investors lose all. Debt investors get to be made as whole as possible. What the goverment did with Crysler (and GM too?) was break the law by wipeing out the senior debt investors, who should have had first pickings, and handing all the new equity to the unions.

              1. Senior bondholders were not wiped out – they were haircut according to Delaware court precedent.

                The unions were also haircut and retained interest according to a century old rule called the Critical Vendor Clause which was also used in the 80’s when airline pilots unions benefited.

                All SOP – nothing out of the ordinary.

                1. No, shrike. All you did was identify the bullshit excuse for what they did, not the correctness in doing it.

                  A union pension fund is not a “Critical Vendor.”

                2. “All SOP – nothing out of the ordinary.”

                  You don’t really believe that, do you?

                  Senior GM bondholders got about 28 cents on the dollar. It wasn’t a haircut; it was a cramdown.

                  The UAW got a 39% equity stake in Newco for its $10 billion in claims.

                  Bondholders got a 10% stake for their $27 billion in claims.

                  I suppose

                  1. I suppose that would be SOP in shrike-world.

            3. “GM declared Ch.11 – of course investors lost all.”

              WRONG. Equity investors correctly lose all in Ch. 11, but a couple of centuries of bankrupcy law convey ownership of the company’s assets to its creditors. Obama and Company changed all that with GM and Chrysler. They conveyed a huge portion of the creditors’ investment to the UAW.

              1. Obama and Company changed nothing. As I pointed out previous unions have been deemed Critical Vendors in the past.

                Steelworkers and Airline Pilots in recent history – but that was OK then and not now?

                Ch.11 requires that the company continue operation and some workers are deemed “critical”.

                Leave the capitalism to me.

                1. Your “I’m not a leftist” mask is slipping.

                2. “Leave the capitalism to me.”

                  Snorted coffee on my keyboard on that one. Warn me next time you write complete David Lynchesque barkingly mad comments. (I guess you did by putting “shrike” at the top tho)

      2. EK: thanks for joining the conversation here.

        1. Seconded. Gotta give credit to someone willing to defend his work against the libertarian hordes.

  4. lefty msm = accuracy

    1. Oh, pu – did someone fart?

    2. I’m gonna block this cunt too (already blocked Minge*).

      Thanks again sloopyinca!

      *BTW, MNG is Rather. I discovered this when I blocked MNG (and only MNG). Rather ended up blocked too. So MNG is also that useless cunt rather!!!

      1. Why use a ‘block’ feature, Lord GG? I don’t get that way of thinking…

        1. Because this is all I see:

          shrike|5.4.11 @ 11:32AM|#|show direct|unignore
          reply to this

          So I don’t have to waste time. And if I want I can alway click “unignore” to read what was written if I want to.

      2. Oh, now that’s rich (no offense to actual Rich). MNG sure has a lot of time on his hands.

      3. it looks like you’re using the chrome plugin. Are you sure that rather didn’t get blocked automagically by the server’s suggest list? I noticed rather started disappearing without any input from me.

  5. Of course liberals are better at predicting than conservatives. It’s because they’re not only better-educated, they’re just plain smarter – more intelligent; higher IQ. I mean, that should be plainly evident to anyone with a brain.

    I do seem to recall a study of some sort not too long ago that actually purported to conclude that – i.e., that liberals generally were better-educated and smarter than conservatives.

    Because such “studies,” of course, are definitive, conclusive and 100% reliably objective.

    1. Anything that supports my preconceived notions is A-OK! Confirmation bias is best bias.

      1. except the hamilton college study provides data

        1. Not really – see Epi’s question above.

        2. He did not release the data when he released his press release.

          It was a hack move.

  6. Study by liberals concludes in favor of liberals…

  7. I wonder if they might find time to look into the descriptive accuracy of undergraduate research.

    Interesting that Kathleen Parker is considered conservative.

    1. I would consider her ‘center’.

      1. I consider her an “idiot”, but that’s just me.

    2. And, sorry, but David Brooks is only a “concervative” to the bomb-throwers at the Times. That douche gave up his “conservative” credentials about the time he was popping a boner over Obama’s (Osama’s?) pant crease. He is no more a conservative these days than Christoper Hitchens is the socialist of his youth.

      1. Yeah he can probably spell “conservative” tho…

        1. damn, I thought it was a hybrid of “concern troll” and “conservative” which is kind of what he is.

