Noonan's lack of evidence

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Nate Silver's piece on Peggy Noonan dissects her "flawed statistical thinking" with regards to the IRS "scandal." "Some conservatives," writes Silver, "are alleging that there is another component to the scandal. They accuse the I.R.S. of targeting not just conservative groups that sought 501(c)(4) status, but also individual taxpayers who oppose President Obama or have supported conservative causes."

Silver observes that "it's likely that hundreds of thousands of Mitt Romney voters were selected for an audit in 2012," [but] "it's also likely that hundreds of thousands of Mr. Obama's supporters were audited:"

The point is, however, that even with no political targeting at all, hundreds of thousands of conservative voters would have been chosen for audits in the I.R.S.'s normal course of business. Among these hundreds of thousands of voters, thousands would undoubtedly have gone beyond merely voting to become political activists.

The fact that Ms. Noonan has identified four conservatives from that group of thousands provides no evidence at all toward her hypothesis. Nor would it tell us very much if dozens or even hundreds of conservative activists disclosed that they had been audited. This is exactly what you would expect in a country where there are 1.5 million audits every year. [emphasis added]

He also provides my Quote of the Day: "a handful of anecdotal data points are not worth very much in a country of more than 300 million people."

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 25, 2013 7:51 PM.

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