Headlines can be misleading.

Reading USA Today I encountered this headline:

Majority of economists in USA TODAY survey back 2nd stimulus

I was skeptical, so I skimmed the article to figure out how the paper got to such an unlikely conclusion. Will you be surprised that the headline derives from this?

Congress should pass a second economic stimulus bill that could include tax cuts, an extension of unemployment benefits, or funds for roads and bridges, say a majority of economists polled recently by USA TODAY.

Thirty-two of the 43 economists (74%) who answered the question last week in a survey by USA TODAY said lawmakers should pass a stimulus bill to soften the blow. “It won’t keep us from going into recession,” PMI Group chief economist David Berson says. “But it may make the difference in preventing a worse recession.”

“Majority of economists who responded to USA Today Survey back 2nd stimulus” is not quite the same, is it? It loses a little punch. At the expense of some truth, since self-selected responses to a politically charged question is hardly objective. But the news isn’t about the objective, I suppose.

Note: Every blog entry can’t be a winner. I’m distracted by the World Series, so I needed to flex my blogging muscles.

One thought on “Headlines can be misleading.”

  1. … And 43 respondents is barely enough to do make any statistically valid inferences. There’s a margin of error there of about +/-11.5%, and that doesn’t take into account the sample bias you alluded to above.

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