Probably no one is more suprised than than Sweater Vest Man Harper (with bathing trunks? - who seems to be in Witness Protection these days, btw) by the brouhaha that has arisen over the current blatant attempt by his radical band of racists, fundamentalists and separatists to facilitate the PsuedoCon drive to divorce public policy from REALITY.
Most people have absolutely NO interest in statistics, and see even less value in statistics than mathematics in general. At least regular arithematic and geometry can be useful for things like measuring the land you own or for counting who has the most toys. The main thing most folks know about statistics is the famous quote by Mark Twain or Will Rogers about "lies, damn lies and statistics!" Along with the lack of interest most people harbour not only fear and distrust, but a dearth of understanding of statisticians and the use of the fruits of their labours.
I'm no statistician, but as a result of my youthful (and more recent) studies in fields where they are a common and necessary tool, I at least have a basic understanding of how they work and why they are necessary. Nowadays statistics aren't relegated to just the social sciences either as the more we delve into the sub-atomic realms the more the statistical approach becomes the only approach to even so-called physical reality - as in quantum physics.
However we have a pretend government (with about a third of the nation's support) in Ottawa that has absolutely NO USE for facts - after all, all the facts they need are in the bible and Stockwell Day's grand daddy really did used to walk to school with his pet dinosaur. Millions of years of sedimentary layers and light years worth of astronomical observations be damned, every fact we need to know has been collected and collated into the New and Old Testament and WE HAVE AN AGENDA!
Now the best way to collect information upon which to base policy would be to ask EVERYBODY every question deemed relevant, no sample just a complete survey of everybody. Of course with 34,000,000 people, the results of such a survey would be obsolete by the time it was completed, if it even could be done. That is the reason that those who developed the math/science of statistics have come up with a tool called a random sample.
- Random Sample:
- A sample in which each unit has an equal and independent chance of selection. Also known as probability sample.
Now, in spite of the fact that the so-called (non-existent) intrusiveness, coerciveness and privacy concerns trumpeted by even those few members like Clement and Prentiss, who I suspect have functioning grey matter - but have to parrot the boss' line or look for new employment, the fact is, once an element of self-selection (ie. voluntary) is injected to the process the randomness goes out the window and the over, or under represented members of the cohort most likely aren't even detectable. So you could entirely miss a segment of the sample that couldn't understand the instructions, were afraid to answer for whatever reason and perhaps have a preponderance of responders with an axe to grind related to one of the questions.
Let's get real about the intrusiveness and coerciveness. I feel pretty coerced by having to FILL OUT an inexplicably LONG and byzantine TAX FORM and perhaps even remit some of MY MONEY along with it upon completion - but the last time I looked, I would be fined AND/OR imprisoned for failure to comply. Then with the few that are actually in support of the HarperCons on this is the horror that "government" should know how many bathrooms or bedrooms they have in their home. Well, I wonder if those people are living in a home that was built with a building permit - they ask really personal and INTRUSIVE questions like that and they ask for money - indeed, they INSIST on a map (drawings) of your entire home - or you are fined, or maybe the project is condemned - I haven't heard of anyone going to jail for building code violations unless they caused injury or death - but then they went to jail for negligence really.
It's not easy to find support for the psuedo government's attack on data and reality other than at the rag Convict Black started to bleed money and promote the neo-con agenda, the National Post and their almost incoherent mouth breathing comment droppers (droppings being the operative term here). Or one could dip into that cesspool of rabid incoherence presided over by the cigar wielding walrus in a suit and his fawning sycophants, genuine and imaginary, over at Rubbish without a Pause . There the ego-maniac in charge, who thinks Harper is a great Prime Minister by the way, thinks that the whole exercise is a Harper masterstroke of sanity, and of almost no importance (then why not take some time to implement the change Tony, Alex and Stevie?) - part of his biased when barely coherent drivel on the subject goes in part:
The Long-Form Census Flap: Much Ado About Everything That Amounts to Nothing
I am as absolutely delighted that the mandatory long form is being scrapped by the Tories as I am that last year’s swimming trunks either need the attention of my tailor Fernando, or I really have lost a few pounds.