          1. Brooks is a dandy. How else do you explain the pants crease fetish?

  8. I’m curious as to whether either liberals or conservatives were better at predicting the outcome of liberal or conservative policies. Smoking bans for example, would roughly divide with liberals predicting decreased heart attacks and conservatives predicting bars going out of business. Turns out neither story was correct, but how often did liberals predict that bars wouldn’t go out of business and how often did conservatives predict that a smoking ban would have no affect on heart attacks?

  9. I just read a 60-page paper about the accuracy of pundits’ predictions?that includes no examples of the predictions it purports to evaluate.


    1. We’ll be releasing all our data to the public shortly and will provide a link when that’s up.

      1. What’s your prediction as to when the data will be released?

        1. I expect ~24 hours.

      2. WOOT!!!

        But next time you might think about releasing your data at the same time you make your press release.


  10. Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, And You Can Do Better

    The best part is, you don’t even need to read the book.

    1. It’s kind of like Gabriel Garcia Marquez “Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor”. He asks, “You already know how the story ends. So why do you read it?”

      I don’t KNOW Gabriel! But I’m COMPELLED!

  11. The top prognosticators ? led by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman ? scored above five points and were labeled “Good,”

    If this is their example of someone who is right, then there are some serious methodological problems with their study.

    Krugman is fucking wrong All. The. Time.

    1. Or maybe you are. People who question methodology because the outcome contradicts their beliefs would seem more likely to be wrong more often.

      1. Please don’t feed the troll.

        1. so any-1 who disgrees with u is a troll god forrbid peeple have a diferent oppinons

          1. Gotta luv ur spling!

            1. tipical libertard tatic, attack speling and grammer but not the massage. pathetc

              1. I’m sorry. Let’s try again.

                People who question methodology because the outcome contradicts their beliefs would seem more likely to be wrong more often.

                Hey, nice opinion!!

        2. You just did, you fool!

          1. Warning someone to not step in dog shit is not the same thing as stepping in dog shit yourself.

            1. You’re a towel!

              1. Hey, you wanna get high?

    2. Krugman is far more accurate than the token GOP race twins – Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell (the Sharpton and Jackson of conservatopia)

      1. Surprise, surprise: shriek adds racism to his homophobia and redneck hatred (of himself, of course). You really are a piece of shit, shriek. When didn’t you stop beating your wife?

        1. Get back to the cock, boy!

          1. Just keep up the homophobia, shriek. Your classlessness is on perfect display.

          2. Imma gonna block your sorry ass too. This is great!

          3. Now, now, everyone knows that racism is tolerated (and ENCOURAGED!) when the target in question is conservative…Hey, shrike, would you say that Sowell, Cain, Justice Thomas, et al, are Uncle Toms? Hmmmmmmmmmmm..? Maybe they should go back to the plantation, huh? Any other hateful liberal platitudes towards blacks that don’t obey the party line I can put in your mouth (which is already full of B.O.’s ball sack – good thing that’s a black man that knows his PLACE!!)

            1. No, they are just second rate economists who deserve little respect.

              1. Clarence Thomas has never purported to be an economist. Just sayin’. And in case you can’t tell, respect for you is comin’ outta the woodwork on this comment thread…but I guess that is just your winning personality and REALLY LOGICAL arguments.

  12. Conservatives rely on faith. Faith is defined as belief without factual basis (with factual support it then becomes knowledge).

    As Colbert jokes – facts have a liberal bias – the “conservative” Colbert prefers to rely on his gut instinct.

    Examples of conservative myths – Creationism, “tax cuts always produce jobs”, “deficits don’t matter”, “they will greet us with flowers”, God is a Republican, etc.

    1. This is why I really hate Stewart/Colbert.

      We need to get shrike on either of their shows. After the event, Jon Stewart apologizes to America for being such a tool.

    2. Ouch, Shrike! That stung!

    3. I always wondered if there were any viewers out there in TV zombieland who took Colbert seriously. I guess we found one.

    4. Anybody that references the Daily Show or Colbert to prove they’re correct are idiots. Why do some people have to copy the kool kids instead of thinking for themselves?

  13. After Krugman, the most accurate pundits were Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ? all Democrats and/or liberals. Also landing in the “Good” category, however, were conservative columnists Kathleen Parker and David Brooks, along with Bush Administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.

    I quit reading at this point. When bullshit-spouters like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Hank Paulson, people who do not appear to be in touch with objective reality, are held up as accurate predictors of the consequences of their failed policies, it’s time to write off this study as hopelessly wrong.

