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Old 11-03-2010, 12:48 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,810 posts, read 17,848,218 times
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user_id wrote:
Right, I should have added that some of us also know about the brain/psychology as well, in particular just how unreliable past memories of events can be. This is not to mention a number of well know psychologically bias that cause people to distort matters.
Not only am I aware of the tendency toward inacurracy and bias distortion, but I would add that there is a tendency to romanticize ( at least that's how my mind works! ) the past. Nonetheless, accurrate or not, life sure seemed easier in the 60's and 70s than it is now. And no matter how many graphs and statistical analyses might counter my remembered perception, I choose to trust in my memory above and beyond those measurements.
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Old 11-03-2010, 01:03 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,470 posts, read 18,549,034 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicWizard View Post
Nonetheless, accurrate or not, life sure seemed easier in the 60's and 70s than it is now.
And this may have been the case, but what exactly does that say about American society in general? Absolutely nothing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicWizard View Post
And no matter how many graphs and statistical analyses might counter my remembered perception, I choose to trust in my memory above and beyond those measurements.
Okay, so what we are dealing with here is a fundamental misunderstanding of mathematics.

You don't have memories of aggregate figures, you have memories of particular things Whether or not your personal experiences match the statistics is absolutely irrelevant, they are ahem....statistics and as a result there is going to be a large range in the underlying data set.

When someone claims that people are using less of their income today to purchase food, they mean that on a whole people are doing this, not that you in particular are using less income to purchase food.
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Old 11-03-2010, 01:54 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,810 posts, read 17,848,218 times
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user_id wrote:
You don't have memories of aggregate figures, you have memories of particular things Whether or not your personal experiences match the statistics is absolutely irrelevant, they are ahem....statistics and as a result there is going to be a large range in the underlying data set.
Be that as it may. Those who favor statistics instead of their own memory have cultivated a BIAS in favor of statistics. There is no getting away from one bias or another.
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Old 11-03-2010, 02:20 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,470 posts, read 18,549,034 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicWizard View Post
Be that as it may. Those who favor statistics instead of their own memory have cultivated a BIAS in favor of statistics. There is no getting away from one bias or another.
Like I said, a fundamental misunderstanding of mathematics. There is nothing to favor as there is no conflict in the first place, your personal experiences aren't the sort of thing that can refute a statistical generalization. These two statements are, logically, of rather different character:

1.) CosmicWizard spent more on food, etc in the 70's than he does today.

2.) As a whole the population spent more on food, etc in the 70's than it does today.

Your individual experiences contradict 1.), but not 2.).

But hey, even our politicians make these mistakes. Just this morning they were talking about the "American People", as if we are all one big entity with the same point of view.
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Old 11-03-2010, 03:22 PM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 20,491,671 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
I know we, crazy we'd take actual statistics over someone's fond decades old childhood memories.
.
USDA is a government agency, with all its PR spin, not an independent research firm. I actually taught research at the graduate level so I know a bit about statistics and their sources. A government source is not one to be necessarily relied upon. I was using my "fond" childhood memories as actual experience over possibly skewed statistics. You can't beat real life.
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Old 11-03-2010, 03:35 PM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 20,491,671 times
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We'll be seeing just how long people in their 30s and 40s will have to work, as the real economy becomes clearer over the next few years. Maybe QE++++ will make their golden years truly golden. Or maybe they'll look back upon 2010 with fond memories and nostalgia, sighing for when a loaf of bread or a gallon of gas was only $3 and when (with a tear in their eye, and after all those years of paying in), social security for them and their "brethren" once existed.
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Old 11-03-2010, 03:51 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,470 posts, read 18,549,034 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
I actually taught research at the graduate level so I know a bit about statistics and their sources. A government source is not one to be necessarily relied upon.
This is amusing in many ways. Firstly, outside of perhaps high school, you don't "teach research", research methods vary from discipline to discipline. Secondly, statistics is a branch of mathematics, knowing particular statistics that have been generated with statistical methodologies says little about your understanding of the former. Thirdly, no source is "necessarily relied upon", but doubting figures just because they are generated by a government agency makes no sense.

The government agencies have no big incentives to distort data, the government after all needs reliable figures to do its business just like everyone else.

