A Blog by Jonathan Low


Mar 7, 2015

Are Your Critics Actually Just Idiots?

The internet is so awesome. You can construct an entire universe around your own beliefs.


Rohin Dhar comments in Price Economics:

Very satisfyingly, the data confirmed our deeply held bias that people who like us are awesome and smart, and people who don’t like us are not.
“While some people mention it has good conversation topics, that may only be the case if you only socialize with nerds, which in any case doesn’t count because you don’t need social skills to socialize between nerds.”
- A One Star Review of the Priceonomics Book
“Using clear and easy to understand style and unbiased approach Priceonomics authors manage to show some very expensive lies we are buying each and every day, showing how true is the statement that owning the truthful information at the present time is something most valuable, and most often it is a privilege only of selected ones.”  
- A Five Star Review of the Priceonomics Book
Do you respond well to criticism? Or, do you, like us, suspect that everyone who has ever criticized you is actually just an idiot? 
We’ve long theorized that people who like Priceonomics are compassionate, good-looking, intelligent people -- and that our critics are the opposite of all of these things. Unfortunately, we’ve never had the data to prove any of this. Until now.
Last year, we published a book called Everything is Bullshit, that now has 88 reviews on Amazon. Most of the reviews are positive: there are 55 five-star reviews versus only 2 one-star reviews. As authors, we read our reviews carefully. After all, what people say about your work not only affects your ego, but your book sales as well.
Perusing the reviews of our first book, we couldn’t help but notice that the 4 and 5-star reviews were well written, intelligent, and had a clear understanding of the material in the book. The negative reviews, on the other hand, appeared to be written by total fucking idiots.
So, we built an app called “Reading Level” that would run on the Priceonomics Analysis Engine, extract text from web pages, and calculate at what grade level of education the author of the review is writing. Were the people criticizing the Priceonomics book writing at a lower grade level than the people who wrote positive reviews?
Very satisfyingly, the data confirmed our deeply held bias that people who like us are awesome and smart, and people who don’t like us are not. The average person who wrote a 5-star review writes at over a 10th grade level, while the average person who wrote a one-star review writes at a 7th grade level:
We are hesitant to note that the statistical significance of these findings is limited, and that the correlation between reading level and review score is quite weak. But frankly, this is due to the fact that there aren’t that many one and two star reviews; most people who reviewed our book found it pleasant enough.  
So, to all the people out there who like Priceonomics: our data suggests you are very smart, and all the good things you think about yourself are likely true!


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