    1. Pelosi’s prediction that “we have to pass it to know what’s in it” was pretty accurate. Accurately Stupid, but still.

      1. No – Pelosi said “we have to pass it so YOU will know whats in it”.

        1. Are you *certain* that’s the quote?

          1. shrike|5.4.11 @ 11:32AM|#
            Faith is defined as belief without factual basis

            Thanks for the example, shriek.

          2. You just proved my point. The conservative bullshit “death panels” drowned out the reality of the printed bill.

            1. shrike, you’re a funny guy.

              1. Your own link proved me correct!

          3. Shrike completely wrong about Palosi quote.

            New left wing study finds that he gets a 5 score in accuracy.

        2. You’re so unbelievably stupid, shriek. Don’t ever change.

          1. You’re the cockmaster!

            1. Excellent riposte, shriek. You are a true master of wit. It’s a perfect display of your erudition and intelligence.

              1. Is “cockmaster” really an insult? You’ve mastered your cock. That’s an impressive feat. I guess if you were a “master of [other people’s] cocks” that might be an insult. Assuming you thought that being homosexual was something to be ashamed of. Which sounds like a point of view held by a conservative.

                1. Oh, shriek is everything he purports to hate, which is actually pretty delicious. When he finally realizes it, it should crush him, which is even more delicious. Then again, he’s amazingly stupid, so it’s unclear if and when he might have that epiphany.

                2. Assuming you thought that being homosexual was something to be ashamed of.

                  Female cockmasters have nothing to be ashamed of. God bless them all.

            2. You’re the cockmaster!

              So do you only hate only gays or do you hate heterosexual women as well?

              1. Shriek is the Mr. Garrison of H&R – (s)he actually IS gay, but goes around telling OTHER people that THEY’RE gay and that (s)he HATES teh gaiz.

                Self hate – it’s an ugly thing.

    2. Maureen Dowd makes predictions in her columns? I thought she just strung together buzzwords and relevant-sounding phrases.

      1. I suspect that these somehow may have been interpreted to be accurate predictions in the way that the ambiguous writings of Nostradamus are interpreted to fit some narrative of events.

        1. They’re ambiguous only to those without eyes to see.

      2. Her prediction that she would never find a man “worthy” of her has come true so far. Her ego probably smothers them before they get within 10 feet.

        1. I’d imagine the prospect of a deathly chill arising from constant acrimony further endears her to those who might welcome the smothering.

        2. Can you imagine the dusty, cracking, useless mass her unused quiff has become? I don’t want to picture that…

          *closes eyes REALLY hard*

      3. She said that Cindy Sheehan had absolute moral authority. I dunno if that is a prediction, but it certainly isn’t felt that way by lefties anymore.

    3. What did Hank Paulson predict besides the fact that Goldman Sachs, through his and TurboTax Timmy’s help, was gonna make serious bank?

      1. TIMMEH!

  14. They analyzed data from between September 2007 and December 2008. This was an election year in which supporters of the party in power had an intense interest in telling everyone that everything was going to be just fine, and supporters of the opposition party had an intense interest in telling everyone that everything was going to shit.

    Everything went to shit, and so the supporters of the opposition party were “right” more often than supporters of the party in power. It in no way reflects that those people are actually more likely to be correct at any given time or that they have a better understanding of how the world works.

    Without having fully read the study, though, it seems like these kids deserve some credit. This is a lot more sophisticated work than most college undergraduates are doing, and hopefully with time they get better and figuring out the obvious thing they need to control for. In the mean time, no one should be taking their conclusions into any sort of serious consideration in their own analysis of how the world works.

    1. That should read “obvious things”

    2. “these kids deserve some credit. This is a lot more sophisticated work than most college undergraduates are doing”

      That’s not saying much.
      Tons of kids labor away in labs trying to produce data that is publishable. The majority don’t reach that. If they cut corners by relying on subjective interpretation, neglecting controls, and poorly defining their parameters, then their work will rightfully be ignored and criticized. The same applies here.

    3. They get zero credit from me unless I get to see the “predictions” they looked at, and I get to judge whether those are actual predictions or weasel-worded wafflings, and get to judge whether they came “true”.

      I’m not going to take anyone’s word on it that Krugman is a font of wisdom and accuracy, because I’ve read his bullshit-packed columns. The man is delusional about how economics works. He continues to believe Keynesian stimulus improves the economy.

