How Those Crazy Studies Make the News

Both Honolulu Mother and Rocky Mountain Stepmom sent in posts about this article.

I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How.

by Honolulu Mother

We’ve all noticed how contradictory the conclusions from “scientific” studies in the news can be on many topics — what foods are good or bad, what type of exercise is effective or injurious, what parenting choices have good or bad effects. Sometimes this may be the result of a better understanding of a subject over time — surely the fact that eggs and butter, so reviled a generation ago, are now good for you again is an example of the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice. But most of the time, contradictions multiply and it’s never clear from the reporting what the studies were even based on.

Now a hero of our time has provided the explanation: it’s because the news media will publish any piece of crap study that sounds authoritative and has a headline-worthy conclusion, as outlined in the article linked above.

But notwithstanding the flaws in the study identified by its own author, I’m going to stick with his conclusion and make sure to get my chocolate every day. Because science!

by Rocky Mountain Stepmom

The article linked above is about the way science journalism works, or doesn’t work. One of its main points is that journalists are lazy. That resonated with me because of two work experiences I’ve had.

In 1983, I finished a Masters of Library and Information Studies degree at Berkeley. World’s easiest degree, but that’s not important right now. I had an internship at the KPIX news library. KPIX was and maybe still is the CBS affiliate in San Francisco. I got to see the local news produced every evening, and it was…startling. The reporters and producers just trolled popular magazines for stories they could regurgitate. I fetched Glamour magazine articles for the reporters to crib from. They stole from every conceivable source. It was disheartening.

My first job after library school was as an indexer for what was then Information Access Corp. (Remember Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature? It was like that.) We indexed popular magazines, trade magazines, and five newspapers: New York Times, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, and the Wall Street Journal. We sat in front of our Apple 2e computer and read every single article in the papers and assigned index terms. It was a very peaceful way to make a living. But one thing I learned very quickly was that the newspapers all stole from each other regularly. The same article, with just a few changes, would appear in all the papers, and no, those articles weren’t from UPI or AP. They were by-lined by staff writers. There was clearly no independent verification going on. See article, crib article, print article. Again, very distressing to naive little me. The worst was the “end of year wrap-up” stuff. You might as well just burn all the papers from about Dec. 10 to Jan 5, because unless Manhattan gets nuked, there will be NO actual news whatsoever.

Totebaggers, do you trust the news? What’s your preferred source? Are you as skeptical as you would like to be? Or do you tend to believe stuff just because it’s in print? And do you believe that chocolate can accelerate weight loss?


108 thoughts on “How Those Crazy Studies Make the News

  1. Do I trust the news? Depends on what it is that they are reporting. Brian Williams certainly hasn’t increased my confidence in it.

    Someone sent me this:

    Awesome, since all of my children entered the world via c-section. And then I looked at the actual “study.” It wasn’t even a study. It just looked at some past studies. No discussion of correlation v causation. No discussion of statistical significance. And no discussion on how many elective c-sections are performed in the US. But it makes a great headline!

  2. Regarding health news – I have become tainted over the years and hold with if you eat in moderation nothing is bad for you – too much of any food or food group has its effects. The biggest problem is as I age, what moderation looks like. At one point that was 2000-2200 calories a day, now its more like 1200-1500 with moderate exercise. I will say that I feel better when less processed foods make up a bigger portion of my diet. Exercise is the same way – I try to do some cardio, some strength and some flexibility training – a little bit of everything is better than putting all your eggs in one basket.

    In my former life, following the local/state political news was important; however, that tends to focus on who is doing/did what, when and where and how did people react vs scientific fact. I would say I am drawn to the news about science, but take it with a grain of salt. I browse through Scientific American, The Economist, NYT and WSJ for news, as well as my local paper for local information.

  3. I tend not to read any “you should eat this to lose weight” articles because I know most of them are bogus (but I do probably eat chocolate every other day). I am on a low information diet, I’ll read an article if one of ya’ll post it, but other than that I just don’t follow the news anymore except for financial/stock market stuff.

  4. I think the root of this is the pressue in academia that professors have to publish a certain number of articles. That’s what caused the insane growth in unscrupulous “academic” journals that are willing to accept any article for a fee.

