Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Who is econdataus and why should we believe him?

Yesterday, I received an interesting question from Michael Fremer who has a blog at this link. Following is his question:


I sent my right wing friends some of your analyses and they gulp, but then respond "Who is econdataus and why should we believe him?"


And i can't answer that...


Can you?


My reply (with a few edits for readability) was as follows:


In regards to "who is econdataus", you can tell them that I am nobody they would know. I am a math major and software engineer. As I mention in my profile, I became interested in U.S. budget and economic matters back in 1992, the first time that I remember the debt becoming a major issue in a presidential election. Around that time, I became aware of more and more cases where public political discussion seemed to be based on bad or incomplete data. Hence, my first goal was to build a site with carefully compiled and sourced data in the areas in which I was interested. This gives me (and hopefully others) a ready source to point to when engaged in political discussions online. Giving the data and sources allows others to verify the data and judge the veracity of the sources.


The main analysis that I initially did was just to graph the data and list some fairly straightforward points (such as here). However, I later began to write an occasional analysis on an area in which I was interested (such as here) and at someone's suggestion, I started this blog. I did my best to keep it non-partisan. At this link, for example, I critiqued my own initial analysis stating "the difference in job growth between the two parties does greatly lessen, if not disappear, if one looks at job growth over entire business cycles". In any case, I truly believe that the country needs at least two strong parties to function at its best. And I do not believe that one party is inherently better than the other.


Regarding "why should we believe him?", I would say they should base their belief strictly on the data and their trust in the sources from which that data came. Regarding my analysis of the data, they should believe that only to the extent that it makes sense to them. As I mentioned, I am a math major and software engineer, not a professional economist. I have, to my knowledge, no public reputation, positive or negative. If they desire that, they will have to look elsewhere. The problem, of course, is that many of those reputable experts disagree. Hence, I would suggest that they demand sources for any data with which they are presented and verify it. I can't count the number of times I've come across data that is cherry-picked or just plain wrong. The only way to determine this is to ask for the source and verify the data.


R. Davis


To this, I would just add that they should question any analysis that doesn't totally make sense. In fact, it's probably best to question even those that do! As such, I am more than happy to answer any questions on my analyses or data.

About Me

I became interested in U.S. budget and economic matters back in 1992, the first time that I remember the debt becoming a major issue in a presidential election. Along with this blog, I have a website on the subject at http://www.econdataus.com/budget.html. I have blogged further about my motivations for creating this blog and website at this link. Recently, I've been working on replicating studies such as the analysis at this link.

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