“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is what Benjamin Disraeli reportedly once said, according to Mark Twain and if one is to believe Wikipedia.
A few months ago I wrote on some of the dirty little secrets in Cost Benefit Analysis: mixing nominal and real flows, counting employment as a benefit, ignoring externalities etc.
Benefit-cost analysis is the applied side of welfare economics. Its broad use in support of public decisions draws both detractors and defenders. This tongue-in-cheek piece demonstrates that knowing how to lie provides insights into how not to lie; we assume the former is always accidental among economists and we hope it is so for others.
That’s kind of wishful thinking, but here is a sneak preview to these lies
Lie #1: Be selective in your impacts and values
Lie #2: Confuse the baseline
Lie #3: Count jobs entirely as a benefit
Lie #4: Act as if a number is certain (This one I love)
If you lie about a lie, are you telling the truth?