Leftyblogs have been going gaga over a map that supposedly shows a dramatic fall in median income nationwide — however, as Megan McArdle finds the methodology used to produce the map tries to compare apples to oranges:
Given that there was huge divergence between the 1999 income figures from the Census, and the 2000 figures from the ACS–a rather obvious spot check–I personally would never have dared make such a comparison in print, even with footnotes. All their graph really tells us is that the new ACS produces lower estimates of median income than the Census long form. The ACS may well be more accurate. But it doesn’t matter; you can’t compare apples to oranges just because the apples are prettier.
Journalists generally aren’t statisticians — they’re looking to sell you a story, and they’ll massage the facts in whatever way they can to make that story more dramatic. However, that doesn’t make the argument true. Since the media seems unwilling to check its facts, one has to look at everything presented with a jaundiced eye, and the more dramatic the story, the more the likelihood that the media has gotten it wrong.