Hey, McCoskrie: here’s how you do statistics, not that you didn’t know

I am inclined to snort whenever Bob McCoskrie pulls a statistic out of his boner and claims it shows some kind of mainstream support for his views.  Ditto anyone who still sincerely argues that the “anti-smacking” referendum showed any kind of clear result (for anyone who missed it the first time around, Lyndon Hood’s flowchart remains the best illustration of why it didn’t.)

But I think statistics have a place.  Especially when they back up my own arguments.  It’s not that I’m biased, honestly, it’s just that Bob McCoskrie takes:

69% of people said “yes” to the question “Do you think schools, as part of their sex education programme, should be required to encourage pupils, to abstain from sex until they are old enough to handle the possible consequences of pregnancy?”

And turns it into

69% of kiwis overall [support] the ‘wait’ [i.e. abstinence] message

Whereas Idiot/Savant, for example, takes:

A Herald-DigiPoll showed that 61.2 per cent of the public felt adoption law should be changed to allow all couples, including same-sex couples

And turns it into:

over 60% of kiwis support gay adoption

See the subtle difference?  (And no, saying “over 60%” when “waaaaaa it’s only a LITTLE bit over and you’re trying to sound like it’s nearly two-thirds of people when REALLY it’s actually only slightly nearly two-thirds of people waaaaaa” doesn’t count.)

(Also, Roy Morgan backs it up, and has … rather more cred that Herald DigiPolls, but the point stands.)

Of course, Bob doesn’t really care about people’s actual attitudes, hence his (and the wider religious right’s) love of convoluted, multipart survey questions which rely on people’s innate biases and desire not to reject good propositions just because they’re surrounded by bad propositions (the way you might feel a bit stink about saying no to shagging Clive Owen just because it’s offered as a threesome with Clive Owen and Stellan Skarsgard.  Wait, no, I would totally go there …)

One of these days we’re going to see a headline blaring FAMILY FIRST SURVEY FINDS KIWIS HATE GAY PEOPLE and no journalist in New Zealand is going to bother to take the time (i.e. the five seconds on Google) to figure out that the original question was “Would you, like, kinda hate it if your gay best mate, like, totally kicked a puppy right in front of you?”


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