Thursday, August 13, 2009

Conspiracies and Economic Statistics

Menzie Chinn at EconBrowser writes,
In my view, the reason why so many hold onto these views is because it's so much easier to remain ignorant, and leap to the conspiracy view, than to do the hard work to understand why the statistics are imprecise measures of economic concepts, and why they are revised over time. After all, the former requires nothing more than taking somebody's word, the latter entails reading the supporting documentation, comprehending what the terms used mean, and applying some basic math and statistics skills...
In other words the reason conspiracy theories attract a nice crowd of supporters is because people are "rationally ignorant." Being informed takes a lot of effort, and it's easy to believe a plausible lie (along with a dose of paranoia that the other side is lying) than it is to be bothered with the facts.

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