On Sunday, I published a humorous correlation about improving economic data and increased Birther stories. It was a fun little story for the weekend.

A few people pointed out some issues right away. The “Birth Control” articles of late likely generated lots of hits on the word “Birth.” Contraception, not Birther related; So too did the many articles on President Obama releasing his birth certificate last year.

I ran these by Floyd Norris, who re-crunched the numbers — and once correcting for those, the correlation went away.

Floyd writes:

“I made a simple – but critical – mistake on my birther analysis. I failed to exclude articles on birth control, which of course are plentiful over the past few weeks.

Attached is a revised spreadsheet over the past several months.  (birther). In the early months, there were virtually no birth control articles in the count, but they dominate it in 2012.

This, the thesis in the original message has not been proven.

I should have known better. The first Nexis search I ever saw, back in the 1980’s at Barron’s, was by a colleague who was preparing an article arguing the then new RICO law would be used against businesses more than against racketeers.  To see what others had written, he asked Nexis for articles about RICO, and got a zillion – a problem since in those days Nexis charged by the article it found, not by the search.  His next search was for RICO without Puerto.

(Thanks for Barry Ritholtz for calling this to my attention.)

Thanks goes to TBP readers and Twitter followers who brought it to my attention.

Category: Data Analysis, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

17 Responses to “Update on Birther/Economic Correlation: Nevermind”

  1. [...] Update on Birther/Economic Correlation: Nevermind | The Big Picture Says: March 5th, 2012 at 1:31 pm [...]

  2. RW says:

    A good lesson in the need for inquiry refinement but all was not lost since the post brought the birthers out of the woodwork including a couple of TBP’s more notorious trolls.

    An empty toilet flush now and then can help to keep the drain open.

  3. VennData says:

    The far leftists at Big Picture caught in another Big Lie …this is a WAY, WAY bigger story that “Slutgate.” I’m typing “Kenya Kenya Kenya” into Bing all day long just to watch you Marxists get hoodwinked again!

    …or was it a Liberal TRICK! To get the real Americans to reveal their true feelings?! Here …through our comments? Oh you clever, clever, Lefties. …But if you’re so smart, why are all you Contraceptive-using, MSNBC-appearing, Buffett supporters? Ha. Got you there.

  4. Petey Wheatstraw says:


    That’s funny!

  5. rktbrkr says:

    Thats OK, I sent it to a few of my right wing friends who keep bombarding me with misstated stuff that doesn’t pass muster with Snopes, I’ll let them stew in these “facts” for a while.

    It reinforced my beliefs, thanks!

  6. PeterR says:

    My goodness, maybe everyone needs to slow down a bit?

    Why the impatience to Rush (Limbaugh) to judgment?

    Barry, I thought you were above this kind of fray?

  7. T_S says:

    Hey, “hats off” to Mr. Norris for admitting a mistake and BR for posting on this. Honesty & integrity fellas.
    Thanks very much!

    PeterR, if I may try to answer you. There are many of us out here that were once republicans,
    and are deeply disappointed with what passes for republican rhetoric these days. Rush
    is one person that many moderate republicans have a lot of trouble with. I hesitate to speak
    for BR, but I sense from his writings he is at least as disappointed with the current group of
    republicans as I am. This personally has contributed to my rush to judge Rush on more than one occasion.

  8. Petey Wheatstraw says:

    Limbaugh ia a character assassin and provocateur of the low brow set for more than 30 years. There has been no hurried judgement. He is a seething, oozing pustule of hatred, division, and dishonesty — and that’s being generous. His audience eats up the puss, because it sustains them.

  9. Petey Wheatstraw says:


    Thanks for the link — it should come in handy.

    I know a couple of Limbaugh devotees, so I guess I’m referring to them.

  10. Pantmaker says:

    Oh no… Bonddad is going to eviscerate you over this….just wait…a day or two at most….then he’ll post it…a scandal of factual misrepresentation at the Big Picture…Hussman, Mish, ECRI, Zero Hedge now Barry…at least your in good company. Ha! You’re a good man Barry and a creative thinker….even for a communist.

  11. gman says:

    Even when Barry is wrong he is still right. The “Birther” and “Birth Control” are for all practical purposes the same issue. A canard to distract from the issues at hand. These canards all started in about the same place for the same purpose.

  12. rktbrkr says:

    Limbaugh ia a character assassin and provocateur of the low brow set for more than 30 years. There has been no hurried judgement. He is a seething, oozing pustule of hatred, division, and dishonesty — and that’s being generous. His audience eats up the puss, because it sustains them.

    Come on Petey, tell us what you really think!

    I don’t listen to these guys much but I heard Michael Savage once or twice and he seemed to be the meanest of this subhuman subset of professional hate mongers.

  13. AtlasRocked says:

    Gman – the GOP is not behind it. That’s a lie – it’s radioactive political matter for them. Anyone bringing it up is labeled a racist. The finding that Obama’s Birth certificate is a fraud DOES NOT mean he isn’t a US citizen. It does mean the president, our national police chief, was part of felony crime event. And the chief prosecutor is now aware of it.

    In keeping with BR’s relentless pursuit of facts and data, and labeling anyone who does not do such a “fucktard”, you should a) Go on youtube and watch multiple forensics experts dissect this easily discernible fraud and 2) figure out why you think it’s a good idea for the chief of the nation’s police and the nation’s chief prosecutor to commit fraud and cover it up.


    BR: How very clever of them to post the birth announcement in the Hawaii paper 50 years in advance.

    This is the perfect example of a comment that is fucktarded.

  14. AtlasRocked says:

    How stupid, Barry. You go right back to the birther story – you are a birther now. You’ve become one of them.

    You are smart enough to know he could have created the fraudulent document for other reasons. I refuse to believe you are a moron.

    This is not about his announcement in the paper 50 years ago. Your nation’s chief of police has committed fraud. Your nation’s chief prosecutor is aware of it and a part of the cover up. You are a part of a fraud crime.

    If this were a bank investigating check writing fraud, and you were found to be covering up for the fraud, you would be criminally indicted. You are behaving, and documenting, that you are part of a criminal event. Where are your scruples?

    Where is your demand that our chief of police should NEVER be involved in a felony crime?


    BR: Seriously, its like reading a different language. Charlie Browns teacher speaking

  15. AtlasRocked says:

    When my teenage daughter used to get caught in a lie, she’d do the same thing – suggest I wasn’t making sense, and role her eyes, become condescending. You are behaving like a liar, Barry. I am not calling you a liar, I am saying you are acting like one.

    The equivalent of the watergate breakin has occured. The commitment of a crime by the nation’s chief of police has been documented on CBS news, it’s not a Fox story any more. You’re defending Nixon now. You’re making excuses for crime to be ok, trying to defend fraud from the nation’s chief of police and the nations chief prosecutor.

    CBS and the NY Times are also pointing out the chief of police’s foot dragging on incarcerating the crooks identified by the FCIC report. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/02/opinion/will-wall-street-ever-face-justice.html http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-57336046-10391709/behind-the-financial-crisis-a-fraud-investigator-talks/?tag=cbsnewsMainColumnArea.3

    These are not behaviors in a chief of police that can be tolerated in a nation heavily tilting toward lawlessness: We now have lax prosecution of crimes, and a commitment of a felony fraud crime on his resume. While you’re rallying the OWS supporters, he’s letting the crooks go. We have pattern of Nixonesque lawlessness clearly in play now. Are you sure you want to document that you’re a cheerleader for the lawless?


    BR: Again, I must confess that I haven’t the slightest clue WTF you are talking about.

    Exactly what are you accusing me of?