Understanding Report Statistics – An upcoming White Paper

Pardon the lack of relative dormancy here over the past couple weeks.  Things have been rather busy around here.

Nevertheless, I want to make you aware of a recent white paper we will be releasing on being a smart consumer and reader of statistics.  This white paper is sparked in part by a recent report we released on city services provided by Metro Government here in Louisville.  The study showed that while Police, EMS, and Fire services are generally highly looked upon here, Waste and Transportation services are not to such a high degree.

The report was released and subsequent stories were published on it.  It made headlines on the Courier Journal.  Like usual, however, it sparked a debate over the validity of the results, namely in reference to how the data was gathered.  We found that much of the community does not understand the way random sampling works – how we can collect a sample of 1,092 residents randomly throughout the city and that be representative of the entire community.  In essence, if they weren’t personally asked, then how can we say, for instance, that 91% of Louisville is highly satisfied with Fire services.

Without starting a new discourse on random sampling, the point of the matter here is that such reports can only be useful if they are understood by those who read it.  The audience must be educated to facts of statistics, and that is partly the task of the researchers.

Be on the lookout for our white paper, which we will undoubtedly post a link to on here once published.

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