Friday, June 21, 2013

Keep Your Conventional Wisdom Cool

Here's a good example of how journalism can become sloppy where science writing wouldn't:

Across the rotunda, House Republicans have clutched even harder the conservative positions that are popular in largely gerrymandered Congressional districts, if not among the majority of Americans. As such, bipartisanship has been largely limited to things like post office namings and the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act.(NY Times)

I mean, it's probably true.  It sounds true to liberal me.  But what if it isn't?  A citation is necessary for (1) gerrymandering, (2) popularity of their opinions, and (3) conservativeness of the positions.  And the piece should also ask whether Democrats are also motivated by similarly partisan forces.

A citation is like a refrigerator: conventional wisdom spoils over time without one.


Also, required citations would prevent pure speculation like this:

But the consequences for the party seem more predictable: while Democrats have been eager in the past to find a way to compromise with House Republicans on such things as keeping the government from shutting down, their tears over failed immigration legislation may be more of the crocodile variety. 

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