Lies, Stastics and Reporters with an Agenda

The ODT has a new site, and on it one of there reporters throws inuendo at DPF’s company, Curia.

At University, the first time round, I majored in rugby and cricket, and minored in “social studies”.

Somewhere along the line, one or two tidbits of knowledge were assimilated.

In industrial mathematics, one lesson was repeatedly rammed home: there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

…Without going through it in detail, it found that 48% of parents with children under 12 said they had smacked their children in the past year.

Launching the poll results, Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said: “For a new law to be ignored by so many people who are willing to risk a police or CYF investigation indicates just how out of step with reality this law is.”

He might equally have said: “Fifty-two percent of parents have abided by the new law, when a year ago, 78% said they would not.”

He could have made the point that of the 48% (out of about 250 parents of children under 12 in the total respondent sample of 1018), few, if any, had been prosecuted under the new law, and fears it would lead to a rash of prosecutions have proved groundless.

Mr McCoskrie could also have been a little more transparent about who conducted the research on his organisation’s behalf.

It was a company called Curia Market Research. Curia is owned by David Farrar. Mr Farrar, in another guise, runs the Right-leaning Kiwiblog.

He has consistently [that’s actually arguable – S1] opposed the child discipline amendment and other Labour-led initiatives, including the Electoral Finance Act. He is perfectly entitled to do so.

…So, let me see if I’ve got the hang of this.

Prominent pro-smacking lobby group employs prominent pro-smacking “activist” to provide market research designed to emphasise a statistically validated message?In today’s spin-spun world, that’s probably par for the course.

All the same, it does lend Family First’s most recent headline-making poll an interesting twist.

David Responds.

I would also make the point that the vast majority of our polls for clients are not for publication. They are for their internal decision making. The quote about making sure the questions asked will be of maximum benefit is not in relation to getting the result you want, but having non-leading and non-biased questions. It is in fact the exact opposite of what you imply. One of the largest parts of my job is rewriting draft questions from clients into more neutral language. I could regale you with stories of questions clients have wanted to ask.

Family First have published my full report to them, which allows you to see the exact questions asked. Rather than imply biased questions on the basis of my personal views, why not actually critique the questions asked as they were available to you. If someone wants to argue the questions are leading, then I would happily debate that, but it is hard to debate implications.

Ouch. Read the whole thing.

David does well to shine the brightest possible light on some very dishonest writing. Frankly if I owned a newspaper and a reporter wrote a piece implying what this guy did, when the answer to his questions were publicity available, He’d be shown the door.

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