Anyhow, you don't need to rely on figures here though, they just confirm the obvious. Increases in productivity decrease costs and farming is a lot more productive today than it was 30~40 years ago.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
Or maybe they'll look back upon 2010 with fond memories and nostalgia, sighing for when a loaf of bread or a gallon of gas was only $3 and when
Yeah, just like people in the 50's and 60's looked back on the great depression with fond memories. And umm....a load of bread is $1.00 a loaf today and we won't be buying gas when we're in our sixties, ya know, unlike food stuffs, oil is not renewable.
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Old 11-03-2010, 04:26 PM
 
Location: Near a river
16,042 posts, read 20,491,671 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by user_id View Post
This is amusing in many ways. Firstly, outside of perhaps high school, you don't "teach research", research methods vary from discipline to discipline. Secondly, statistics is a branch of mathematics, knowing particular statistics that have been generated with statistical methodologies says little about your understanding of the former. Thirdly, no source is "necessarily relied upon", but doubting figures just because they are generated by a government agency makes no sense.

The title of my course was Research Methods in Reporting.

I did not teach statistics, only to interpret and judge their sources.

Questioning government figures and not taking them at face value is a journalism skill you may not be familiar with.



The government agencies have no big incentives to distort data, the government after all needs reliable figures to do its business just like everyone else.

Government figures reflect what a government wants to project, and often studies are skewed starting with the sampling. To automatically trust government information will never get you a place as a top investigative reporter.

Anyhow, you don't need to rely on figures here though, they just confirm the obvious. Increases in productivity decrease costs and farming is a lot more productive today than it was 30~40 years ago.

Agriculture today is more "productive" at the expense of our soils and nutrition content. Do you know what the "statistics" are for large-scale farming operations going out of business today? A good topic for research.

Yeah, just like people in the 50's and 60's looked back on the great depression with fond memories. And umm....a load of bread is $1.00 a loaf today and we won't be buying gas when we're in our sixties, ya know, unlike food stuffs, oil is not renewable.
No one ever looked back on the Great Depression with fond memories. Today any kind of bread that is a dollar a loaf is a pathetic bag of crap. And you are right about the oil, you probably won't be buying it in your sixties. And...don't count on food stuffs being too readily available, since, as you know, big ag is completely dependent on big oil.
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Old 11-03-2010, 07:34 PM
 
Location: Conejo Valley, CA
12,470 posts, read 18,549,034 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
The title of my course was Research Methods in Reporting.
Which would have absolutely nothing to do with scholarly research, hence your claim to authority was silly, just as I suggested.

Regardless, you aren't questioning anything, rather you are denying the validity of a data-series because its from a government agency.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
Government figures reflect what a government wants to project, and often studies are skewed starting with the sampling. To automatically trust government information will never get you a place as a top investigative reporter.
You are just begging the question. The government needs reliable data for a number of reasons, why would it poison its own data, that as you are demonstrating, the general public doesn't pay attention to in the first place?

And umm...huh? The last thing I want to do with my life is become an investigative reporter, reporters haven't been doing real "investigative reporting" for decades.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
Agriculture today is more "productive" at the expense of our soils and nutrition content.

You are ignoring the point, increased productivity reduces costs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
No one ever looked back on the Great Depression with fond memories. Today any kind of bread that is a dollar a loaf is a pathetic bag of crap. And you are right about the oil, you probably won't be buying it in your sixties. And...don't count on food stuffs being too readily available, since, as you know, big ag is completely dependent on big oil.

Right, and nobody is going to be looking back at today with fond memories, the country is going through the worse economic crisis since the depression.

Your bread comment is funny, the $1.00/loaf is produced with the same flour as more expensive breads. But there is little profit on the $1.00/loaf, so food producers create ways to get people to spend more money.

The food industry is in no sense dependent on oil, it can drive its equipment with a number of other energy sources.

Its amazing how some people only see doom and gloom.
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:02 PM
 
8,265 posts, read 11,419,752 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newenglandgirl View Post
I was using my "fond" childhood memories as actual experience over possibly skewed statistics. You can't beat real life.
You statistical expertise leads you to decide that one should favor a study with a sample size of exactly one, with data collection and analysis consisting of decades old childhood memories, over another because they are government therefore must be skewed? I'll pass, thanks.

Quote:
Agriculture today is more "productive" at the expense of our
It isn't just agriculture. It's is more efficient transportation methods, it is larger grocery chains that can operate on smaller margins, it is a global market that allows products from other climates to be brought in out of season, it is technologies that reduce the cost of labor.

Here is another study from someone who took a grocery list and ran it against average salaries over time. I have no idea who he is, but given his results should we assume he is in collusion with USDA since he also shows an obvious reduction in food prices?
The Cost of Groceries

Here is another study that calculated the same bag of groceries but took the interesting angle of calculating how many hours of work it took to buy them over time.



But nah these silly people have nothing on someone at CityData recalling how good dinner was as a child despite Dad being middle income.
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