In particular there is substantial evidence elsewhere that infant mortality, life expectancy, violence, trust, social capital and school bullying are all worse in more unequal societies.

Should have included that in your book then, eh?

14 thoughts on “Oh aye?”

  1. Funny, I saw the plug from Natalie Evans – who just happens to be the editor of that piece and deputy director of Policy Exchange – and immediately thought of your blog, Tim.

  2. “From the 1990s, I lived here under an assumed name and took direction from the Russian Federation,” said Vladimir Guryev, who lived in Montclair, N.J., under the name of “Richard Murphy.”

    Tim is there any truth in this? (sen in the WSJ)

  3. The basic conclusion of the Policy Exchange report is perfectly sound. Wilkinson and Pickett have argued that too many less wealthy countries have been included in the analysis and they may have a point there. But The Spirit Level’s correlations disappear even if you only include countries with wealth that matches or beats Portugal. The question is why did they exclude so many countries that didn’t fit the theory?

    Murphy’s reaction was pathetic, but in keeping with the CiF comments today which have reached new lows of childish abuse. Not one attempt to tackle the issues raised in the report, only a petulant wail against anyone who uses the facts to knock down this house of cards.

  4. Chris Snowdon has written a book about this, called “The Spirit Level Delusion”. Basically, “The Spirit Level”‘s conclusions are a result of cherry picking the data, and the results disappear when you don’t cherry pick. I think this shows Wilkinson is a liar.

    There’s a very good blogger who’s did a lot of work on The Spirit Level in February, including a couple of exchanges with Wilkinson.

    There are plenty of posts on it. Do a google search for spirit level

  5. “The question is why did they exclude so many countries that didn’t fit the theory?” You can ask the same question of the original “work” that demonstrated the so-called Cholesterol Hypothesis – the doctrine that eating fat kills you. It was, if I may say so, a bake. The bugger just omitted countries where the data disagreed with him. His career flourished, though. What a coincidence.

  6. Well my comments didn’t get through. I left this one instead:

    “Okay, my previous comments were deleted. But surely if I just say that Wilkinson’s conclusions disappear when you include countries that don’t agree with his conclusions, and direct readers to the book The Spirit Level Delusion, and ask them to do a google search for “ spirit level” where they can find two exchanges with Wilkinson and a few other critical posts… if I just say that, surely that will get through? Surely this comment won’t be deleted? “

  7. Turns out calling Wilkinson a liar is considered abusive. Well, maybe, but if so it’s deserved.

    Murphy says “Wilkinson chose his sample [because] he sought to exclude absolute inequality from comparative inequality”.

    I respond:

    But as shows in exhaustive detail, this is not the case. He excludes countries like Japan with no justification. And even if you follow his samples, if you attempt to replicate his data, you don’t get the same results.

    An example from Snowdon:

    They use the United Nations Human Development Report as a source. Sometimes they use the 2004 edition, sometimes the 2006. Why? Because the effects they get when they use the 2004 edition disappear if you try to recreate them using the 2006!

    P.S. I think you mean “absolute poverty” and “comparative poverty”. What’s “absolute inequality” and/or “comparative inequality”, and what’s the difference? I know “relative poverty” was always an Orwellian attempt to confuse poverty with inequality, but I wasn’t aware that the left finally had started using the words interchangeably.

    It reminds me of a story I heard the other day about a business where they referred to “problems” as “opportunities”, until someone said they had an “insurmountable opportunity”!

  8. He says “much much more likely – this reflects the data available when the work was done”
    But of course both studies were available, that’s why they’re both in the bibliography.

    And he deletes comments that say that if you actually try to recreate Wilkinson’s diagrams using his own samples, you still get different results.

  9. Anybody who reckons unequal societies produce less trust in a population never spoke to anyone who lived in the USSR. One of the most damaging aspects of socialist societies is that it destroys all trust between individuals within it, even down to the family level.

  10. “it destroys all trust between individuals within it”

    Even to the point where someone would betray a fellow citizen to the (tax) authorities.

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