Saturday 4 October 2014

Muddled thinking

Researchers have identified that right-leaning and left-leaning (or lefter? They have not really had a left for decades) alike in the US both greatly underestimate the CEO to average worker pay ratio (they think it is 30, it is over 350) and reckon that the ideal one is much lower than even their estimate. Left-leaning are closer to the truth with regards to the current situation -they report a higher estimate of the gap- while still a million miles away, but the two groups are virtually indistinguishable in what they say it should be, which is actually rather surprising.

I have no qualms with that, the only surprise is that the two groups would be so close in their ideal target. But, strikingly, this is what the researchers had to say:
“the ideal ratios for both groups were strikingly similar,” [...] “suggesting that whether people agree or disagree that current pay gaps are too large, they agree that ideal gaps should be smaller.”

Er, no. If you agree that ideal ones should be smaller, then you agree that current ones are too large. It really is that simple. Where the group differed was in how their estimates of the current situation.
And there might lie the problem: because the only way to honestly report it is that the left-leaning are much closer to the truth (though still far from it), presumably because they are better informed -which countless studies have shown. And maybe the researchers felt that it would not be politically correct, and tried to replace that statement with something that turns out to be a logical howler.

Researchers should not be so scared of accurately describing their results. Such muddled thinking is never helpful.

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