Filed under “Shit that could have come from The Onion”:
A Harvard University professor has analyzed this tribe’s behavior, using computers to look for trends in members’ writings. And he’s learned something that might help explain why Congress is having such trouble working out a deal this week.
He learned, to his amazement, that modern members of Congress spend about 27 percent of the time just taunting each other.
"It’s jarring and surprising," said Prof. Gary King, an expert in using computers to find patterns in large amounts of data. And, King said, probably counterproductive if we want Congress’s members to trust one another enough to make deals.
To come up with this insight, King and two graduate students analyzed 64,033 press releases sent out by all U.S. senators from 2005 to 2007. They used a computer program to sort them into different categories, based on their content.
King said this tendency to taunt seems to show Congress distracting itself from its most basic mission: to find common ground to solve national problems.
"I think most people," he said, "would say that this is not a good thing."