Oops, they may have made the data up

by Russ Roberts on June 29, 2010

in Data

Remember that Daily Kos poll that showed Republicans are dangerous, evil, loons?

Mark Thoma quotes Bruce Bartlett who quotes a poll that shows Republicans are crazy. They think that Obama should be impeached, ACORN stole the 2008 election and other implausible or ugly “partisan” views. According to the poll,  24% of Republicans think OBama wants the terrorists to win. Another 33% aren’t sure if he does or not. Frightening.

I went on to say that given that the poll was from the Daily Kos, maybe it wasn’t so objective. In my class on thinking about numbers, we discussed how inconsistent the poll was with other polls that had similar questions. It just didn’t pass the sniff test. Now comes word that Research 2000, the organization that the Daily Kos commissioned for the survey, didn’t exactly follow the scientific method. From the Daily Kos:

We contracted with Research 2000 to conduct polling and to provide us with the results of their surveys. Based on the report of the statisticians, it’s clear that we did not get what we paid for. We were defrauded by Research 2000, and while we don’t know if some or all of the data was fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition, we know we can’t trust it. Meanwhile, Research 2000 has refused to offer any explanation.

Read the whole post for more details. It isn’t clear which surveys were fraudulent. Maybe all of them. Or maybe some. Fraud can happen to anyone. But confirmation bias always make fraud easier. I wonder what really happened at Research 2000. Were they just trying to save money or make their clients happy? Both, probably.

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