Piketty’s Pickle

by Andrew Stuttaford

Patrick has some excellent background to the, uh, questions over Piketty’s research here and here.

The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson weighs in:

[FT journalist] Chris Giles has pulled the data thread, and Piketty’s whole book has unravelled. Which raises another question: did anyone actually fact-check Piketty’s data? Mistakes can creep into data, and I agree with Piketty that inequality is a problem on levels which the official data does not record. But you can’t just add 2 to a data series (as Chris Giles shows us in the above video) then present this as honest economics. It is editorialised data, which isn’t really economics.

And there’s this:

The idea of one’s instincts being proving empirically correct is rather intoxicating, which partly explains the success of his book. Perhaps Piketty gave the left intelligentsia a story which (as tabloid hacks say) was “too good to check”.

But what about Harvard University Press? Piketty’s publisher there, Ian Malcolm, is interviewed here. From the sounds of it, he just reprinted the French version without applying the checks and balances that you’d hope would be applied to a Harvard economics book. . . .

Ah, confirmation bias. Not the first time, not the last. 

(And yes, I am relaying this, but still . . .)