Three Easily-Debunked ‘Scholarly’ Studies

Three Easily-Debunked ‘Scholarly’ Studies

Because of the ideological lopsidedness of today’s colleges, the peer-review process barely functions as a gatekeeping device for weeding out questionable scholarship.

Here are three recent “studies” that have garnered overwhelmingly favorable attention in the world of academia (and in the popular press), but which could not withstand the slightest exposure to a critical audience, or even a random group of people on the street.

  1. The Gilens/Page “democracy has been hijacked by rich libertarians” study.

Princeton politics professor Martin Gilens and Northwestern University political scientist Benjamin Page have authored a widely-circulated set of studies purportedly showing that the poor and the middle class have absolutely no influence in American politics because the rich outlobby them and outspend them on campaign advertising.  Moreover, say Gilens and Page, the rich have succeeded in thwarting the most basic desires of American voters by pushing American policy toward “deregulation” and free-market libertarianism.

These findings have been met with praise and applause throughout academia and journalism. Yet they collapse under scrutiny.  Here is a graph showing how the government’s share of overall GDP has been steadily expanding; not contracting:

12

The same goes for the claim of “deregulation.”  By any measure—numbers of regulations, pages, sections or subsections, or enforcement budgets—regulations have steadily increased rather than declined.  And if the super rich are in total control of American politics, they have failed to use this control to shift the tax burden away from themselves.  Here is a chart showing how the overall tax burden has been steadily increasing on the richest 1 percent, while decreasing for the poorest 50 percent.  These are IRS data.

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