This blog just celebrated its fifth anniversary, so in honor of that I'll revisit some past posts.
According to the statistics given by Blogger, the most popular are:
1. Racial Resentment (2/10/13)
2. Less than meets the eye (1/5/15): Thanks to a mention in Andrew Gelman's blog. The funny thing is that this post was sort of a filler. Paul Krugman claimed that a simple scatterplot clearly showed that cuts in government spending hurt economic growth. I did a quick analysis which suggested that the apparent relationship was spurious. I did some more analysis hoping to come up with something more positive to say, but without success, so I left it at the negative comment. I'd done two similar posts in 2012, in response to a claim by Arthur Laffer that a simple scatterplot clearly showed that cuts in spending helped economic growth. On these, one analysis suggested no clear relationship, and the other suggested that spending helped.
3. Even more racial resentment (6/19/13)
4. Freedom (11/16/13): This was about national differences in responses to a question about " how much freedom of choice and control you feel you have over the way your life turns out." I'm not sure if the post really belongs here. As I recall, almost all of the views came in waves on two widely separated days, so maybe they were just some automated search thing that wandered by. But I hope that some actual people saw it--I think this is an interesting issue, but I've never seen any research on it. I've thought about doing something myself, but it never seems to become a top priority.
Turning to the least popular, the competition is stiff, and many of them deserve to continue in obscurity. So I'll just pick a few which got a small number of page views, but which I like for one reason or another.
1. Profit (7/3/2012): A repeated question on a basic issue of economic philosophy (should government limit the amount of profits that businesses can make) over a period of 40 years (1946-86). How often do you find something like that?
2. The life of the mind (3/12/12): in 1978 and 1997, CBS/New York Times surveys asked people if it was more important for someone in college to get "a well-rounded education" or "training for a well-paying job." There was a substantial shift towards "a well-rounded education." Did that represent a trend or just a reaction to the immediate economic conditions? Someone should ask this question again.
3. When did everyone start liking Hillary Clinton? (1/21/12): As I write this, there are a lot of stories about how Hillary Clinton is struggling as a candidate because she can't connect with ordinary voters. Things were different in early 2012: there were stories about how the struggling Obama campaign needed her political skills to help it connect with ordinary voters. This post looked at her popularity ratings over the years. I think it stands up pretty well.
4. What's an entitlement? (8/10/11): Makes a simple point, but one that's often overlooked.
5. They do things differently there (11/23/10): Early surveys (through the 1950s) usually gave examples of the coding of open-ended questions and of "other" responses, which often make interesting reading. This post was about a French survey from the 1950s concerning youthful experiences with alcohol.