June 22, 2009
The Stat Police
A story from NPR's On the Media:
Politicians and journalists frequently cite statistics that are misleading, derived from dubious studies, or simply plucked out of thin air. So the U.K. has done something novel: they’ve created a new government agency to ensure that those all-important stats aren't fudged for political purposes. Chairman of the U.K. Statistics Authority, Sir Michael Scholar, explains what they do.
Transcript available here Monday (6/22/09) afternoon.
May 14, 2009
Political Manipulation of the Census has been Rejected throughout the course of American history
Report: Political Manipulation of the Census has been Rejected throughout the course of American history
Source: U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (GOP)
A report released by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Republican staff examining the Constitutional foundation and history of the U.S. Census concludes that while the latest attempt by the White House to politicize the Census, though not entirely unprecedented, is unlikely to succeed.
“When it comes to the Census, history demonstrates that political gamesmanship has always been the losing proposition,” the report concludes. “Dating from before the founding of the United States through the present, there have been Census debates over everything from Constitutional issues and types of ‘estimation’ to reapportionment. In each and every debate, however, the politics of interference in and manipulation of the Census lose out to independence.”
The report’s release comes in advance of the scheduled Friday confirmation hearing of Census Director nominee Robert Groves who must explain how his leadership will result in an apolitical count that fully meets all Constitutional requirements. Questions about Groves’ ability to lead the Census Bureau have recently been raised by his decision to single out Congressional Republicans – while excluding Congressional Democrats – for criticism in a May 7, 2009 Associated Press story.
September 22, 2008
Rememberance for Calvin Beale, Rural Demographer
National Public Radio's Sunday Morning Edition aired a remembrance for Calvin Beale, a longtime demographer in the Agricultural Department. Beale fundamentally changed Federal policy and funding in the 1970's by testing his demographic data against reality. He found, by visiting over 2,400 counties during his 55 year career, that rural American was growing, not declining:
He saw that long before we saw it in the data, because he was out and about. And for a nation that was focused on growth, much of rural America had essentially been written off as a declining place. But what Calvin showed was that rural America was growing again. And it made policymakers on a lot of fronts begin to think about not just decline and how to cushion it, but about growth and how to help manage it.
-- Kenneth Johnson, University of New Hampshire
You may hear the full story and watch a clip from Jim Wildman's profile, "On the Rural Road", here.
July 21, 2008
Survey Finds Citations Growing Narrower as Journals Move Online
New research shows that as more scholarly and research journals are available online, researchers cite fewer, newer papers. Findings appear in the July 18 issue of Science magazine.
Related article in the same issue.
March 10, 2008
Pam Smock Comments on Gender Gap in Housework
Pamela Smock, a University of Michigan sociologist, is quoted in a NYT article, "Men Who Do Housework May Get More Sex." Commenting on the findings that men are assuming a greater share of housework, although they still lag women, she noted a persistent gender gap remains for 'invisible' household work -- e.g., scheduling children's medical appointments, buying the gifts they take to birthday parties, arranging holiday gatherings.