  5. One part of my family seems to be highly influenced by these articles. They were reluctant to vaccinate their kids because of the Lancet article on the link between vaccines and autism which has since been disproved. Their kids did get the chicken pox and they were put through a lot of inconvenience which they did not expect. Now my SIL who is healthy and never had any health issues has started eating gluten free and not eating certain other foods. It is all because of these numerous and often conflicting articles.

  6. I’m horrified and not surprised simultaneously. As a scientist, I’m horrified that the press release used as the backbone of every article is what passes for “science” in the media. No wonder we have no credibility. As a scientist who’s read the scientific articles, their press releases, and media coverage, I’m not surprised. At all. The world is all about the “click bait”. And true science is not always sexy. Not every discovery is earth shattering, even though it may be important. I will never have an earth shattering discovery, but I know the work I do is vitally important to the coastal regions. It’s just not click bait.

    The issue is multifaceted. The “publish or perish” attitude DD wrote about, the time journalists have to turn around a story (one journalist I spoke with said less than 24 hours in some cases), and how media coverage is used by academia/institutions/researchers to gauge their own “importance” are just some of the facets. I think the only way to tackle it is go after each facet: take on predatory journals and shut them down, work with journalists to understand science (and vice verse), and get people/institutions to gauge themselves on everything, not just media.

    To get on my soapbox for a minute, doing science well isn’t easy. The article touched on that with discussion on p-values and statistics. Sadly, a good number of scientists don’t know how to use statistics properly. Because of that, many studies are flawed. Some flaws will kill the conclusions, others just make the conclusions less conclusive. This is why I firmly believe that researchers shouldn’t be looking for the “next big story” and pumping papers out quickly. I believe they should make sure their conclusions are conclusive and right. If it means taking longer to get papers out, so be it. But I have the luxury of saying that – my work is highly unlikely to be scooped. I don’t study things that are popular. I can’t imagine DH’s boss, who studies a well-funded and highly visible developmental disorder, saying the same thing. Especially when DH was crunching data on his parental leave.

    To answer the question – I skim headlines for stories that interest me. I try to keep up with current events. I hit BBC, CNN, Fox News, Huffington Post for those. I hit Science Daily for my science news.

  7. I tend to keep up with news in the following order: NYT,, occasionally CNN or Huffington Post, for celebrity news, and for longer articles if work is slow. :) I don’t put much stock in “New Study Shows That ______” since most of the time when you click through, the study does NOT say anything like what the headline was!!! I do eat chocolate just about every day.

  8. “The reporters and producers just trolled popular magazines for stories they could regurgitate.”

    The local news program I watch has advanced beyond that. They now have a hotline for viewers to call in (or email, or text, or use the web interface) stories.

    IMO, that’s an improvement. That station now features stories other than what I’d see in the local paper or the other local news shows.

  9. I get kind of annoyed when the “news” and talk shows just show the latest viral video or story from YouTube, Facebook, etc. and then talk about it. And then sometimes they even read Tweets about it. It’s like these programs are becoming more of a clearinghouse for what’s on social media than actual news. Of course, it saves me from wasting my internet time on the stories that have already made the “news.”

  10. I think the root cause of this regurgitation is that newspapers no longer have the money or the staff to research articles. A good example is the Miami Herald– once a really good newspaper, now a positive embarrassment.

    I think TV news, where folks are hired on looks, just doesn’t have the intellectual capability.

    I am increasingly finding that the best local news comes from either blogs or alternative newspapers.

    One of the best things, I think, about cable is that with so much being carried live, one can watch many events live and formulate his or her opinions in real time, unfiltered.

    (I am too amused about Jeb!. I just knew he’d use the proper spelling of his name in his campaign. I also have little doubt that he will be our next president because I don’t believe that women will vote for Hillary. I have noticed today that some of the more progressive blogs that I scroll through to get my local news are playing a bit with Jeb!’s name. A couple of them are now referring to him as “Jeb! Bush!” That one’s gotta hurt.)

