Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Tuesday Morning Catch-up Links

with 12 comments

* Fringe was right! Our cosmos was “bruised” in collisions with other universes. Now astronomers have found the first evidence of these impacts in the cosmic microwave background. We must destroy the other universe at once.

* Victory declared in American class struggle.

* “The strategic mistake of the decade”: Democrats should have let the filibuster die back in 2005.

* How the Bush administration destroyed the planet: honeybee edition.

* Climate Change: a web comic.

* James Clifford on “The Greater Humanities.”

* The assassination of Yogi Bear by the coward Boo-Boo.

* 13 awesome and awful pilots for sci-fi series we never got to see, including longtime sentimental favorite Heat Vision & Jack.

* Mapping Facebook.

* The picture above is from Emily’s great and prolific Tumblr blog, which posts something awesome every five minutes.

* And the New Yorker profiles the architect of all my dreams and nightmares, Shigeru Miyamoto. They had a really solid piece on fundamental flaws in the scientific method recently, too, but unfortunately it’s subscription-only.

12 Responses

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  1. The graphs in the “Victory Declared” link are just awful. There are lots of ways to accurately show the wealth distribution disparity in America. Having two graphs side-by-side that are made to appear similar, but are actually scaled completely differently (0-20ish on the first, 50-65ish on the second) does nothing to advance the conversation except give fuel to doubters.

    EMG

    December 14, 2010 at 11:27 am

  2. The mefi thread was pretty dismissive of that “Fundamental Flaws in the Scientific Method” article.

    Alex

    December 14, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    • Do you have a link? The claim that there was a “results bias” in scientific publishing made a lot of sense to me.

      gerrycanavan

      December 14, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    • Here it is. The basic point in the metafilter post is that scientific method is getting more and more precise while public response to scientific discoveries remains as overeager and non-comprehending as ever, which creates a discrepancy between, e.g., how effective doctors think drugs are and how effective the studies actually show them to be.

      Alex

      December 14, 2010 at 4:46 pm

  3. @EMG: What? The first part of the income graph says that 90% of the population earned less than 50% of the country’s income in 2007 and the second part says that 1% of the population earned 24%. The graph shows a roughly 25% drop in income share among the bottom 90% and a roughly 150% gain among the top 1% between 1960 and 2007. What exactly is the problem?

    Alex

    December 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm

  4. I completely agree that there’s a huge income disparity, but the graph (the figure, not captions in the figure) is way less than transparent by putting arbitrary cut-off points where they did. Also, by putting 0-20% for the top 1% on the top and 50-65% for the 90% on the bottom, it appears that the 1% of earners are higher than the 90% of earners, when that’s not the case. If you put both lines on the same graph, you would see 0-100% of income on the left and see that the top 1% was a huge portion of overall income, but that it was actually below the 90% (24<50).

    I think the facts (1% make half as much as 90%) are outrageous enough that a graph shouldn't be manipulated to make it look worse than it actually is – which is what I think they (someone – no source for the data) are doing here.

    If I get a chance, I'll mock up (with no data) what how this could look and how be mis-leading.

    EMG

    December 14, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    • @Alex
      Here’s what it could have looked like

      This would also make it relatively obvious, for instance, that while 1% are now responsible for 24% of income, that 9% make up the next 26% of income (those between $110k and $400k).

      I think all the facts are there (again, no source, but it passes the smell test for me). It’s the lopsided presentation that gets me.

      EMG

      December 14, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    • The fault doesn’t seem to be with the graph. It doesn’t seem in the least duplicitous to have two different graphs with two different scales. You may see it differently, but I didn’t for a second think, “Hey, I’m looking at two charts on the same scale of values.” All I looked at was change over time – 15% less of the income is going to the bottom 90% , 15% more is going to the top 1%. I’ve seen graphs like the one you’re envisioning – they’re all over the place. I don’t see why that’s so much more preferable to this.

      Alex

      December 14, 2010 at 8:07 pm

  5. I would be interested in knowing how this translates into wealth (rather than income). Given that the average wealth of black women is $5, I’m guessing the disparity may be even worse.

    Alex

    December 14, 2010 at 8:14 pm

  6. The whole point is that there are a lot of ways that would be better, including several you mentioned. My mock-up was just to illustrate they could do better with what they had already.

    I’d like to see the trend in median income (inflation adjusted) rather than percentage of overall wealth. Stratification of class (relative wealth) would be worse if absolute income was going up quickly for the 1% and stagnating or lessening for the lower 90%.

    As for defining wealth, it tends to correlate pretty well with income, but that issue comes up in looking for ways to tax. Property vs interest/capital gains vs income. What’s the “best” way? And how do you figure debt into wealth?

    EMG

    December 14, 2010 at 8:57 pm

  7. I also wonder if all these income graphs account for the fact that the wealthy are vastly better at hiding income than the poor.

    Alex

    December 14, 2010 at 9:11 pm

  8. I would be surprised if hidden income changed the overall disparity all that much. At the least, I would expect non-income wealth (specifically capital gains) to well outpace truly hidden (overseas) income.

    Another problem would be trying to differentiate between $50k a year with no debt, vs $50k a year with $50k student loans vs $50k with $50k in credit card loans. Even so, those differences would be minuscule compared to $110k vs $1 mil.

    EMG

    December 14, 2010 at 9:24 pm


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