RATING AMAZON’S RATINGS….Ted Barlow does a little amateur econometrics today regarding Amazon’s book ratings. (It is, however the tolerably honest version of econometrics since he promises “I didn’t pick books in an effort to get results I wanted.”) His conclusion: books almost always have very high ratings on Amazon.

Fair enough, and his numbers are actually quite helpful. For example, if you know that the average rating for general nonfiction books is 4.5 (out of 5), then you know that a book rated 3.9 is probably something of a stinker even though that’s actually a pretty good rating.

Ted’s got the details of his careful and detailed study over at Crooked Timber, but the Shorter Ted Barlow version seems to be: don’t waste your time with anything rated less than 4. Except for political books, which you should read as long as you find their viewpoint agreeable. Words to live by.