What Happens When Congressmen Don’t Understand Statistics
Last week the House of Representatives eliminated the American Community Survey, an extension of the Census that is used by government and businesses alike. There is so much wrong with this decision that it would take pages to document it (or you could click through). I want to focus on one reason given for the elimination given by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fl).
“We’re spending $70 per person to fill this out. That’s just not cost effective,” he continued, “especially since in the end this is not a scientific survey. It’s a random survey.”
One of the first things you learn in statistics is that randomness is the gold standard for a survey (I have no idea what he means by a “scientific survey”. Randomness is the way you assure that your sample is representative of the population you are examining. I often rant about how poor American understanding of very basic statistics is and the cost of this poor understanding. Apparently the confusion includes some of our highest officheolders and the cost is awful policy decisions.