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How can Americans get angry about the pathological distribution of wealth in their own country if they don’t know how egregiously skewed it is?

Posted on December 8th, 2016 in Capitalism,Religion by Robert Miller

About a year and a half ago, I posted an article based on a study by Michael Norton and Dan Ariely, two academics who published a paper “Building a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time,” which appeared in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science. The study was based on a huge sample (5522), with a median income that matched that of the United States. The study illustrated how Americans completely misjudged the distribution of wealth in their own country; the majority thought that wealth distribution in America was more like that of Sweden, which it definitely is not. Last night, a friend and colleague (Dr. Kent Parker, Department of Psychology, University of West Virginia) sent me a link to a new, remarkable graphic illustration of the Norton-Ariely results which demonstrates that while you can argue whether a picture is worth a thousand words, an elegant graphical presentation of a complex study is worth far more. You can see the graphic summary of their results on the Mashable website here. This graph was posted on YouTube and started going viral on Friday. If every American got infected by this deservedly viral graph, perhaps enough anger would be aroused to begin a discussion that should have started thirty years ago!


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