New presidential ranking

In the past, I’ve expressed my reservations against rankings of presidential greatness, which traditionally have been skewed by various biases – action bias, power bias, liberal/progressive bias, and so forth.

My own experience in science reminds me that one can “build in” the desired end result to some extent by asking the right, i.e., carefully worded or even loaded questions of the right, i.e., handpicked people, and you can certainly tweak and twist the results, too. That said, I was heartened recently to see a ranking produced by Franklin’s Opus, the trade name of the American Institute of Historians and History Educators.

They asked a small but apparently knowledgeable panel of experts to rank all presidents (excepting only the current holder of the office, and short-termers William Henry Harrison and James A. Garfield) on three criteria, namely how well they “executed the laws and the Constitution,” “promoted liberty and prosperity,” and “exercised good leadership,” and if you think these bode well for Calvin Coolidge, you would be absolutely correct – have a look at the results, and check out the cool animation of what Mt. Rushmore would look like if it represented the survey’s result!