  11. Off topic. Rhett, RMS and possibly others expressed interest in this volunteer program involving texting/emailing/phoning college kids who are foster children. They’ve delayed the start a few times, but they’re now starting training and applications now for the fall. The commitment is two semesters, 1 or 2 freshman/sophomores per volunteer and at least one communication per week. The email address is

  12. Correction: freshman students or students who are at risk of dropping/failing out. There’s some online training to be done, monthly support/training calls and an end-of-program survey. Also a background check and online application.

  13. There’s a relatively new writer at our regional paper covering the business/technology beat. He came to our office to get some background on a story. He took no notes and called one of our people a few days later to ask some questions that we had definitely covered in that meeting. When the story came out, it was all wrong! And I’ve seen 2 more stories he wrote since then, about subjects on which I have first-hand knowledge, where the headline and first few paragraphs sensationalize some tiny little piece of the whole picture and then the rest of the story contains quotes from his sources that basically dispute the headline. Of course, very few people will read past the first couple of paragraphs. So I’m guessing most of his other stories follow a similar pattern, and now I see that pattern in some of the major media outlets too. Don’t they have editors anymore, not just to check punctuation and spelling but to actually read the story?

  14. PTM – with about 1000 candidates on either side of the aisle, you are that sure Jeb! will be the next Pres? I ask this in all honesty. I haven’t bothered to look at each side’s candidates because I fear for my health if I do. I still believe he should drop Bush and just go as Jeb! though. It will appeal him to the next generation who are used to single named celebrities and the liberal use of characters (Ke$ha comes to mind… as do the slew of gamer names out there..).

  15. “Don’t they have editors anymore, not just to check punctuation and spelling but to actually read the story?”

    No. See PTM’s comment about reduction of staff. And if the writer did, how long would it take the editor to fact-check everything the writer wrote? And then check for consistency?

    And then there’s the question of headlines… who writes them? And how do they formulate them? I can say that a good portion of what I read online because of the headline has nothing to do with the headline, or the headline is completely wrong.

  16. I think the root cause of this regurgitation is that newspapers no longer have the money or the staff to research articles

    Except my long-winded anecdote was about how even in ’82-’83 the reporters weren’t actually doing any research or reporting.

    This is obviously not a really hot topic, so people should hijack at will. I think HM is traveling so she probably won’t check it.

  17. I’ve gone to a couple of lectures by this group…

    They aim to overcome the gap between journalists and scientists to make sure those chocolate headlines don’t happen. I’ve learned a lot from the journalists on how to frame my stories and how to present data. I hope the journalists have learned a lot from scientists on how we do science and why we aren’t always the easiest people to understand.

  18. ” I don’t believe that women will vote for Hillary.”

    I think a lot of women will vote for Hillary, starting with Hillary and Chelsea.

    But I recognize the possibility that many women will choose to vote for other candidates.

  19. Yeah, Rhode. I honestly believe Jeb! Bush! will be our next president. (The “Bush!” should be in italics, but I don’t know how to do that.) I think he has the money, one handsome son, and considers himself Latino. And again, I think Hillary will have a hard time attracting women voters when push comes to shove. I also think that Bernie Sanders will have great fun with Hillary.

    The speculation down here is that Marco is a stalking horse for Jeb! Bush!. One article suggests that it is like the old roller derby where a blocker gets out in front, takes all the hits and then the star player who has been enjoying the draft slings by him or her to win.

    And while Florida (unlike many other states) doesn’t allow politicians to run for two offices simultaneously, Marco doesn’t have to file to run for the senate until next spring, which should provide him with a nice parachute, although it might seriously piss off other republicans who are running for his seat simply because of his absence.

    I am listening to him as I type this. He is good, I have to admit, and he has never been thinner so he must really want this, but I remember him as governor and I shudder.

  20. “but I remember him as governor and I shudder.”

    I was hoping you’d comment… I lived there when he was governor and couldn’t leave fast enough. A few friends who were new teachers left at that time as well. They just couldn’t be a part of it. I have another teacher friend who is dying to get out, mostly because of the work he did to unravel education down there. I don’t think they’ll vote for him…

  21. The received wisdom about Jeb! was that he was the smart one, but then just recently he demonstrated that oops, no, he’s not. Apparently only Bush Père was brighter than a tree stump. And Jeb! is not nearly cute enough to really bring in the gals.

