Stephen Colbert had a bone to pick on Tuesday with the “left-leaning academi-aholes” at the University of Massachusetts who found a crucial error in the Harvard study fiscal conservatives have cited to justify government austerity policies.
“Nerds!” the “Colbert Report” host shouted. “I bet you found them on a Friday night with your mom, while the rest of us were going up to The Point and drinking PBR. I puked in Dave Conroy’s glove compartment, it was a good time.”
A 28-year-old “Poindexter”/grad student at the school, Thomas Herndon, gained public attention after discovering mistakes in the Excel spreadsheet used for the economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff’s 2010 study, “Growth in A Time Of Debt.” The pair’s work, Herndon said, left out data from Australia, Canada and New Zealand, countries whose economic growth “undercut” the duo’s premise.
“Oh please,” Colbert scoffed. “If ignoring New Zealand, Australia and Canada were a crime, everybody in America would be on death row.”
Herndon’s analysis, which incorporated the three missing countries, also showed that nations with a debt at 90 percent of their gross domestic product actually showed a growth of 2.2 precent.
“Come on – 2.2 percent up, .1 percent down,” Colbert said. “You say potato, I say eliminate food stamps,”
As Business Insider reported on April 18, Reinhart and Rogoff did not go through the usual peer review process.
“Of course they didn’t share their data,” Colbert explained. “If they can’t use Excel, I doubt they can send an email attachment.”
But, Colbert said, he felt inspired by the controversy. After all, if papers didn’t have to be “mathy” to make a global impact, it gave him the green light to share his own unsupported findings, in papers like “Hydrofracking makes your ass look better in jeans”; “Crude oil: Nature’s egret moisturizer” and “Holster V. Bra: How Gun Control Causes Manboobs.”
Watch Colbert examine the undermining of the Harvard study, aired Tuesday on Comedy Central, below.