Adding to the problems, the survey of 1063 vehicles was for a single half-hour period on one day, and 50% of the half-hour period was before the start of official darkness (though they say visibility was low enough to make headlights necessary).
Posts filed under Surveys (83)
From the Wellcome Trust Monitor, a survey examining knowledge and attitudes related to biomedical science in the UK
The survey found a high level of interest in medical research among the public – more than seven in ten adults (75 per cent) and nearly six out of ten of young people (58 per cent). Despite this, understanding of how research is conducted is not deep – and levels of understanding have fallen since 2009. While most adults (67 per cent) and half of all young people (50 per cent) recognise the concept of a controlled experiment in science, most cannot articulate why this process is effective.
Two-thirds of the adults that were questioned trusted medical practitioners and university scientists to give them accurate information about medical research. This fell to just over one in ten (12 per cent) for government departments and ministers. Journalists scored lowest on trustworthiness — only 8 per cent of adults trusted them to give accurate information about medical research, although this was an improvement on the 2009 figure of 4 per cent.
Pew Research have released a report on public opinion in Europe. There’s lots of important stuff in there about austerity, the Euro, unemployment, inequality, and so on. There’s also this entertaining table:
As Robert Burns didn’t quite write: O wad some Pew’R the giftie gie us, To see oursels as ithers see us!
A familiar topic on StatsChat is the use of surveys (of widely varying quality) purely to create a press release, in the hope of getting some free product placement from overworked journalists. The UK blog Ministry of Truth has a detailed look at a company that seems to specialise in this form of marketing
If you didn’t see it on the BBC, then you may well have caught up with the story via the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror or the Yorkshire Evening Post. In a sense, it doesn’t really matter where you saw the story because they were all churned from the same press release, which had been put out by a Gloucester-based PR agency called 10 Yetis, and they all, to varying degrees of cut and paste, uncritially reported at least some of the contents of the press release.
It is also, as you may also have already guessed, a complete and utter load of bullshit from start to finish, and that’s really what this particular article is all about.
There’s currently discussion in NZ about whether to change the 5-yearly census. North America is providing some examples of what not to do.
Canada decided a while back that they were going to chop most of the questions off the census and put them in a new survey. The new survey is still sent to everyone, but is voluntary — the worst of both worlds, since a much smaller survey would allow for more effort per respondent in follow-up. Frances Woolley compares the race/ethnicity data from the 2006 Census and the new survey: the survey is dramatically overcounting minorities.
In the USA, a Republican congressman has proposed a bill that would stop the Department of Commerce and the Census Bureau from collecting basically anything other than the census. That would wipe out the American Community Survey, the detailed 1%/year sample that provides a wide range of regional data. It would also wipe out the Current Population Survey, used to estimate the unemployment rate. Fortunately for the US economy, there’s no chance of this bill becoming law: the business community hates it, and Senate will never pass it. It’s still worrying that there’s a public-opinion advantage in pretending you want to abolish the government’s economic data collection.
The Herald today ran this story claiming that people think New Zealand is a racist country, based on the results of a survey run for TV3′s new show The Vote. Viewers voted through Facebook, Twitter, The Vote website or by text.
I haven’t watched The Vote, but I would like to know whether its journalist presenters, presumably fans of accuracy, point out that such self-selecting polls are unscientific – the polite term for bogus. The best thing you can say is that such polls allow viewers to feel involved.
But that’s not a good thing if claims made as a result of these polls lead to way off-beam impressions being planted in the public consciousness; that’s often the way urban myths are born and prejudice stoked.
I’m not saying that racism doesn’t exist in New Zealand, but polls like this offer no insight into the issue or, worse, distort the truth.
It’s disappointing to see the Herald, which still, presumably, places a premium on accuracy, has swallowed The Vote press release whole, without pointing out its shortcomings or doing its homework to see what reliable surveys exist. TV3 must be very pleased with the free publicity, though.
Two opportunities for public comment that will expire soon, and where StatsChat readers might have something to say
- Stats New Zealand wants to hear from people who use Census data. They have a questionnaire on how you use the data, and how this might be affected if they change the Census in various ways. It’s open until Friday May 3
- Public submissions on the new ‘legal highs’ bill close on Wednesday May 1. The bill is here. You can make a submission here. The Drug Foundation have a description and recommendations here.
This sort of public comment is qualitative, rather than quantitative. Neither the Select Committee nor Stats New Zealand is likely to count up the number of submissions taking a particular view and use this as a population estimate, because that would be silly. What they should be aiming for is a qualitatively exhaustive sample, one that includes all the arguments for or against the bill, or all the different ways people use Census data.
If you want to get Australian census summary data, you can download it from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, or buy a DVD for A$250.
An article in iTNews explains why someone might pay rather than downloading
“You have to click to download each pack individually, and they’ve set the site up deliberately to make it difficult to use a browser plugin to download everything that is contained on the released DVD image,” Bowland told iTNews.
Or, the data release is now available using bittorrent, thanks to Bowland, who bought the DVD (this is perfectly legit: the data are Creative Commons licenced).
Stuff has a story “Dishonest Kiwi Travellers”, based on a survey press release from Hotels.com. The survey asked people if they had stolen things from hotels and used the responses to rank countries by honesty, with the travellers who denied taking things being rated more honest than the ones who admitted it (rather than the other way around).
Fortunately it doesn’t really matter how honest the responses were, since if you follow a few links you can find a press release for the Canadian part of the survey, which admits
In a recent survey hotels.com® asked its Canadian email subscribers , including those in Quebec, about what they look for in hotel accommodations, and you might be surprised at what they had to say.
Or in other words, it’s a bogus poll.
The Herald has produced this Stat of the Week nomination
The obvious problem is that the percentages add up to about 170%, not 100%. That’s why the bar labelled “41.8%” is only about 1/4 of the circle.These are not mutually exclusive categories, and in fact someone who is in one of these categories is actually more likely to be in others.
The most interesting results from the underlying data would be about which purchases go together. Is there an more-or-less consistent ordering of things so that someone who buys food and beverages online will also buy reading materials and electronics online, or is it more complicated? That’s probably the sort of information that Roy Morgan Research would like to sell you, with the overall proportions as a teaser — selling detailed survey reports is their business.
On the other hand, while the ribbon adding up to a full circle is irrelevant because there isn’t a meaningful total, it’s hard to get very worked up about it. A table, or a ‘forest plot’ of points and margin of error would be a bit more informative — it’s not clear what the margin of error in the smaller categories is like.
I’m slightly more worried about the fact that reading isn’t counted as leisure, somewhat more worried that it’s news that more people use the internet now than ten years ago, and much more worried that the graph says it refers to 4977 people but the text of the story says 12000 people.