Last night (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), I noted the total inadequacy of a correction the New York Times made to a notorious William Deresiewicz op-ed ("Fables of Wealth") published on May 12. Deresiewicz originally claimed that "A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are ‘clinical psychopaths’ … (The proportion at large is 1 percent.)." The study he cited was really of 203 management trainees, the proportion of supposed psychopaths found was 4%, and the study's authors said that generalizing the results in any way to the overall population should not be done. As I asserted, the Times should long ago have pulled the op-ed instead of trying to cure something which is incurable.
Well, it turns out that Deresiewicz completely blew it in interpreting the rest of the alleged foundation of his op-ed, namely English writer Bernard Mandeville's "The Fable of the Bees," leaving the author utterly without any support for his anticapitalist and anticapitalism screed. At his Chequerboard.org blog (HT John Hinderaker at Powerline), Pejman Yousefzadeh performed the clinical dismemberment:
The New York Times apparently wants us to believe that it has done its journalistic duty by issuing a "correction," the text of which will follow the jump, to an especially odious May 12 op-ed ("Fables of Wealth") written by William Deresiewicz.
The author, who describes himself as "An essayist, critic and the author of 'A Jane Austen Education,'" originally claimed, as quoted at the Media Research Center's TimesWatch, that "A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are 'clinical psychopaths' ... (The proportion at large is 1 percent.)." Uh, not exactly (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Psycho-capitalism? The overwhelmingly liberal readership of the New York Times is predictably eating up a charged story in the increasingly pretentious and hard-left Sunday Review section, "Capitalists And Other Psychopaths," by left-wing essayist William Deresiewicz, a critic who often writes for The Nation. Bringing the article to life is a cartoon of two men with painted smiles torturing ants with a magnifying glass. The text box: "Rich people are more likely to lie, cheat and break the law. No surprise."
As of Monday afternoon it was the paper's second-most read and e-mailed story (behind a more substantive Times magazine cover story on diagnosing children as psychopaths), as liberal readers ironically used tools honed and perfected by capitalists to spread a tale -- published by a capitalist organization, the New York Times Company, with revenues of $2.3 billion in 2011 -- of the utter wickedness of capitalists.