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Astral Codex Ten Podcast

Dec 6, 2020

Reporter Degrees Of Freedom


A sample of Thursday’s talk at Yale


These are four headlines describing the same study, Milkie, Nomaguchi and Denny (2015). The study found that of twenty or so outcomes, only three of them – all measuring delinquent behavior among teenagers – show significant effect from time spent with parents (and this result remains after Bonferroni correction). So Vox has a great argument for their headline. The National Post has an okay argument for their headline even though it’s kind of cherry-picked. The Washington Post just sort of reads between the lines and figures that if it’s not quantity of time that helps kids, it must be quality. And FOX also reads between the lines and figures that if moms spending time with their kids has no effect, the argument from opportunity costs suggests mothers are spending too much time with their kids.

None of them are completely outright lying. And indeed, most of the articles eventually explain what I just said, halfway down the article, in one or two short sentences that most readers will skim over. But the rest of the article uses the study to support whatever the news source involved wants it to support, and so people will come up with four diametrically opposed conclusions from this one study depending on which source they read.


Here’s a study that I wasn’t able to include in the presentation because it just came out recently. As per the Rice University press release: Overweight Men Just As Likely As Overweight Women To Face Discrimination.