      1. I would also like to see the objective way in which they came up with “representative samples” of pundits’ predictions.

  15. After I correctly predicted the 2008 correction, I made a list of doomsday predictions before I left grad school. Only one looks to be coming true: Dust Bowl in 2011.

    However, I am not a complete permabear – I did purchase Palladium in 2009 and resell it at three times the purchase price in 2010.

    1. I did predict the LP would get a candidate in congress in 2010. This turned out to be wrong, but in my mind I would say Rand Paul is “close enough”.

  16. McArdle does a nice take-down of the study.

    Besides pointing out that any random prediction process will produce bell curve results that look pretty much like what mutual fund managers and pundits achieve, she notes that the study methodology itself is flawed (different sample sizes, no comparability of data points, etc.). And, of course, there is the difficulty created by treating all predictions as having the same value – a prediction in early 2007 that that the Dem field was ripe for a dark horse, and Obama would be just that dark horse, is weighted the same as a prediction that Michelle Obama’s inaugural dress would receive favorable reviews.

    1. Dark horse? Raaaaaaaaaaacist!

  17. Liberals care about facts and conservatives don’t. Pretty simple.

    1. Please don’t feed the troll.

      1. dose teh truth hurt suger?

        1. Please stop feeding this one as well.

        2. not me

          1. Here trolly trolly trolly. Got some Sarah Palin links for ya!

    2. That, or neither side cares about facts and the study focused on a time period in which liberals happened to be hoping for the things that were actually on the horizon.

      My guess is that many of the “conclusions” drawn by Krugman during that year were very similar to what Peter Schiff was saying at the same time. The difference is that Krugman was saying it because he wanted people to believe it so that they’d vote for a Democrat, and Schiff was saying it because he had thoughtfully considered the facts in the context of his mostly accurate world view.

      1. Regardless, liberals care about facts and conservatives don’t, on the whole. If you can believe that humans and dinosaurs coexistent, you can believe anything.

        1. If you can believe that world war two ended the depression, you can believe anything.

          1. Well it certainly wasn’t a free market that did it.

            1. So the market was less free after FDR died?

              The easing of regulations during and after ww2 in the labor market would disagree with you.

            2. re Tony|5.4.11 @ 12:19PM|#

              “Well it certainly wasn’t a free market that did it.”

              I suppose we were rescued by eating and deliberately destroying national economic seedcorn as espoused by Keynes, Hoover, FDR and their twit minions?

        2. If you can believe that humans and dinosaurs coexistent, you can believe anything.

          I saw a crow today.

          I am human and the crow is a dinosaur and in order for me to see it it and myself have to exist at the same time.

          Of course i am not a conservative and you are not a liberal so what the fuck is your point?

          1. You know what I mean. My point is that given the ridiculous bullshit conservatives tend to believe, it might be prudent to be skeptical of their economic policy ideas.

            1. And once again, Tony fails at logic. There’s really no hope.

              Let’s flip this around, so maybe you can understand. If I pick the most pitifully wrong idea that a Democrat, any Democrat, holds and tear it to pieces, this has absolutely no bearing on the whether any of the other ideas expressed by Democrats are true or false.

              1. It’s not about picking one thing, it’s about a consistent pattern of being wrong, even about the most basic elementary school subjects.

                1. Once again, complete and total failure of logic. If a person says A, B, and C, and A and B are wrong, it says absolutely nothing about the truth of statement C. To suggest C is wrong because the person is wrong on A and B is a form of ad hominem.

                  Your hatred has made you blind.

                  1. No. It has made him a liberal genius. If you can’t see it, you must be a conservative moron.

            2. My point is that given the ridiculous bullshit conservatives tend to believe, it might be prudent to be skeptical of their economic policy ideas.

              You believe in some fairy tale Keynesian economic theory yet also believe that gays should be able to serve in the military and should be allowed to marry.

              Should I think your ideas about equal rights for gays are hog wash because your economics are bunk?

              I think the comparison is very apt as both the conservatives with their economic ideas and your ideas about gay rights borrow heavily from libertarian (classical liberal) theory.

              They are right when they are right just as you are right when you are right.

              1. See, there’s no hope, since there is no basis of fact. You don’t disbelieve in Keynesian principles because they’re proven wrong, but because they contradict the dogma to which you are attached and won’t give up no matter how many times it IS proven wrong.

