Archive for December, 2012

Public (non)Opinion

A lovely reminder of the perils of ‘opinion polling’ from a small experiment conducted by public policy polling in their Nov/dec poll in the US. As well as asking voters for the opinion of the (actually existing) Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan (40% had a view) they asked voters about the ‘Panetta Burns’ plan. 25% had a view, (including 40% of self classified ‘very liberal’ voters). Since the Panetta Burns plan was a figment of the pollsters’ imagination this tells us something about respondents’ desire to furnish desirable answers. I suppose it might also be construed as evidence of ESP and the priority of effects over causes were such a plan ever to come into existence (but this is unlikely given that neither surname used to configure the fake plan was taken from a serving Senator). The poll is at here. Comment on it from the Washington Post here and Paul Krugaman here


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Public Spending

some nice data on UK public spending 2011-12 and visualisations of the same at


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