This embarrassing correction was appended Wednesday to a Sunday New York Times op-ed by William Deresiewicz, "an essayist, critic and the author of "A Jane Austen Education":An earlier version of this article misstated the findings of a 2010 study on psychopathy in corporations. The study found that 4 percent of a sample of 203 corporate professionals met a clinical threshold for being described as psychopaths, not that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are clinical psychopaths. In addition, the study, in the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law, was not based on a representative sample; the authors of the study say that the 4 percent figure cannot be generalized to the larger population of corporate managers and executives.
At the Daily Beast, Edward Jay Epstein has more:As Ryan Holiday, author of Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, explained to me, "Headline-grabbing trend manufacturing such as this now dominates the pseudo-news cycle on the Web." Welcome to the Internet, which is not known for its source-checking.
Unfortunately, it is then only a short leap to the so-called newspaper of record, which was happy to serve up to the public this non-existing study, which like much else demonizes financiers, as a scientific finding. As a result, we now have mad men of Wall Street running amok in the public imagination.
It seems to us it's quite unreasonable to blame the Times's error on "the Web." The Weekly Standard's Andrew Ferguson documents how several recent books purporting to prove scientifically that liberals are better than conservatives are based on pure hokum. He begins by noting that there was a spate of similar books just after World War II. Journalists have been regurgitating junk science since long before the Internet was commercialized.
James Taranto again wields a sharp scalpel eviscerating the fools who flail away at Wall Street and other symbols of the American way of life.