                1. I’m pretty sure that 800 bilion of “stimulus” spending PROVED Keynesian theory as wrong as two boys holding hands in church. Now, you may think that the stimulus was a rousing success and that may be your truth, but by any objective measure the stimulus FAILED. And you come back with “Oh well, we didn’t spend enough”, or “it wasn’t implemented in the right way”, or even “most of it was tax giveaways for Republicans” (I love that one by the way) but it still would change the fact that – according to the objective facts that you profess to worship – you couldn’t be more wrong even if your name was W. Wrongey Wrongenstein.

                2. You mistake economic success for the feeling one gets in his stomach when he’s done nothing more than just consumed yet more of his seedcorn.

                3. Keynesian principals have been successfully disproved by the Austrian School since they were first posited. Dozens upon dozens of authors have done so, but you gotta hand it to Keynes: it empowers those in the business of consolidating power & money at the expense of individual freedom, rights and liberty, so he was elevated to court economist status.

                  I’m sure you’re quick to knock the whole “bailing out wall street bankers” thing. Don’t you know that they and Keynes are bedfellows? (Of course you do, but you hold onto your love of Fabian Socialism so firmly that you accept that buttocks raping of “the people” so you can keep the redistributionista trough full.)

                4. Please, prove it wrong once. We’ll all change our minds.

                  1. I don’t have time to educate you when it’s available at your fingertips. And moreover, nor is this a venue to engage in the deper subject of the reality that Keynes is complete and utter rubbish, and has been so since he first spouted off his theories.

                    Google “Rothbard on Keynes” and then “Mises on Keynes”, “Hayek on Keynes” and you will find hundreds of linked articles and do like the rest of us and educate yourself.

                    1. Sorry, I was replying to Tony’s comment upthread:

                      You don’t disbelieve in Keynesian principles because they’re proven wrong, but because they contradict the dogma to which you are attached and won’t give up no matter how many times it IS proven wrong.

                      Threaded comments made it look otherwise.

            3. Post Marlok and Corning’s responses in logic, the scene suddenly fades to nightfall.

              Crickets: Chirp. Chirp. Chirp.

              1. I thought that I was making the point that Keynesianism was totally wrong and had been disproved. I must admit I am confused – and it all started with that seedcorn comment!!!

            4. You know what I mean. My point is that given the ridiculous bullshit conservatives tend to believe, it might be prudent to be skeptical of their economic policy ideas.

              So, because some conservatives believe in ridiculous bullshit like creationism, it then logically follows that one must be skeptical about their free market economic policies and instead accept the ridiculous socialist economic bullshit leftists tend to believe in?

              That would be like a conservative saying that because leftists believe in ridiculous bullshit about economics, one should be skeptical about their views on the WoD or gay rights or anything else that at least some of them actually ARE good at.

              1. Hm… if only we could find a set of people who aren’t creationists but also believe in free market economic policies, since their very existence would show Tony’s argument to be bullshit…

              2. No, liberals are mostly right across the board.

                But there’s no point in trying to convince you guys.

                I mean, even though it’s painfully obvious that the ONLY reasonable interpretation of post-crash events is that the stimulus worked but that there wasn’t enough to fill the hole that was created. What else is there? It certainly didn’t cause a worse crash. It did just about what Keynesians would predict it did at that dollar amount.

                1. “There’s no point in trying to convince you guys,” is a pretty poor excuse for not making an argument.

                  1. Also, nobody thinks the stimulus caused a worse crash. Most everyone agrees it had some positive effect on the economy – the question is whether the benefits justify the expense. To decide that, you have to make an argument about what would have happened without the stimulus, and the evidence isn’t clearly on either side. You act like it’s self-evident, though, with your smug ‘liberals are mostly right across the board’.Well, you would think that, wouldn’t you, being a liberal?

                  2. Hidalgo, it’s “painfully obvious”. It’s “the ONLY resonable interpretation”.
                    “What else is there?”

                    I’m getting dizzy from all this question begging.

                2. I mean, even though it’s painfully obvious that the ONLY reasonable interpretation of post-crash events

                  Whenever I meet a Keynesian on the Internet, I ask them to explain a few things to me about economics so I know where the debate will proceed. So, here we go.

                  -If World War II ended the Great Depression, then why didn’t aggregate demand shift to the left again and cause another economic downturn when Harry Truman discharged millions of soldiers and drastically cut back military spending? I’ll remind you that 1946 was a year of huge private sector growth, and that consumer spending in the late ’40s didn’t even come closer to matching what federal spending used to be.