  22. I was a Hillary supporter last time, and although I would prefer a field without any Clintons or Bushes, and would prefer a younger Commander in Chief, I will support her again.

  23. If only for the contrast in accents.

    I also think that Sanders would win a surprisingly large % of the Fox News vote as they may be rabid right wing nuts, but they are first an foremost cranky old men and they like to stick together.

  24. I am really hoping that a better, viable candidate will beat Hillary in the primary, but when push comes to shove – I would absolutely vote Hillary over JEB! in the general election. To your point though PTM – Can Hillary count on “women” voting for her just because she’s a woman? No, I don’t think so – not a critical mass.

  25. I hope to vote for someone who neither Bush nor Clinton.

    Back to the original topic…A portion of our proceeds from several crops go to “commodity groups” whose purpose is to promote the commodity. A major part of the commodity groups’ mission is to combat misinformation in the media and to tell our side of the story. (Since we disagree with the message it is misinformation). There is an entire industry dedicated to pushing different messages to the media. Both sides hold events, cultivate media personalities, provide talking points, and have people at the ready to speak to the media.

    The message includes telling people how some crops promote wildlife habitat. Another message is that certain crops are not “culturally inappropriate luxury goods”. The “culturally inappropriate luxury goods” was a talking point from an environmental group a few years ago.

    As far as I can see, there is neither time nor incentive for a journalist to learn enough about their subject to evaluate the competing messages. I have seen reporters get stories completely wrong.

  26. I don’t know what to make of Rachel Dolezal, and when I read the philosophers’ statements, and listened to several “experts” give their analysis on TV, I still don’t know what’s up with her (or to be honest, understand a lot of what they are saying!). I think the point is that no one does. She decided to change her appearance and live as if she was a multiracial woman, but she isn’t.

    No one knows why she did this except for Rachel, and she doesn’t seem to be talking.

  27. I don’t think Hillary has the personality to win. She just isn’t that likable, and she has baggage, and she’s an insider, and the Democrats are divided between the low-information voters who aren’t angry like they were in 2008, so they can sit this one out, and those who are overconfident since Obama won twice, and will make Hillary promise a little too much from the Sanders/Krugman wing.

    It’s hard to win third terms, and Hillary is not going to be the one to do it.

  28. Milo,

    The thing is Hillary isn’t running against the second coming of Ronald Reagan c. 1984.

  29. Hillary, has baggage? Jeb! is running as Jeb! because his last name is such a huge negative.

  30. I wonder which 6 of the original 13 Hillary is ignoring, and what the point of that is.

  31. She just isn’t that likable, and she has baggage, and she’s an insider

    Certain grumpy middle-aged white women like her, and thought it was her turn in 2008, and think it’s REALLY her fucking turn now.

  32. I’ll probably vote for Hillary. She is smarter than Jeb, but a bit too hawkish for my tastes.

  33. I don’t think it will be Jeb. I think it will be Kasich-Rubio. That gets them OH and FL off the bat.

  34. I did think it should have been Hillary’s turn in 2008 but I feel that moment passed. The turn of events in 2008 favored Obama. It all depends on what 2016 looks like.

  35. I don’t think it will be Kasish-Rubio. I am not entirely sure they would get either state. It could be, though. My prediction is Jeb! Bush! and Scott Walker. My guess is that Hillary runs with a Castro brother. Which one doesn’t much matter.

  36. And as President Obama said, she is “likeable enough.” Perhaps unsurprisingly, he will be wrong.

  37. I find myself entirely uninterested in Obama’s opinion of Hillary.

  38. On the other hand, I’d love to see a woman president. I think that would be good for our young girls. And other countries have certainly had very competent leaders. Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, Benizar Bhutto come instantly to mind. Also Woodrow Wilson’s second wife and Eleanor Roosevelt.

    The one thing I am convinced of (really) is that Jeb! Bush! will be our last white president. Perhaps ever, unless a Vice President ascends while in office. (George P., who will be president, identifies as Latino.)

  39. Rock, my guess is that President Obama is completely disinterested in Hillary as well.

  40. Nah, the Obama team and the Clinton team actively hate each other.

    Is Finn going to come along and complain about uninterested v disinterested?

