Following up on yesterday’s post, in which we pointed out numerous information quality errors in the high school ranking by Christina Settimi and published by Forbes, we decided to address this question using her data.
Category Archives: Press
School quality is something about which everyone seems to have an opinion, and a compulsion to rank. For example, every year there is a kerfuffle about the college rankings published by US News and World Report. This year the ranks of college administrators refusing to provide data to US News has grown because opponents have become more organized.
Elementary and secondary school rankings are the latest trend, and the number of rankings can be expected to grow as more statistics are made available. What do these rankings actually mean?
A Page One story by Washington Post staff writer David A. Fahrenthold says carbon dioxide emissions in the Washington, DC, area increased 13.4% from 2001 to 2005.
The article clearly is intended to influence public policy. But there are significant problems with this estimate that are not disclosed in the article. The federal Information Quality Act does not apply to the Washington Post, but it would apply to any federal agency that attempted to either take action based on them, or even to report them in a manner suggesting that it thought they were valid. (Congress is exempt from the statutory requirement to only disseminate scientific and statistical data that meet applicable information quality standards. Unlike Executive branch agencies, of course, Congress is never regarded as an authoritative body for scientific or statistical information. )
Below we compare the data reported by Fahrenthold with the information quality standards that apply to federal agencies
Wall Street Journal assistant editorial features editor Joseph Rago today publishes a dissent on blogs. He says blogs display many of the same faults of newspaper reporting plus a few new ones. Rago’s opinion column is worth reading, and may be somewhat ironic because the Journal hosts one of the most widely read daily contributions to the blogosphere.
We use the occasion of Rago’s column to reiterate what Neutral Source is about, and suggest how we are different from most blogs.
Geographic Ignorance and Information Quality
Can federal agencies learn from newspapers’ correction practices?
ccording to the September 26 Washington Post column “Hidden in Plain View,” young adults have disturbingly limited geographic knowledge. Apparently the Post made one too. Unlike federal agencies, however, the Postfessed up on its corrections page. Maybe federal agencies should have corrections pages like newspapers do.
The Information Quality Act is about avoiding error if at all possible, and correcting errors that occur as soon as possible after the fact. This is especially important for federal agencies because when they disseminate information, oftentimes it’s highly influential. Federal agencies might benefit from adopting newspapers’ practice of printing corrections in a common format at a well-known location.
In an July 7 editorial, the Wall Street Journal says “No.” But the editorial has a number of errors that make this conclusion suspect. The editorial also compares the incidence of U.S. highway fatalities and U.S. combat deaths in Iraq, a comparison that is both technically incorrect and hard to interpret.
The Journal editorial, titled “Safe at Any Speed” (subscription may be required), claims that there has been a steady decline in the highway fatality rate since 1994, and therefore repeal of the 55 miles per hour nationwide speed limit in 1995 has been vindicated. This appears to be based largely on a 1999 analysis by Stephen Moore, who at the time was director of fiscal policy studies at the Cato Institute and now is a member of the Journal editorial board.