                  -Explain the relevancy of the Philips curve in the face of stagflation and the optimal money supply theory.

                  -Do interest rates have a rationing function, or are they what Keynes said they were, arbitrary?

                  -If recessions are a general glut (i.e. negative shift in AD), then why do many industries thrive during economic downturns?

                  -If recessions are due to a fall in consumer spending then why are “the cluster of errors” in capital and capital-intensive industries?

                  -How did the depression of 1920, one of the worst in the history of America, end so quickly despite the lack of fiscal stimulus and the incredibly delayed response of the Federal Reserve?

                  -How do you reconcile Keynes own belief that his economic policies were best suited for a fascist government with your own support of a democratic republic?

                3. It did just about what Keynesians would predict it did at that dollar amount.

                  That is a blatant lie. The constructors of the stimulus package predicted that it would keep unemployment below 8%.

                  1. Note that he included the weasel words “just about”.

                    Sort of like McCain “just about” won the 2008 election.

                4. It did just about what Keynesians would predict it did at that dollar amount.

                  No it isn’t. They predicted 5% unemployment and +2% GDP for 2010.

                  Do you not remember the summer of recovery that never came?!?!

                  What sort of fucked up selective memory do you have?

                  1. No it isn’t. They predicted 5% unemployment and +2% GDP for 2010.

                    I had no idea that they were that optimistic about GDP growth and unemployment. Could you please provide a link?

                5. “I mean, even though it’s painfully obvious that the ONLY reasonable interpretation of post-crash events is that the stimulus worked but that there wasn’t enough to fill the hole that was created. What else is there?”

                  CALLED IT! Who KNEW that the lib argument would be “It wasn’t enough!” THIS GUY. Thanks for reinforcing the stereotype shriek – you are one sad motherfucker. Maybe you can get some tutoring from Paulie Krugnuts on how to be economically illiterate. Truly – what else is there? Ever hear of “animal spirits” dickhead?

        3. If you can believe that humans and dinosaurs coexistent, you can believe anything.

          So The Flintstones was conservative propaganda?

      2. Schiff got things wrong, he predicted inflation and we got deflation. Mish (a different austrian who actually understood the concept that private debt markets are bigger) predicted deflation, and we got deflation, but he was wrong when there was an inflationary “recovery”, because he didn’t believe that government was strong enough at all to pump up the economy, or possibly because he believed the deflationary contraction would be complete.

        As for Krugnuts, well, he’s just krugnuts.

      3. But conservatives rejected Schiff for the Wrasslin’ Lady in the CT primary!

        1. But conservatives rejected Schiff for the Wrasslin’ Lady in the CT primary!

          Is anyone one here even defending conservatives, or are you just jumping at shadows?

          1. He believes conservatives include anyone who doesn’t:
            fall on your knees and hear the liberal voices.
            Obama divine. The night Obama won.

    3. Liberals care about facts

      Qaddafi still sits in power in Libya and unemployment is still above 9% and the earth has not warmed .2 degrees centigrade over the last decade.

      1. and bin laden is dead, dead, dead

  18. This junk study doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as Phililp Tetlock’s comprehensive study.

    1. This junk study

      The fact that they gave a press release before releasing the data makes me think you are correct.

      In my new left wing study I give you a -1 for accuracy.

      You are just not left wingy enough to be accurate.

  19. The period of study ranges all the way from September 2007 to December 31, 2008. This period is marked by a resurgence of progressivism.

    Of course liberal cheerleaders fared better than conservative cheerleaders in their predictions of which team would win victories during this period. Few cheerleaders openly predict victory for the opposing team.

    Also, the short-term time horizon naturally favors progressives. A long-term time horizon is inherent to genuine conservatism. The genuine liberal/progressives intellectuals have explicitly dismissed conservative concerns about the long term effects of their policies, arguing that “in the long term we’re all dead”.

    It’s no surprise, then, that liberal/progressive pundits score betten in the Hamilton study.

    1. betten = better

      1. I figured you were slipping into Middle English.

  20. Krugnuts was right that the economy would go bad in 2007/2008

    Of course he predicted it would go bad every year(3 to 4 times a year) from 2000 to 2008.

    Also Krugnuts is a leftist not a liberal.

    1. I have seriousy doubts that the people in the study went through every single opinion expressed by Paul Krugman for even one year.

