02 Apr 2010

Mercatus Scholar Refuses to Share Data!

Economics 2 Comments

Mercatus Center Scholar and National Review writer Veronique de Rugy was confronted today with a scathing critique of her regression analysis [.pdf] that putatively showed Obama stimulus money went disproportionately to Democratic districts. The problem is that de Rugy didn’t include a dummy variable for whether the district in question were a state capital.
The problem was so severe that Paul Krugman called it “A Devastating Takedown” and quoted this choice excerpt:

That de Rugy has testified before Congress on the basis of her evidence, and never paused to consider why the top five congressional districts on her list overlap with Sacramento, Albany, Austin, Tallahassee and Harrisburg, is mind-boggling. The presence of a state capital is the overwhelmingly dominant factor it predicting the dispensation of stimulus funds. This could have been discerned in literally five minutes if she had bothered to look at the apparent outliers in her dataset and considered whether they had anything in common — a practice that should be among the first things that any researcher does when evaluating any dataset.

Yikes! Of course what Krugman didn’t mention was this part of Nate Silver’s takedown, which was the very next paragraph:

By the way — if you throw out the districts that are home to state capitals, those which elected Democratic members to Congress still rank higher, receiving 31 percent more stimulus funds, on average, than those which elected Republicans. So, perhaps there is hope for her analysis yet. At that point, it would become important to consider other variables such as the economic conditions within each district. I’m not going to do her work for her, but I would suggest to de Rugy that she consider the following recommendations to correct other flaws with her research design…

In response, de Rugy refused to release her data to skeptics of her claimed connection between Democratic affiliation and stimulus funding, asking somewhat rhetorically, “Why would I share my data set when you just want to find flaws in it?”

Ha ha note the date, kids. [April Fools Fail–I’m writing this late on April 1, but for some reason WordPress apparently thinks I am in a submarine in the middle of the Atlantic, and is showing the time as early am on April 2.] Actually of course, de Rugy had a very calm response, promised to check some of the things Silver had brought up, and offered to email the Stata files to anyone interested. In fact her reply was so gracious that Silver didn’t know what to do in his follow-up–though he didn’t hint that maybe he overreacted in his first barrage. The de-escalation was so impressive that Silver’s commenters suggested he had a crush on de Rugy.

2 Responses to “Mercatus Scholar Refuses to Share Data!”

  1. Yancey Ward says:

    Par for course in regards to Krugman. He selectively quotes himself, so one should not be surprised.