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View Diary: Right-Wing Propaganda Masquerades as a High School Economics Curriculum (160 comments)

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  •  Here's an excerpt from the very first article. (4+ / 0-)
    In the summer of 2007, 200 participants were brought to a computer laboratory in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, to complete a survey soliciting their political, personality and demographic information subsequent to their having been contacted by phone at random by a professional survey organization. Though in no way a representative sample, this group has the advantage of not being restricted to college undergraduates and, relatedly, having reasonably representative demographic characteristics given the target population: mean age 1⁄4 42; 52 per cent female; mean income in the $40 000 – 60 000 range; and mean educational level 1⁄4 some college. These 200 were intended to serve as a pool from which smaller groups could be culled for physiological testing. The particular group employed in the analysis here consisted of 48 individuals who were called back later that summer. They were selected because of availability and because they were the individuals most clearly falling on either the political left or the political right according to the survey responses provided during their first visit. Participants were paid $50 for each of their two separate trips to the laboratory. The data on two participants had to be removed, one owing to a health issue, the other owing to a mechanical problem with a sensor.
    Two things, bolded for convenience.  They note that the 200 people selected for the study are not representative of the population at large.  They then proceeded to ignore this fact, justifying their process by saying they did have some obvious qualities that did happen to represent the population in some ways.

    Second, the study uses an even smaller group of individuals than that.  Leaving out people whom did not fit into a narrowly defined criteria.  Which also would make this non-representative of the population at large.

    The conclusion?  This study is not representative of the target population.  It cannot claim to have found anything other than a statistical quirk among a group of cherry-picked individuals.

    Of course, there are lots of other articles at that link and I don't have time to read all of them in detail.  But that one article reminds me of this talk (entertaining video, by the way, highly recommended).

    Lastly, science works by a process of confirmation via many, many studies, built up over a period of time, testing the same hypothesis.  All these hypothesis at the link are different from one another, and as someone who desires to be as scientific as possible, I am required to be especially skeptical of those claims which I may find especially appealing.

    I remain skeptical.

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