Harvard Economist Blames Twitter For Current Recession

19 Mar
March 19, 2009

Harvard Business School Professor Martin Schmeldon released results of research findings that suggest that excessive Twitter use may have caused
the current economic downturn, according to a blog posting today.

"We see the rapid rise of Twitter usage in 2008 correlating very
strongly with a tremendous decrease in American productivity," said
Schmeldon. "Our regression analysis on the data suggests a causal
relationship that may actually be larger than the impact of the
much-touted subprime collateral debt refinancing triggers."

Employees who might otherwise be working productively and contributing
to the economy can instead create Tweets, such as "I just realized I
clipped all of my nails today except for one" or "My co-worker is
drinking pepsi . Pepsi!!! I want some. Stupid Lent," reports the blog posting.

The posting goes on to say ….

Beltway insider and renowned economic advisor, West Tirrettia, believes
Schmeldon's study could have some implications for economic policy that
comes out of the current legislative session. "Congress has duly taken
note of this research," said Tirrettia. "We may see some Twitter
moratoriums coming in future stimulus bills. It's really just a
question of whether lawmakers are willing to put their necks out
against something that has become very popular back home in their

The statistical validity of Schmeldon's research has been questioned by
many statisticians and economists, including Pat Sooshisif, an
associate professor of public policy at the Yale School of Management.
"I think an informed reader of this research paper should be able to
determine that Schmeldon wasn't engaging in serious statistical
analysis of this data," wrote Sooshisif in the March 2009 issue of The Journal of Economic Perspective and Analysis.
"Schmeldon cites a dual inflection point in December 2008. The
stochastic confidence interval for that assertion is very low, and it
is our conclusion that the z-factor is not statistically significant."
Professor Schmeldon did not return repeated calls seeking comment on
this research.

Clearly, we have proven the value of economic analysis and statistics.  :-)    (Tip of the hat to Sandy Bendorf.  Thanks for pointing it out.)

4 replies
  1. Ken says:

    Either you’ve been had, or I am spoiling the joke.

  2. Roger Matus says:

    Sorry, Ken. You are spoiling the joke. See the last paragraph in my post. (I do remember making graphs that looked a lot like this when I studied economics, however.)

    BTW, it really is posted on that blog and Sandy really did tell me about it.

  3. Ken says:

    That was my suspicion. But it’s already starting to be presented as true.

    I still believe the one about pirates and global warming, by the way.

  4. Roger Matus says:

    Lies. Damn Lies. And statistics. With enough computer power and data, I think we can correlate anything with economics. It does sound like something that could be on “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me.”

    My favorite joke research story on Wait Wait was one where a British researcher sent university students into McDonald’s to get one order of french fries — and nothing else. They then counted the number of times the order taker said, “and would you like fries with that?”


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