April 19th, 2014
in Op Ed
by Roger Erickson
Although it always worries many when a study group goes to the length of stating that they ran a "scientific" study.
Everything is "scientific," so just look at the details of the study terms and weigh relevance for yourself.
Note, that it is can seem problematic when articles in peer-refereed research journals are "leaked" to the public ahead of actual publishing (since it's not clear if all the reviews are in). When is that crossing the borders between politics, PR and double-blind research studies? Sometimes when it's politically convenient? Sometimes when the TEMPO of discussion outweighs worries about validity? C'est la Vie. There's no reliable answer.
OpenSourcing the article in question to the lay public, for full AND TIMELY public review, certainly helps the rate of dissemination of public discourse, and public learning from the diverse components of itself. Overall, that's why most of nature openly broadcasts most data, and then races to recognize new patterns and discern their implications for new contexts.In this case, we have both occurring, though asynchronously. The authors of this study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is eavailable from their edu website as a pdf, entitled:
So why bother with subsequent publication in a peer-reviewed journal operating behind a paywall? One reason is simply the layers of tenure-track processes that this publishing process involves, for both authors and reviewers. University academic operations are quite as due for a systemic overhaul as our banking system is. Most people outside of academia simply aren't familiar with the arcane, outmoded operations involved in University management.
Given all that, go get 'em, USA. How do YOU spell "D.E.M.O.C.R.A.Z.Y?"
Personally, I think this article should be discussed by every classroom & household in the country. We'll worry about how scientific it is throughout the ongoing discussion. Whether oligarchy or democracy, the big point to remember is that success tracks the quality (including tempo!) of distributed decision making. That reminds us that it's always a war between Central Planning (by any other name), and effective Democracy.