The stench of dishonest social science

Andrew Sullivan’s blog led me to this statistical analysis by Daniel Drezner, for Slate, regarding whether the Bush administration is favoring its “cronies” and financial supporters in the reconstruction of Iraq. The Center for Public Integrity claims that the administration is doing so. Indeed, the Center flamboyantly refers to “a stench of political favoritism and cronyism surrounding the contracting process in both Iraq and Afghanistan.” But Drezner took the Center’s data and considered whether they show a statistically significant correlation between contributions to Bush and contracts. He found that they do not. The correlation was positive, but extremely weak– no social scientist would draw any conclusions from it. The odor the Center smelled must have come from its own dishonest rush to judgment.

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