Patrick McKenzie+ Your Authors @patio11 I work for the Internet, at @stripe, mostly on accelerating startups. Opinions here are my own. Sep. 10, 2020 1 min read + Your Authors

An issue with using indexes created by advocacy organizations is they allowing someone to write “The US is performing worse than $NATION” credibly while that being an insane result *is the point of the index construction* a lot of the time.

The index is a product to be sold and there are far fewer buyers for indexes that round to “sort by GDP descending” than there are for “the world would be so much better if I were in charge of it”

(Note that this doesn’t require someone to say “I’m going to totally corrupt this index” in the project brief; it will be a natural consequence of confirmation bias, subjectivity, the social mores of the class that produces indexers, and commercial pressures.)

A long time ago in a place far far away I was involved peripherally in a project which relied on an index which suggested that racial equality was materially worse in the US than Japan.

Me: “I am *extremely skeptical* that a methodology which arrives at this result being useful”

Counterparty: “Oh egads I agree; they should reweight things such that Japan < US < (pick your favorite EU country, they certainly did).”

Me: “... This suggestion does not increase my feeling that science is being conducted at any point of this exercise there or here.”


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