• The Dartmouth Dust-up

    The Dartmouth dust-up continues. I’m not going to referee because I haven’t had time to review all the papers and claims. If you’re looking for the back-and-forth, it went like this:

    • Reed Abelson and Gardiner Harris critiqued Dartmouth Atlas data and interpretation in a front-page NY Times story on 2 June 2010.
    • Dartmouth researchers Elliot Fisher and Jonathan Skinner responded in two pieces on 3 June and 7 June 2010.
    • Yesterday, Abelson and Harris offered a rebuttal in the Times.

    Later: I meant to add, but didn’t have time, that sometimes analyses that are not 100% correct can still reveal the truth. An advantage of a simplified analysis is that it is easier to explain and understand. If conclusions from a more complex one are qualitatively similar, one might be forgiven–though not necessarily by the NY Times–for presenting the simpler version.

      • I found their response interesting, and there are some truths there. However, it would have been more instructive if they wrote their original piece critiquing Dartmouth’s landmark 2003 Annals paper and the legitimate shortcomings of their publicly available map (which seems to be their fixation). Rather they parse, what appears to me, nuanced and complicated conclusions in the academic world vs those in the lay press–differences, IMHO, that are honest but consistent, and not all that newsworthy.

        I have followed this literature and the work of Dartmouth closely, and have communicated with some of the investigators, and at no time have I ever found them to be intellectually dishonest or seeming to promote their work for “fame and glory” over factual truth.

        My take: Dartmouth 1, NYT 0.