Sunday, May 23, 2004


Last week two of the bigger blogs around pointed out a study that concludes the major cause of the increase in the political gender gap (men vote right; women vote left) is the rise in the divorce rate since the 1960's.

Brad DeLong broke the news first and Marginal Revolution passed it along. Brad DeLong merely typed "interesting" and then reprinted an article from KeepMedia that cited a "new study ... which will appear in The Quarterly Journal of Economics." His post was picked up by Marginal Revolution and 14 comments were posted (as of today) because he's right; it is interesting.

I don't know what my problem is (timewaste-itis?), but when I think something is interesting on the Internet I usually look into it a bit. When I did, I was kind of surprised to discover that the study was not news. In fact, the article cited by Mr. DeLong first appeared in BusinessWeek over two years ago and it's not that the study "will" appear; it has appeared. Two years ago Bruce Barlett at National Review wrote an interesting article analyzing various Republican initiatives in light of this research.

So last night the Warrior Monk and I talked about why it bothered me that a blog cited a two year old study as "new." The error doesn't affect the interesting nature of the study's conclusions. But somehow, this sloppiness disappointed me. The Monk pointed out that one of the plusses of the blogosphere is that it encourages quick thinking and discussion (not that he practices what he preaches) and errors can be (and are) quickly discovered and outed. But I think that high stature blogs like DeLong and Marginal Revolution should be more careful (it took me just a few minutes to find out the study was old news). What do you think?


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