Finding Fact Through an Aggregate of Opinion

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As I wrote about last week, my interest in the Great Recession lies in exactly what caused the events leading up to the crash.  Now, I believe that most of my information will be derived from subjective feeds such as interview transcripts, court proceedings, and blogs about the crash.  The reason I believe this type of information is just as useful (if not more) than objective data because it incorporates a humanist perspective into the equation.  And really, if it weren’t for the inherent human flaws in the system, the Recession may have never of happened (plug for Adam Smith there).

So the obvious question is “how can subjective information lead to a result that one can base factual evidence upon?”  I think that there might be room for this concern if the opinions of just one or two people were incorporated into the final conclusion, but if many reputable sources are used, and they all have a similar opinion, then  the aggregate can give one a much better understanding of what the truth may be.  Objective data can then be used to support this “aggregate of opinion.”

Another reason I think this approach is more appropriate is because I believe that it is basically impossible in the instance of The Great Recession to rely only on graphical and financial data.  Because so much subjectivity involved in the graphical and financial data (the markets are based heavily on opinion), I believe that the opinions of analysts and people like Alan Greenspan create the “objective data.”  Thus, it is the most appropriate place to start.

So I will look at newspapers articles (a hybrid  between the objective and subjective), interview transcripts, blogs and court records.  I will also check out journals and scholarly articles to incorporate some more objectivity.  In the end, my goal is to conclude, thorough the aggregate of opinion and objective data, who (single? multiple?) should take the most blame.

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4 Responses

  1. Don’t you think that the findings that you come up with will be as based on your own inherent opinions and biases as the financial data is on Greenspan’s? It seems that the information that you extract from these sourced will be reflective of your opinions and will be more likely to be interpreted in a way that is consistent with your thoughts on the subject.

  2. What is the Adam Smith plug? A book you might be interested in: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0871139499

  3. I appreciate your focus on methodology and epistemology. The whole Great Recession brings home for me a deep awareness of how value and shared meanings absolutely shape markets directly by helping to create decision rules or logics of appropriateness for market actors and indirectly through constructing the overall social and cultural understanding of the meaning and nature of markets and market dynamics. In other words, markets are not themselves categorical phenomenon. Nor are they forces of nature. Their structures and legal or organizational frameworks ARE subjectively rooted even if e measure their dynamics with quantitative data.

    So, you have to analyze those subjective processes. How? As you propose, by looking at expressions of subjective, meaning-laden artifacts of human society.

  4. I think it would be important for you to compare the opinions of blogs and the other previously mentioned people to the actuality of what was occurring. Also, I must ask what happens when there is a disagreement amongst those you are looking at? If I read correctly your paper is looking at opinions that all support the same thing, but when these “experts” don’t agree will they make it into your paper or will it be just those who agree?
    Overall, it is an interesting approach to research and a redefinition of what is factual… this kind of reminds me of the Matrix where they are stuck between the reality in their mind and what is actually occurring.

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