It would appear from the last line in this article, "Together they have founded The Equality Trust, a charitable trust which seeks to explain the benefits of a more equal society.", that Mr. Wilkinson and Ms. Pickett have started with their conclusion, and then created a study to support it. This is incredibly bad science. In fact it is not really science, it is merely their ideology masquerading as science in an attempt to make it seen legitimate.
2nd March, 2009 @ 6:37 p.m. (California Time)
In fact, we wrote our book, and established The Equality Trust, after more than 40 years research between the two of us, studying the effects of inequality on health and other social problems. We at last feel sufficiently confident of the effects of inequality that we (and others) have identified to move from research to trying to increase public awareness of the findings.
However, on a methodological point, as Professor Sir Karl Popper pointed out many years ago, it is not the sources of scientific theories which have to be unbiased, but the methods of testing them.
We do hope you will enjoy the book.
Kate Pickett & Richard Wilkinson.
Kate Pickett Wilkinson
3rd March, 2009 @ 12:18 a.m. (California Time)
In a civilized society like the US or Britain I could make the choices for someone so as to keep them out of poverty and thus narrow some of this inequity. I of course have a problem with using inequity as it implies unfairness, favoritism or bias. And of course I can't make choices for someone else, only they can do that. The rich are rich because they keep doing the things which made them rich, ditto for the poor.
3rd March, 2009 @ 8:18 a.m. (California Time)
To Pickett and Wilkinson: Since both of you essentially never left college, your worldview peers through the bars of the communist structure of academia. There is no meritocracy. No accountability. You are all the same, as you would have our world become.
You have never seen the benefits of the free market because you choose not to participate in it and distinguish yourself there. As a result your only work product is a written critique of those outside your world; a world you never had the guts to join and benefit from. Only in academia does this qualify as valuable work. Nobody has any use for it anywhere else.
Your paycheck - such as it is - comes from the taxes of we who work in the private sector to support you, where the number of academic degrees mean far less than creativity, motivation and vision.
You can lash out at the outside world all you like, but those of us who made the transition there haven't seen a good reason to go back to college.
3rd March, 2009 @ 9:06 a.m. (California Time)
@wchunko: At the basis of all science is hypothesis and experiment. You start by a hypothesis and verify your assumptions though an experiment. It is inconclusive at best to say "they have started with their conclusion", you might say they have made an assumption and followed with a study to show it, which is science, or perhaps they have made a study and then concluded...,which is still science. In either case it is highly recommended to read the study before concluding something about it.
3rd March, 2009 @ 10:02 a.m. (California Time)
@stimulus_package: Actually, that's not correct. You start with your hypothesis and test it. If the data contradicts your hypothesis then you are compelled to modify (or change) the hypothesis.
3rd March, 2009 @ 7:33 p.m. (California Time)
Thank you for your response. When it comes to reading the results of someones study, I think you'll agree that one really must consider the source and just what their interest is in them. The classic example would be all those studies funded by the tobacco companies that claimed smoking was harmless and nonaddictive. A healthy sense of skepticism is warranted. However, since I've opened this can of worms, I guess I'll have to read the book.
William J Chunko
3rd March, 2009 @ 7:45 p.m. (California Time)
wchunko your first post was spot on. But you have not opened a can of worms; you ask tough questions. Your example with tobacco company 'research' being scandalously financially conflicted is pertinent today also in global warming ...er... climate change.
The same conflict occurs when Marxists from academia must slum with the bourgeois and author a product that they must sell on the market for ...gulp... money. But the day they sell a million copies, the next title will be "Equities and Exchange Traded Funds".
3rd March, 2009 @ 8:39 p.m. (California Time)
Have not seen the book yet. Wondering though whether country comparisons make any sense, without controlling for ethnic composition and immigration policies. Those Nordics are all tiny homogenous nations, with the societal structure having little to do with Britain or the US. Same problem applies to calculation of all kinds of development indexes (mortality rate etc.) If those "externalities" are not controlled for, it is just an exercise in a politically correct posturing. Would the authors care to comment?
