Gibson vs. Clydesdale — the race to the bottom

Stargazer raises some questions about the response to John Gibson’s attack on public servants’ wages. I posted on this on Friday.

A comment at stargazer’s asks why…

“there hasn’t been as much media fuss about this “research” as there was about the Massey researcher’s recent statement that a Pacific underclass was present in New Zealand. Other academics, as well as interest groups, leapt on the bandwagon then to pick holes in the quality of the latter research – but where are they when some discussion is needed on Gibson’s anti-public sector union conclusions?”

This had occurred to me, so here are my thoughts.

Clydesdale’s piece was absolute dross in scholastic terms. It was a half-baked conference paper for a bottom-dwelling conference, and therefore had no academic standing. But, worse, it dealt to a group in society with little power — unlike publics servants and their union — and received disproportionate coverage — much more so than Gibson’s.

The greater coverage probably reflects the greater popular antipathy to immigrants than public servants, which the DomPost was feeding off (note, that’s a relative term and I am not suggesting that everybody is anti-immigration).

By comparison, Gibson’s paper is well written and does what it says it does. The problem is that it is applying a measure that doesn’t tell us anything  useful. In technical terms the validity of the construct employed is crap. This is undoubtedly why it finished up being published in a bottom-tier journal despite being quite well written, etc. In academic terms its standing is almost zilch, but not quite.

I finished up posting about Clysdale three times (I think) but hated it every time because it was such a stupid piece of work in the first place. I just hope that the Gibson “study” dies a death and I don’t have to post about that one three times too!

But it is high time that the news media learnt to discriminate when it comes to academic research. It is letting down the public every time it serves up scholastic drivel just because there is a controversial “conclusion”. If the so-called fourth estate wants to retain its privileged position, then it needs to put society’s need for informed debate ahead of its relentless pursuit of profit. Shame!


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