How likely do you think it is that this follow up paper by Buturovic and Klein will make the Wall Street Journal and sweep the blogosphere the way their first paper with the opposite headline did?
Of course the correct conclusion from this paper ought to be not only that my title to this post is wrong, but the first headline (that libertarians are better at economics) is wrong too. The correct conclusion is that everyone can do badly depending on the question, and in this particular paper libertarians and conservatives did badly.
I still think there are a few outstanding problems with this paper - I still think they're failing to differentiate between what people actually know and the way they answer the question (i.e. - seeing it normatively or positively). It's a misnomer to say they're looking at "enlightenment" at all. Many of these people may be perfectly enlightened, but also sentimental. They also stick to their guns on the interpretation of the "right" answer to these questions - some of which have been highly suspect.
But every study has empriical pitfalls that it will never be able to answer completely. The important thing is that you tailor the extent of your claims to those imperfections. If you have a shaky study you don't blare out a bizarre conclusion. "Libertarians are better at economics" should never have passed the smell test and it says something about the circles that the authors move in that it did pass the smell test. That study and this follow up may not be perfect, but they at least eliminate that claim.
Hopefully there is equal buzz about this finding, but I'm not optimistic.
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