4th March, 2009 @ 1:49 a.m. (California Time)
Well look at that... a whole bunch of indignant conservative Americans indignantly, conservatively commenting...
... although none of them have actually read the book, or seen the research, and in all likelihood none ever will.
And meantime, after what is it? 8? Years of (trumpeted) conservative rule, the country is in ruins. The military has no credibility, the economy is so bad signs are you'll lose the dollar, America's international standing is in ruins... 1/31 Americans are in the penal system, working/middle class income hasn't increased in real terms since the 80s and you've just given trillions of dollars - your children and grandchildren's taxes to the small percentage of the population are responsible for so much of this disaster... so they can keep their bonuses... and you get nothing.
... and you still think you're right. You still employ the same wonderful twists of logic that got you into this mess.
Take a look at the world. Who is getting the best results? What are they doing?
How on earth did you get to the point where you actually believe that doing the opposite is going to get better results? After you actually tried the opposite, and it's failed?
6th March, 2009 @ 1:47 a.m. (California Time)
What I find particularly amusing is the automatic attempt to label any researcher as Marxist. Classic conservative tactic: where you cannot argue logically, immediately attempt to smear the opponent. It certainly shows off the hallmarks of so-called conservative thought: a lack of creativity, flexibility, and a total disdain for reasoned debate. It must be deeply unnerving for such people to encounter a forum where the word Marxist doesnt instantly produce a wail of terror.
Props to Pickett and Wilkinson for being prepared to speak up in this forum, and for maintaining the civil approach. Props to WJChunko for being prepared to recognise that he needs more information.
Citicrab: I question your assertion as to the homogeneity of either Denmark, or more particularly, Sweden. My understanding of Swedish recent history suggests that theyve had an extremely liberal immigration policy which has only very recently been altered, and as a result, they have quite a range of ethnicities within the country.
25th March, 2009 @ 6:20 p.m. (California Time)
Most things are widely recognized as folk wisdom long before studies support them. This one sounds like the old "money is the root of all evil" saying.
Think about how capitalism works. Farmers produce milk for sale - they get money back. They want more money, so they need more milk. They can get more volume by adding water, so they start that. Pretty soon all milk is diluted, so the dairy companies start testing for e.g. protein content. Farmers incomes go down, so they find a way to increase the protein content by adding melamine. Their incomes go up, people get sick. Root cause here is the financial incentive for farmers selling "protein".
26th September, 2009 @ 8:55 p.m. (California Time)
LR. \"The Love of Money is the root of all evil, which while some coveted after.... they have erred from the faith\"
Really that it s the sum of the matter...
It isn\'t money which causes so much misery, it really is Greed....
Countries which have the most severe disconnect between rich and poor, usually do have enough productivity to support a better life for the masses...
However it is often the Greed at the top, which siphons off the assets and cash to make their life that of a King, while the serfs suffer abject misery... (sure there are countries with GDP of less than $1000 per individual ($3 per day, but the people probably enmasse only get $1 per day )... maybe we should help those countries with assistance packages....(non recoverable assistance, but then there would be less incentive to develop, and possibly (definitely) in some of these countries wealth is not in terms of cash, but access to food, water, land, housing, so again categorising on the basis of Just money is not always a fair comparison...
We could go on to discussing the Inflationary effect of Usury (interest) and the desire for countries to have exponential growth of their GDP leading to poorer and poorer, poor people, and wealthier wealthy people...
Unfortunately we are all caught up in the societal treadmill of whichever country we live in.
18th December, 2011 @ 9:31 p.m. (California Time)
hmm, i've heard that even good scientists starting with a conclusion call it a "hypothesis" and the study that supports it "proof"
that was in junior high, might have changed since then but i doubt it.
24th September, 2012 @ 7:05 p.m. (California Time)