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Tue Nov 20, 2012, 04:06 PM

My own rational market hypothesis

Not really news. But it does put it in the useful frame of: how does one change the incentive structure for journalism and punditry? Because until that happens the right wing noise machine will continue to have legs and cause havoc.

A couple things I read the past few days:

(1) PPP (a Democratic pollster) did the best of any pollster in terms of predicting the 2012 election. In fact, the polls they did themselves finished first out of 28 sets of polls, the ones they did for Daily Kos finished second. That seems pretty remarkable to me.

(2) Models that predict higher rates of global warming (up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit) have been performing better than other models for climate change thus far.

I’ve filed this under The Dirty Fucking Hippies Were Right, but that’s not really my point here. I believe in some kind of rational market for national dialogue, where pundits et al. generally behave in the way that is most beneficial for their careers. Right now, that generally means either taking a far-right Fox News position or a “both sides do it” position.

This incentivizes predictions that are more friendly to the right. A pollster who believes, correctly, that more Democrats than Republicans will vote in a presidential election registration will call an election more accurately but will also be pilloried for TEH LIBRUL BIAS. I suspect that even within the world of climate science, which is probably more insulated from this than establishment media, the same principle applies albeit to a lesser extent.

I tend to believe that nearly everything works this way. That doesn’t mean liberals will always be right, because predictions are hard, especially about the future, but it does mean that nearly everything we hear through any kind of official channel is slanted to the right relative to what a straight analysis would be.


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