Tagged: The Current
Harper spokespeople argue that sending the voluntary census long form to a larger number of people will compensate for any loss of data quality due to the newly voluntary nature of the form. Milan Ilnyckyj explains the fallacy.
One of the biggest challenges in statistics is collecting a representative sample: finding a subset of the population that will do a good job of approximating the whole group. When a dataset contains a lot of sampling bias and is not reflective of the general population, it is essentially worthless as a guide. That cannot be fixed by using a larger sample size, nor can it be dealt with via fancy mathematics.
The classic example of sampling bias is the ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ headline, from the Chicago Tribune in 1948. The newspaper got their prediction wrong because they sampled people with telephones, at a time when telephones were comparatively rare. Most of the people who had them were rich, and rich people were more supportive of Dewey. As a consequence, telephone polling provided bad information about the likely voting behaviour of the whole population.
While on the census fiasco, Jim Brown, guest host of CBC Radio’s The Current, was uncharacteristically ill-prepared this morning for his interview with Conservative sock-puppet Tim Powers. He let Powers float unchallenged from one specious talking point to another, even letting him equate the supposed intrusiveness of a standard census question about the number of bedrooms in a respondent’s house to Pierre Trudeau’s decision to repeal laws outlawing private homosexual acts. If you’re going to guest host a national show, you need a passing familiarity with recent Canadian history, and you need to bone up on the issues of the day. Brown is usually better than this.
Arch-conservative David Frum stiffed CBC Radio’s flagship The Current this morning [see update below], failing at the last minute to show up for a heavily promoted interview on his reincarnation as a thoughtful moderate. The program was forced to recycle a dumpster diving documentary in place of what I fear would have been the latest in a series of fawning interviews.
Let’s hope this will, in Canada at least, slow the media juggernaut bent on canonizing Frum as discerning paragon of moderation.
Frum, as the saying goes, was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. His father was a wealthy dentist turned wealthier real estate developer; his mother was, well, you know who is mother was. At a time when right wing media barons were ascendant in Canada, young Frum fashioned a public career rooted in contempt for people (and regions) who don’t measure up to his own social Darwinist attainments.
Of late, he has bravely shown distaste for those who paint rifle targets on images of America’s first black president. He evokes mild embarrassment at keeping intellectual company with the likes of talk show bully Rush Limbaugh. He blows hot and cold on ditzy Sarah Palin. This makes him moderate only to those whose political spectrum equates birther whack jobs with such leftist radicals as Barack Obama.
Check the record: Frum staunchly opposes public health care. If it were up to him, wealthy people would buy their own care, middle class people would be OK until their insurance ran out or was canceled due to illness, and the poor and those with pre-existing conditions could rely on charity, thank you very much. He fought to preserve a system that produces the worst health outcomes in the industrialized world (and a pretty good swath of the developing world).
He opposed Supreme Court nominee Harriet Meirs because she was insufficiently pro life.
In justifying his vote to put Palin an old man’s heartbeat away from the oval office, he wrote: “It says something important that so many millions of people respond to her as somebody who incarnates their beliefs and values. At a time when the great American middle often seems to be falling further and further behind, there may be a special need for a national leader who represents and symbolizes that middle.” Oh my.
Saint David? Hold the holy water, please.
[UPDATE: Frum apparently made it in time for the Eastern Time Zone and later editions of the show.]