      I could go through one column by Krugman and find 200 different assertions. These guys likely simplified a one page column down to: “Economy will get worse” and then checked the S&P500; for that day or something.

      1. I would like to take credit for the adjective “seriousy”

        1. I give your new word Seriousy the best new word of the year award and in my new left wing study I give it a 5 for accuracy.

  21. Left wing president and its pundits predict Libya will fall in a few days.

    One month later left wing study finds that left wing pundits are more accurate then everyone else….and Libya still has not fallen.

    1. no they said the US lead would only last a few days which was correct

      1. Yes, NATO took over, which is of course, unaffiliated with the US. And then the US was again asked to provide its unique capabilities, not lead.

  22. I paged thru the College Study PDF released and I’m amazed at the obvious flaws in methodology, very high school-ish and typical leftist tripe with no relevance to reality. I’m also amazed at how many leftist seem to post their droppings on the Reason site.

    1. to a wingnut everything to the left of hitler looks like lefty tripe n droppings

      1. Hitler was a National Socialist so it is actually pretty difficult to get to the left of him.

  23. After Krugman, the most accurate pundits were Maureen Dowd of The New York Times, former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ? all Democrats and/or liberals. Also landing in the “Good” category, however, were conservative columnists Kathleen Parker and David Brooks, along with Bush Administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.

    Without seeing the data points I can only speculate where you went wrong. You likely did not appreciate the extent that Krugman hedges his bets. For instance, when he claimed the stimulus was too small. This isn’t a predicative assertion on his part but a hedge that given his underlying Keynesian economic reasoning should not have been necessary at all. If he was consistent in theory and practice, he would have put his money on the stimulus being an unqualified success leading to the most robust growth in the history of this nation. When you add up all the fiscal and monetary measures thrown at the problem, the Bush rebate stimulus, the first bank bailout in the Spring of ’08, TARP I, TARP 2, QE, and the stimulus you have the most concetrated attempt at a Keynesian stimulus in human history that dwarfs any other. Yet, Krugman chose to hedge his bet on its success. What does that tell you?

    1. Yet, Krugman chose to hedge his bet on its success. What does that tell you?

      That Krugman likes to be a doctor who isn’t responsible for any of his prescriptions.

    2. Its called playing both sides. The crux of all of their rejoinders when they are WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG (see: shrike, above) is “It wasn’t enough!!” Oh. gun control didn’t work? Made crime worse you say? Because we didn’t implement it enough! Oh, the stimulus didn’t pull us into a thriving recovery? Because we didn’t spend it enough! Oh, spending more dollars per student per year since 1965 hasn’t had ANY effect on test scores or graduation rates? Well, then CLEARLY we aren’t spending enough!!!

      Fucking calling liberals one-note johnnies is an insult to true retards like John Davidson.

  24. I bet their study was right, just because leftist commentators are more likely to predict increases in government power. Getting that right post 9-11 is like seeing a bucket teetering on the edge of a ledge and betting that it would fall.

    In other words, leftist commentators have been getting their wish list slowly but surely since 9-11, so they will be right most of the time.

    However, that is correlation, not causality: They are right more often because of external factors, not because they are more intelligent. (Of course, most political commentators would lose to slab of wood on any given dat.)

  25. I predict professor gave them an A+

  26. This is one of the best sentences ever written at this blog:

    “Addendum: Megan McArdle, the business and economics editor for The Atlantic, poohs-poohs the statistical analysis of the study. ”

    … to be as polite as possible, I will simply say that, with a few notable exceptions, Megan McCardle is frequently proven correct.

  27. The only way to do this “analysis” properly is not only to do it over time, but to force the participants to wager large sums of money on the results. Most of the “prognosticating” being done is more like cheerleading, none of these folks are really interested in the prediction so much as the effect their prediction will have on the results.

  28. As requested, here’s the link to our data set. It should be at the bottom of the ExSum:

  29. In case there are latecomers to this debate, such as myself, I wanted to report some of the findings from the study.

    First, I want to thank Evan for engaging the community here. I’m a research psychologist myself and have published in the political area. The internet is never a good place for serious academic debate; and I respect your youthful enthusiasm for engaging the people here.

    That said, you should understand that Krugman is famous in these parts for making ridiculous predictions, so I – along with the others – were quite shocked to see this report. In short, I knew something was wrong with your data. When I looked it up, it wasn’t hard to find the reason.