Why do you care how I get to work and by which mode of travel? I wouldn’t soon care if anyone arrived by glider, Vespa or horse-drawn carriage.
Jeeeez AGT, who builds (and has to decide where they are needed) the roads, rails, bridges or whatever other infrastructure you need for your "glider, Vespa or horse-drawn carriage" or actual gas guzzling, pollution spewing, resource wasting SUV (and place to park it for its next assault on the air we all breathe) - YOU? And by the way, if you and many other people commute to work downtown by horse-drawn carriage, perhaps we need either government or some alert businessperson to provide a stable for while you're working? I will agree that just because government has good, accurate informaton we can't necessarily expect good policy - but without it it is certainly easier to defend bad policy because you then can define your own reality (jeez, sounds just like Dick Cheney)!
I will probably post soon to discuss the various groups and people for and against the current proposal - but it will take some time to find enough coherent support ("logical support" for Steve's move being such a perfect example of oxymoronic) to even give the slightest impression of being "Fair and Balanced," and too easy to be accused of mocking people by using their own words.
I think it is intrusive and COERCIVE that I risk a fine or imprisonment (and even an increased mandatory sentence if the great Harper has his way) if I would like to cultivate a certain herb in my garden or partake in what some folks consider its beneficial qualities. As I recall, Ian Bush faced some extreme intrusion and coercive action for his transgression of enjoying a fucking beer, unfortunately in a public place between periods of a hockey game. Yep, he was imprisoned briefly, but then summarily executed.
Then the defenders go on to say we are doing what the marketers themselves do, and if they want more, it should be up to them and oh yeah, by the way, their polls, surveys etc. are voluntary. Sure sounds sensible, don't it? Talk to any business man with his head not up Harper's or his own ass or ANY actual pollster, who had to have studied SOME statistics and they will point out that they use the results of the national MANDATORY census to correct for the impossible to avoid errors that will exist in their voluntary exercise. Hell even the means of reaching the respondents will contort the results and stop the sample from being random. If it is conducted via the phone book, it will miss youth who are cell phone only and thus not in the directory. Mail-outs? What about folks with general delivery, ALL OF THEM or NONE of THEM - after all, it isn't up to the postmaster/misstress to try and impose randomness on their sample.
The CBC weighed in the day that Tony Clement instantly rubbed off the sheen he had gathered by trying to save a drowning woman over the weekend by avoiding questions or making up stuff before a parliamentary committee on Tuesday. They had interviews with both Munir Sheihk and his predecessor Dr. Felligi - no supporters apparently being willing to look stoopid outside the committee room - and discussed the results of their online (VOLUNTARY and self-selecting) poll on the issue. According to the talking head 81% of Canadians were opposed to the changes with a mere 19% being in favor. Then the Mother Corp, this bastion of left wingnuttery and Harper bashing (well that's what they reich wingnuts constantly maintain) posted four of the comments on the issue from the website. The first three were from rabid opponents, afraid of big brother (the first from guess where? Alberta) and only the last was a very mild statement of support for those (doctors, municipalities, all provinces except ours, most business big and small, churches, social workers, ad infinitum) who oppose dropping the mandatory long form. So poll results 81% opposed - 19% for. Comments selected by the CBC for broadcast on the news 25% opposed - 75% for - there's that "liberal" bias.....whaaat?
I'll probably have more to say on this issue as I believe it really shows that Emperor Harper has no clothes and the reason they are doing this is clear and not the reason they claim. A moment of clarity, a teaching moment that shows the Harper government and agenda in the bright light of day with its pants down. Also the integrity shown by Dr. Sheihk and the gracious manner in which he dislayed it with his letter and in testifying before the committee was something to behold that we don't see enough of these days and deserves some discussion as well. By the way, Dr. Sheihk's resignation letter has apparently been already removed from the StatsCan website - but those who would like to read it can find it here - so screw you Steve.