  41. Rhett, his name is Jeb! But as I think I stated earlier, the cynics down here want to emphasize that he is a Bush (something he clearly doesn’t want to acknowledge). So, for me, it’s Jeb! (his real name, apparently) and his last name as a reminder, italicized and with an exclamation point to identify who he is. I just don’t know how to do “Bush!” in italics here.

  42. I just want to remind you people that Texas has given you two (2!!!) of her sons as potential candidates this year, and I’m just not feeling the appreciation from this forum. At least we made John Stewart a happy man.

    I agree with Milo that it is the Republican’s race to lose at this point, but with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, that prospect alarms me.

  43. I believe Obama is neither uninterested nor disinterested in Hillary.

    Since he’s trying to do so much via executive order, he’s very interested in who will succeed him, and which of those orders will be overturned.

    Despite his hiring of Hillary, I think there are still some lingering resentments between he and his camp, and Hillary and her camp, over the 2008 campaign.

  44. “I agree with Milo that it is the Republican’s race to lose at this point, but with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, that prospect alarms me.”

    It wouldn’t stay that way for long. They’ll hold the House for the forseeable future, but they’re going to lose Senate seats in 2016. They probably won’t lose the majority yet, but if a Republican is elected President (which I’m predicting will happen), then I think the Party will lose the Senate by 2018.

    One-party control doesn’t seem to last very long.

  45. “Jeb! (his real name, apparently)”

    If that’s his real name, I wonder how often he has to deal with

  46. forms and organizations not being able to accurately capture his name.

    Our friends, the O’Briens, have a lot of experience with that, but I imagine it’s much worse for Jeb!.

    If that’s really his name, has it been mispronounced frequently in the media? I don’t recall ever hearing the exclamation point.

    I suppose the correct pronunciation might really be, “Jeb factorial.”

  47. How did you do the italics, Rhett. (You are too damn smart.)

    (Hey, and I believe that is the only cussword that Rocky and I have used today!)

  48. “I don’t like Hillary or Jeb!. The whole 2016 campaign feels like a circus.”

    Agree. I am just disgusted that this is what we get in a country of 300+ million.

  49. PTM, for italics, use (and this is test, this might not come through):

    this is how you italicize

  50. Crap.

    Okay, so less-than sign (the symbol above the comma on a standard keyboard), letter “i”, greater-than sign (symbol above the period). To end the italics: less-than sign, forward slash, letter “i”, greater-than sign.

  51. PTM,

    When I say ( I actually mean <

    To get italics you use (I)example 1234(/I) that will display as example 1234

    Again, don’t use ( use <

  52. What RMS is trying to explain is HTML text formatting (google that phrase for more info).

    I’m old enough to have had to use those tags to create web pages.

  53. Me too! Using Notepad! and I walked uphill through the snow to get to my Unix servers and I made edits in vi.

  54. “PDP-10”

    You got me. We had a PDP-11.

    This did come after punchcards. Creating html files using vi came many years after that.

  55. On the original topic, another big part of the problem is most Americans are pretty science illiterate. A few days ago, one of my Facebook friends posted a link to an article about a study that showed children born via c-section have a higher rate of illnesses such as asthma and type 1 diabetes. Here comment was “this is clearly bunk because I had a c-section and my son is perfectly healthy.” Then others commented with things like “My baby would’ve died if I didn’t have a c-section so he’s healthier because I had a c-section.” And these are people who are reasonably intelligent.

  56. Voting for Hillary here. I don’t like her foreign policy and stand on many issues, but I would rather have her than the competition. Also because I hate that women hate her because she chose to stay with Bill.

  57. Yeah, Dell. We can never really get into somebody else’s marriage, can we? I, for example, have no idea why my wife didn’t leave me by the roadside many times, and I didn’t even cheat! And my guess is that Hillary holds her own. And can throw a mean lamp. But I suspect that she and Bill love each other, and he has certainly supported her, as Senator, S of S and two time presidential candidate.

