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Matthew, this is great - really good advice.

I'd put Tammy Schirle in the celebrity rat pack too. Also, if you haven't read his stuff, check out Phil Curry http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/2014/01/24/statistical_analysis_project_like_moneyball_for_hockey.html . He has an awesome voice for radio too.

You wrote: "Which is why I’m surprised, to be completely indelicate, at the number of interviews I’ve seen and heard with economists who don’t sound the slightest bit interested in their own research"

When economists present their research at conferences, there's that same variability in passion. I don't know why that is. My guess is that, for some people, research is just something they have to do, rather than something they care about. Some people enjoy the process of research, but don't get excited about their results. And some people don't really care whether or not other people understand or like their research.

One thing that drives my passion is that ***I want people to understand***. My nearest and dearest will tell you that not being understood is something of a trigger for me - voice recognition software that doesn't understand what I'm saying for example. Some people just don't seem to care.

That's why you're such a joy to have on the radio, Frances!

I'm surprised to hear that some economists, when they're at home among other economists show little passion for research. I can't fathom it. What you guys are doing is so incredibly important, and has such influence and potential to influence, I'm mystified that anyone would become an economist without feeling what they do is worth some fire and guts to get people to care.

When we made The Invisible Hand, we had the pick of the litter, so passion wasn't a problem for the Canadian economists. But every American economist we called up, even if we didn't use them on the show, was full of passion and vitality. Perhaps it's a cultural thing.

I'd be interested to know if other readers had a good perspective on this. Do some economists actually find their work boring?

Use meaningful scales ("The City of Ottawa's debt is $2,500 per person", rather than "$2.7 Billion").

Be explicit about what your finding/lesson means for the audience: When I taught labour eco to a college class made up mainly of previously-unemployed BA grads, I used real-world income data by level of ed. to have them work through NPV math and explore human capital theories.

Be visual* and interactive to allow engagement, critical thinking, learning and retention. See the recent NYTimes piece and letter from the editor on post-secondary enrollment by family income for a recent example.

Don't hide the data - put it out there so that others can reproduce (and extend) your results, and drill down into areas that you'll never get to.

* Without resorting to misleading and/or 3D pie charts, please.

carsjam: "Use meaningful scale"

Absolutely, but it's hard to do. Partly it's finding the meaningful scale, which takes some thought and creativity. Is debt 2,500 per person or per adult and do the diplomats count as people? Also sometimes it means being vaguely sensible rather than precisely right, because that meaningful scale might require, say, using 2011 census population numbers and 2015 debt numbers.

Plus there are mistakes that even experienced people get that wrong. Eg. when talking about wealth, means and medians are very different, but people will talk about means. Same with income. Medians are more meaningful.

Speaking of scales, it's odd that Statscan's demographers don't publish household estimates, outside of the Census (and back-door through the spending survey).
I imagine that telcos, utilities and road planners, among others, would pay for that.

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