    For the record, these are some of the predictions Krugman made (full text available from Evan’s link above – all from 2008):

  30. “[the home value recovery process] took more than five years…if the current housing slump runs the same schedule, we won’t be seeing a recovery until 2011 or later.”

    This isn’t a prediction at all. This is a math test; and incidentally he failed… 2008+5 = 2013, not 2011.

    “If the current slump follows the typical modern pattern, the economy will stay depressed well into 2010 if not beyond.” – again, this isn’t a prediction, it’s a tautology.

    “[This slow economy will leave] plenty of time for the public to start blaming the new incumbent and punish him in the midterm elections.” – This is a prediction, but one that everyone knows. Midterm elections hurt the party in power.

    “Proponents of expanded [financial] regulation…will have to contend with very well-financed opposition from the financial industry.” – “Predicting” that industries fight against their own regulation is also not a surprise.

    “Whoever receives the Democratic presidential nomination will receive labor’s support in the general election.” – To a Democrat this might sound like a prediction, so I’ll translate it into conservative speak and you can see it, “Whoever gets the Republican nomination will receive the Evangelical’s support.”

  31. “[President Obama] will face a barrage of misleading attacks from conservatives who oppose universal health care in any form.” – All conservative arguments are “misleading” to liberals. And no one opposes universal health care, they oppose government run universal health care. This was scored as an accurate prediction with two words: “Death Panels.”

    “Raising fuel efficiency is something we can and will do.” – A true prediction, but again that’s been the trend for 60 years.

    “[the economy] will probably get considerably worse before they get better” – True, but easy.

    “Once the economy is on the road to recovery, the wheeler-dealers will be making money again–and will lobby hard against anybody who tries to limit their bottom lines.” – “lobbiests will lobby” is hardly a prediction.

    “If and when [a German recession] happens, Mrs. Merkel and her ministers will surely reconsider their position [about giving aid to other EU countries]” – Not bad.

    “when Gen. David Petraeus testifies before Congress: he’ll assert that the surge has reduced violence in Iraq–as long as you don’t count Sunnis killed by Sunnis, Shiites killed by Shiites, Iraqis killed by car bombs and people shot in the front of the head.” – This was coded as true, but the report the data linked to contained the following line, “Civilian deaths of all categories, less natural causes, have also declined considerably, by over 45% Iraq-wide since the height of the sectarian violence in December.” This was false.

  32. I get the sense that conservatives were harshly scored as well. The worst prognisticator according to the study was Cal Thomas. Here’s his first 2 predictions:

    “What will they do when [Bush] leaves office? That’s easy, they’ll give [ the Nobel Peace Prize] to Clinton.” – I’m not sure this isn’t a joke.

    “If voters were to embrace victory and not defeat, they would likely reject the Democratic presidential nominee…” – This was coded as false because Obama was elected. Note that this statement is also not a prediction… maybe the voters embraced defeat!

    He had three other predictions that were all derived from one statement about the next terrorist attack not coming in airplanes, but would rather be in a populated ground target, sometime soon, and so on.. That prediction was fractured into 4 separate predictions and each coded false.

    One was…”the next terrorist attack: coming soon” – This is coded as false because the next terrorist attack happened 18 months later. The definition of “soon” is assumed to be less than that.

    “with expectations so high, if obama is elected president and his party maintains, perhaps expands, its margins in the house and senate, he will have to immediately solve at least some of the problems he has promised to solve, lest his opinion polls take a dive and cynicism makes a comeback.” – Why this is coded as false I have no idea. The reference simply says, “Both actually occurred.”

  33. Anyway, I’m not here to cherry-pick data; and I know that scientifically you need to make a standard and apply it uniformally even if it’s unreasonable in a few cases, e.g. it wouldn’t be right to throw out “obvious” predictions because that allows a lot of coder bias. But the truth of statements here appears to have a bias as well. You really needed to have 2 conservatives and 2 liberals working on each case or something like that.

    Regardless, I’m able to sleep at night again because I don’t see any evidence here that Krugman can predict what socks he’ll be wearing tomorrow, let alone what will happen in the economy.

    Evan, as some personal advice from an aging researcher, this was a fun study and I’m glad you did it. The press is exciting as well, but keep in mind that the thrill of press coverage should be secondary to doing good quality work. Also, if you’re interested in political research still, you need to be able to model both sides arguments well. Take a cue from Jonathan Haidt.

    Good luck in your future research!

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