  58. I think a lot of women hate Hillary not simply because she “chose to stay with Bill”

    Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
    Giving all your love to just one man
    You’ll have bad times, and he’ll have good times
    Doin’ things that you don’t understand
    But if you love him, you’ll forgive him
    Even though he’s hard to understand
    And if you love him, oh be proud of him
    ‘Cause after all he’s just a man.

    but because many of Bill’s dalliances actually crossed the line into sexual assault, and Hillary took an active role in discrediting his victims.

  59. Late responding to OP, but the problem of “studies” showing the results that editors want is a problem all around.  The resources devoted to reporting seem to have dwindled along with plummeting ad revenue, and sponsored stories are on the rise.

    Social science is even more susceptible to questionable study results.  This was in the news recently.

    The Case of the Amazing Gay-Marriage Data: How a Graduate Student Reluctantly Uncovered a Huge Scientific Fraud

    Then this study popped up recently, coming out of Harvard Business School, so it must be credible.

    Mounting Evidence of Advantages for Children of Working Mothers

    It was described as one of the many “sad articles that desperately try to reassure working mothers that their children are ‘better off’ than the children of mothers who stay home”.  The problems with the study, IMO, included the way they lumped so many variables together.  For one:

    The researchers were primarily interested in the answer to one key question: Did your mother ever work for pay, after you were born and before you were 14?

    “It didn’t matter to us if she worked for a few months one year, or worked 60 hours per week during your whole childhood,” McGinn says.

    IMO, it does matter!

    And then there’s meta-analysis evidence that shows significant differences in the effects of working mothers based on demographics.

    The positive effects were particularly strong for children from low-income or single-parent families; some studies showed negative effects in middle-class or two-income families.


    To top it all off, in one article refuting the study conclusions, the author (holder of a masters in radio, tv, and film) made the rookie mistake of calling an increase from 18% to 22% a “4% increase”.  *sigh*

  60. Milo, do you really want to put yourself in somebody else’s marriage?

  61. PTM – I couldn’t care less about their “marriage.” I think there have been enough ethical lapses between the two of them that we can do better selecting a President.

  62. “[W]e can do better selecting a President.”

    Yeah. Thank heaven Donald Trump is entering the race!

    I think your previous comments belie the notion that you could care less about their marriage. I think you are being judgmental, and that’s okay.

    And of course we liberals are pissed at Hillary for not leaving Bill. Imagine, a first lady ditching a president while he was in office! It would be as unthinkable as Bob Livingston, Newt Gingrich and Denny Hassert going after a president for bad behavior in office.

  63. Completely off-topic: I need another MMM post. I am having a really crappy week so far on a big new project I am running and am channeling the mom in “Everybody Hates Chris” — “I don’t need this [bleeping] job, my man has TWO jobs.” So how dare MMM be so successful he can take time to play around and enjoy life instead of producing inspiring blog posts on demand, right when I need them? Argh. . . .

  64. It would be as unthinkable as Bob Livingston, Newt Gingrich and Denny Hassert going after a president for bad behavior in office.

    I’m fascinated by Hassert and the payoff. Presumably the victim didn’t go after him when he was a congressman because he didn’t have any money. He didn’t go after him when he was speaker because he thought he’d end up like Zoe Barnes. So, he waited for the Zoe risk to subside and for “Coach” to make some money before making his move? He was playing a long game.

  65. Milo – my mother hates Hillary for similar (IMO) judgy reasons–she shouldn’t have married such a philandering jerk, and she should have left him!–but also because she was one of those uppity Cliffies who thought they could run the world, back in 1970! The nerve!

    I think part of it is jealousy–Hillary has had such an awesome career–but mixed with fascinated horror–who would want to be married to Bill? Kind of like how I am simultaneously jealous and not jealous of my superrich friends who work a TON – but have fancy clothes! Two nannies! A cook! A housekeeper! And a beach house!

  66. who would want to be married to Bill?

    Lots of people. The only difference between Bill and half (at least) of the guys on the Thursday 7pm flight from Houston to Chicago is Bill’s dalliances came to light.

