Firedoglake has this up on the *cough* research of Rogoff and Reinhart.
From one of the commenters, letsgetitdone at 16:
I think, finally, that the RR study is an example of the corruption of social science in modern times. I believe that one can show that the study was not just guilty of calculation errors and errors of omission, but that these must be seen as part of a pattern of systematic bias that permeated their whole process of inquiry beginning with their selection of the problem, moving through every decision point in implementing the study, and ending with their evaluation of their evidence and their writing of the result. They made no attempt to do a scientific study maximizing fair comparison of alternative theories having policy relevance, but instead prepared what was essentially a legal brief supporting austerity policies and the Pete Peterson line. The social costs of what they did are strewn all over the globe. See this recent post at DailyKos.
I agree that if R and R purposely left out data (and the concensus is that they did), then what they did was fraudulent and a deliberate attempt to persuade public opinion towards austerity.
This should be *sounding the bells* as to how very, very important our public education system is….from kindergarten through four year colleges….the public needs to be able to understand this stuff in the most basic terms. And the financial gurus purposely make it difficult to understand for the Jane/John Does of the U.S., to give themselves the upper hand. Like I said about the university I attended, they made math more difficult than it had to be –the only conclusion one can come to is that they were doing it on purpose to “weed out” people. This, in turn, means fewer graduates with Math degrees to compete in the job market, enabling them to be paid more $$. It also means that financial gurus can bullshit people and no one will be the wiser. When the Wall St. meltdown happened, there were econ people who could not figure the mess out…how are Jane/John Doe supposed to?
With the Liberal Arts degree, I have a basic understanding of statistics from a political science class. We were taught to look for the reasons behind conclusions of research. Who funded it? What other work have these researchers done (looking at other work for biases)? Who benefits from it (will a corporation use the data as an asset or use the data to knock down a competitor)? If it was a poll, we were taught that anything more than 2% plus or minus of the margin of error was a flawed study–the questions asked were biased in some way or not thorough enough.
That is why one should always question absolutes in science or absolute truth that anyone espouses. If more people were less intimidated and asked “why” and to say “I don’t understand” to someone trying to buffalo them, the financial gurus and others like them would not be able to get away with the stuff that they do. Thank God for people like Herndon and the others who seek the truth and are not afraid to speak out.
I followed the link that letsgetitdone had in the comment to dailykos,
which in turn had the link to the cepr.net website.
This is a big deal because politicians around the world have used this finding from R&R to justify austerity measures that have slowed growth and raised unemployment. In the United States many politicians have pointed to R&R’s work as justification for deficit reduction even though the economy is far below full employment by any reasonable measure. In Europe, R&R’s work and its derivatives have been used to justify austerity policies that have pushed the unemployment rate over 10 percent for the euro zone as a whole and above 20 percent in Greece and Spain. In other words, this is a mistake that has had enormous consequences.
Minor quibble—as everyone is leaning to, this was not a “mistake”…but a deliberate attempt to misconstrue data to suit their political ideology, and that of Pete Peterson.