December 14, 2005

A Christmas present from Steven D. Levitt?

The Freakonomist used his latest column in the New York Times magazine to promote a new unpublished paper by U. of Chicago grad student Andy Francis as:

" ... an empirical argument that may fundamentally challenge how people think about sex."

It turns out that Andy Francis was a research assistant to Dr. Levitt in 2003-2004.

And Mr. Francis describes the paper praised by Dr. Levitt in the New York Times as his “Job Market Paper.”

While this apparent attempt by Dr. Levitt to use his soapbox in the New York Times to help out an old student’s job search certainly reflects well on his amiability, my vague impression is that the NYT prefers that its writers disclose this kind of conflict of interest to readers. Perhaps Dr. Levitt obtained a waiver of the disclosure policy in this case from his editors? Or perhaps he forgot to mention it to them at the same time he was forgetting to mention to his readers that Francis's study was statistically insignificant?

By the way, Francis's paper is really quite good, even though he doesn't come close to proving his theory.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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