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No Conspiracy Theory — Just Data

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On November 29, 2007 @ 11:53 am In Data Analysis,Psychology,Taxes and Policy | Comments Disabled

One of the things people do not understand is a basic truth about the BLS [1], BEA [2], Commerce Department [3], and other government data sources. I get constant emails warning me of the dark cabals manipulating the official releases.

While I have been critical over the years of the models and
methodologies employed, I do not believe this is any grand conspiracy.

Sure, the headlines are often misleadingly spun, but the data is all there for whoever wants to peruse it. Indeed, if you strap on your green visor, you can find all of the data releases for Inflation, Unemployment, GDP, New Home Sales, Durable Goods, etc. The non-seasonally adjusted non hedonics, no substitutions data is all right there. You need only bring a critical eye and a dollop of skepticism, and you can usually deduce the real meaning beneath the spin.   

In fact, the Truth is actually much worse than any conspiracy: Its as if the government is saying:

"Conspiracy theory? Ha! We don’t need to bother fabricating anything — we dump ALL of the data to the web each month, and that site gets less traffic than a dog’s blog in Kuala Lumpur.

We just think you couch potatoes are too lazy, too dumb, too easily distracted by other nonsense to really look at the actual data. Heavy lifting? Actual thinking? Working to figure out what is really going on? Don’t make us laugh!"

And you know what? They’d be right.

Even most conspiracy theories are just a lazy approach to the data . . .


Article printed from The Big Picture: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog

URL to article: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2007/11/no-conspiracy-theory-just-data/

URLs in this post:

[1] BLS: http://www.bls.gov/

[2] BEA: http://bea.gov/

[3] Commerce Department: http://www.commerce.gov/

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