Dienstag, Februar 10, 2009

You Are Not Entitled To Your Own Facts, or, It Borders On Overt Political Corruption

I see a certain meme developing. It has been for some time.

One of the critical failures of the Global Warming movement has been its inability to control data. Critics have, time and time again, gone back to the data and done yeoman work in identifying where, for instance, Mann went wrong (inappropriate use of smoothing techniques), and how the urbanization of the US has, given the fixed nature of many measurement sites and their very poor maintenance, led to a warming bias in the original, unmodified data that points not to global warming, but rather to urbanization.

The Global Warming religionists haven't completed admitted it yet, but they are not entitled to their own facts. This is a fundamental, and their manipulation of the facts will prove to be their wrong-doing. It's a political thing, really: there is too much money involved for it not to be.

Now we see a second development showing up with the same basic meme: the US Census.

As an economist, Census data is about the closest thing we have to reality. Most don't realize this, but there is a fundamental rule with good economists and statisticians: Do Not Mess With The Census Data.

Seriously. There are too many things calculated from this data for there to be even a tinge of manipulation or fiddling about: it is the closet thing we as economists and statisticians have to reality.

So what does Obama do?

See this.

This is bordering on over political corruption: Obama and his administration want to take control of the 2010 Census. No President has ever done so. Ever.

Obama appointed a Republican, Judd Gregg, to be the Commerce Secretary, who normally runs the Census. Gregg has given the Democrats in the past a hard time on the Census. Rahm Emanuel will, basically, be in a decision-making position about how the Census will operate, and that means that the Democrats, in defiance of many working at Census, will want to try what the Clinton Administration tried to do: use survey and estimates to get the numbers, rather than actual counting.

This Is A Very Bad Idea.


Because this is how standard statistics are gathered: you ask a small group (statistical population) within a large group (statistical universe) and use a factor to get from the population to the universe. Good statisticians change that population every time they take a sampling; bad ones keep on using the same population. Good ones check their sample to ensure that it is representational; bad ones don't.

But what is used as the benchmark?

You got it: the Census.

Change the Census from universe to population, and all you have left is ... a sample. You no longer know your statistical universe. You can guess at it, but you cannot know it. Errors creep in, and your view of the world becomes biased in ways that you can never know, since you no longer have contact with reality.

This Is A Very Bad Idea.

Look, no one is entitled to their own facts. You can have differences of opinions about the facts, but no one may dare mess with the facts. To introduce politics - which to me seems quite clear, both back when Clinton tried to do it, and now - into the data is downright criminal.

To quote from the above link:

"The Census is supposed to be not only outside of politics, but transparent," said Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "This implies that President Obama intends on getting a count to his liking. It borders on overt political corruption."

Not good. Keep tuned, and watch what the Democrats and the Obama White House try to do with the Census. It was a bad idea under Clinton, and it's gonna be a worse one under Obama.


Ted hat gesagt…

Now, here's an example of chutzpah: The Republicans didn't get their act together enough to challenge Obama for not being constitutionally qualified to be President as an Article 2 "natural born citizen" so Obama's White House steals the census from the Commerce Department against the specific instructions of the constitution itself -- "actual enumeration" under Article 1

Anonym hat gesagt…

Well John, having helped take the Census in 2000 I can state from direct experience the process has strong bias built in which distorts the data. The raw data is not a true unbiased sample.

/Jim 'eeeb'

John F. Opie hat gesagt…

Jim -

Sorry, was away for a few days...

The difference between what the Obama Administration wants to do and the bias of the original data is that the second in a knowable error: the first is a deliberate distortion for political gains.

Big difference, that...