January 11, 2017

Bogus poll stories, again

We have a headline today in the HeraldNew Zealand’s most monogamous town revealed“.

At first sight you might be worried this is something new that can be worked out from your phone’s sensor data, but no. It’s the result of a survey, and not even a survey of whether people are monogamous, but of whether they say they agree with the statement “I believe that monogamy is essential in a relationship” as part of the user data for a dating site that emphasises lasting relationships.

To make matters worse, this particular dating site’s marketing focuses on how different its members are from the general population.  It’s not going to be a good basis for generalising to “Kiwis are strongly in favour of monogamy

You can find the press release here (including the embedded map) and the dating site’s “in-depth article” here.

It’s not even that nothing else is happening in the world this week.


Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »