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Monday, August 09, 2010

Some interesting research on supposedly random and reliable social statistics on the Daily Kos

Here: A bit over two weeks ago, a group of statistic wizards (Mark Grebner, Michael Weissman, and Jonathan Weissman) approached me with a disturbing premise -- they had been poring over the crosstabs of the weekly Research 2000 polling we had been running, and were concerned that the numbers weren't legit.

I immediately began cooperating with their investigation, which concluded late last week. Daily Kos furnished the researchers with all available and relevant information in our possession, and we made every attempt to obtain R2K's cooperation -- which, as I detail in my reaction post here -- was not forthcoming. The investigators' report is below, but its conclusion speaks volumes:

We do not know exactly how the weekly R2K results were created, but we are confident they could not accurately describe random polls.

This cannot be a design inference, right?


Note to friend re abolishing the intrusive long form census

Here is the original story. Here are my further comments to a sympathetic friend:
I have always sympathized with the people who were annoyed or enraged by the Census "long form". The fact that it helps businesses, religions, etc., does not seem to me a justification for the questions asked.

Businesses and religions, in my view, should use private, NON-mandatory means to collect the data themselves.

Businesses can use their accounting system. Churches can use attendance.

The government should not be using the force of law and tax expense to collect the data for these entities.

I approve of the mandatory, mercifully brief, short form because we must use our tax funds wisely. We need to know the basic demography and current infrastructure of a region in order to do that.

We need not be more intrusive. That is the problem with the "long form", and why I am glad that the Prime Minister opposes it.

Example: Build a road? Well, how many people live out there? If it's just Jake, drinking up a storm in a mosquito-ridden, falldown shack, we are building The Road to Nowhere.

Just think: for the same money, we could add a much-needed wing to a regional hospital instead, full of people concerned for their health (which Jake is probably not).

Look, I am still haunted by the memory of the health care worker who told me - after my mom's heart attack, last year - "We could open a hundred new beds here, and fill them immediately."

It is true. I witnessed the bed shortage myself. We HAVE the money, but, so often, it goes to all kinds of stupidity and waste, and not to basic issues - in part, I suspect, because of the pretenses created by the long form.*

We need basic demography. That way, statisticians can tell the government what that guy told me.

Mandatory intrusive questions are just a big fat scandal.

*pretenses created by the long form: One risk is that the long form becomes the basis for tax mooch causes, as opposed to practical matters. The fact that the regional hospital needs 100 more beds is a practical matter. But the government does NOT need the long form to tell it so. Doctors have been shouting it at them for years.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


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