Two recent New York Times articles included significant numerical errors that elicited howls of protest from readers and critics.
In each case, the wrong number was core to the story’s central thesis, leading some to suggest the entire article should have been retracted or completely altered.
Both mistakes highlight how mistaken numbers, once revealed, can become the story, rather than the article itself.
First error: Wall Street psychopaths
On May 12, the Times published an opinion article, “Capitalists and Other Psychopaths,” that stated, “A recent study found that 10 percent of people who work on Wall Street are ‘clinical psychopaths’ and that they exhibit an ‘unparalleled capacity for lying, fabrication, and manipulation.’ ”
In the Daily Beast, Edward Jay Epstein tracked the origin of the claim to a report in The Week about the work of Canadian forensic psychologist Robert Hare. That piece had based its report on an article in CFA Magazine. Read more