Reminder to Bill Maher: 'The Plural of Anecdote is not Data'

James Joyner at Inside the Beltway fisks Bill Maher and Alexandra Pelosi’s stereotype-mongering. Last week on Real Time, the pair presented a video Pelosi shot featuring poor, toothless, racist rednecks embarrassing Republicans. This week for balance attention they debuted a new provocation interviewing welfare recipients bragging about having “four baby-mamas” and voting for Obama because he’s a black man who keeps the government handouts flowing. Joyner cuts to the core issue and nails it:


There’s an old saying in social science circles: The plural of anecdote is not data. It’s relatively easy to cherry pick examples that confirm your bias but, without systematic sampling to ensure that they’re reflective of the larger universe, they have little value.

It’s doubtless true that there are a lot of ignorant racists in Mississippi. Or, for that matter, anywhere. Similarly, some percentage of those collecting government assistance are doubtless slimeballs who are too lazy to work and have no shame at living off those who do. But sticking a camera in their faces to record the fact doesn’t shed much light on how representative they are of the population we’re attempting to understand. Instead, these examples reinforce existing biases, doing much more harm than good.

Real Time videos available at Inside the Beltway, though, remember: they represent 15 minutes of your life that you won’t get back.


So why not give Zo 8 minutes instead?

If the Democrats lose the black vote, they lose everything. This is why their hooks are so deep in the black community and have virtually hard-wired the black community to be loyal to them. The chains that Democrats used to put on their wrists and ankles have now been clamped onto their hearts and minds.


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