  67. On another note, DW woke at 4:30 am to reserve our Disney Fast passes and make the dining reservations. This was her lazy version, deciding that it wasn’t worth it to stay up until 12:01 last night. She didn’t have any issues this morning. We get three Fast Passes per day, so she used them on the attractions that typically have the longest lines, selecting times that weren’t so early that there would be only a short regular line (thus reducing the marginal value of the Pass), but not so late that our being in possession of un-redeemed Fast Passes would unduly restrict us from obtaining additional ones at the kiosk. It’s quite a balancing act.

  68. I really like Hillary, but this email thing really bugs me. I mean, seriously, who in 2008 would think it’s OK to use personal email for official international government business? However, all of the Republican candidates terrify me. Jeb! is probably the most moderate of them all but I have a feeling that “Jeb!” is going to become a big joke and that he won’t be able to separate himself from the other Bushes. And I don’t think any other Democrats are strong enough to beat Hillary in the primaries. I’m really disgusted that our political system has become so polarized that we can’t get good moderate candidates who appeal to both sides and the middle.

  69. “he won’t be able to separate himself from the other Bushes”

    We might be making too much of this right now. Keep in mind, as I recently read, that George W. Bush, supposedly the albatross for Jeb!, has an approval rating over 50%. Neither Hillary nor Obama can claim the same. We have short memories, so it’s entirely possible in a Hillary vs Jeb contest, Obama will be far more of a burden to Hillary than W. is to Jeb.

  70. I find Bill’s depth of knowledge on policy topics fascinating, and love to hear him speak. I think he’d be a very interesting person to be married to if you’re someone whose interests lie there, also. Hillary and he seem to be well matched, and in every marriage people make concessions. She’s certainly not the first wife of a successful, powerful man to look the other way at cheating.

    But I I agree with Milo – turning a blind eye to repeated allegations of assault is different. I have no idea how credible those are.

    On the OT, I generally believe all the studies I read, and my husband (nicely) mocks me for it. Then there was an article about a man who had fabricated tons of social science research, so now I try to be more skeptical.
    When the “study” confirms my already held beliefs, though, it’s easy to believe.

  71. L – I think it’s a fascinating situation. Our modern party nominating system is relatively new, and I don’t think that there’s ever been a time since its inception that the electorate has been more hostile to anything perceived as Establishment. (This doesn’t bode well for Jeb!, either.) Hillary is the ultimate Establishment candidate, and while many will acknowledge that she’s capable and hard-working and smart, she just doesn’t excite anyone, particularly potential primary voters, especially when you have to fight it one state at a time.

    We already saw this play out in 2008. Why do we expect a different result now? Oh right, it’s now DEFINITELY “her turn.”

  72. I don’t think that there’s ever been a time since its inception that the electorate has been more hostile to anything perceived as Establishment.

    Andrew Jackson?

  73. “I think you are being judgmental, and that’s okay.”

    It’s totally appropriate to be judgmental in this case.

  74. Rhett – I’m talking since the parties started nominating candidates by popular vote. Well over 100 years after Old Hickory.

  75. “I did think it should have been Hillary’s turn in 2008 ”
    “thought it was her turn in 2008, and think it’s REALLY her ** turn now.”

    I don’t understand this thinking that being POTUS requires one to somehow get into a queue. Or any other office, for that matter. We had a similar situation when our US Rep decided to challenge the incumbent senator, and the party establishment was all over him for not waiting his turn.

  76. ” the rookie mistake of calling an increase from 18% to 22% a “4% increase”.”

    I’ve seen that many times, and I don’t think it’s a rookie mistake. I think many of the writers who make that mistake do not understand math well enough to understand the mistake they are making.

    Locally, politicians took advantage of writers’, and readers’, lack of understanding of that math to push a 0.5% excise tax on top of the existing 4% tax, calling it a half-percent tax increase, rather than the 12.5% increase it really was.

    Along the same lines, I’ve read a lot of coverage of the new SAT (yeah, I know, big surprise), and the articles pretty consistently regurgitate the line that the new SAT will no longer penalize guessing. Clearly the writers of those article did not scrutinize that; anyone who understands probability would quickly be able to tell you that the old SAT neither rewarded nor penalized guessing (IMO, it was very well designed in that aspect), but the new SAT penalizes not guessing (or rewards guessing, depending on how you look at it).

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