Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hiding In Plain Sight, or, Self-Reliance is Alive and Well and Living in Real America

In "The Lost Demographic" Merv at Prairie Pundit shares an eye-opening article about statistical analysis that made me laugh out loud:

" About a year ago, executives at CNBC were alarmed to discover that they’d suddenly lost one-third of their audience. They couldn’t figure it out; news programming, as a rule, attracts the 25- to 54-year-old demographic.

"So the network delved into the data with the Nielsen Company and made a startling finding: That missing one-third was, in fact, still there. They were no longer being counted as viewers, because they’d turned 55.

They had just turned invisible,” says Alan Wurtzel, president of research at NBC Universal. “ Read it all...

This says a lot about ... a lot. All analysis is dependent on the assumptions one starts out with. Data can be clean as a whistle and clear as a bell, the researcher can be smart as a whip, but if the operating assumptions are wrong, the results will always be as wrong as wrong can be.

And the production of valid assumptions can't be formulized. Effective assumptions are ultimately reliant on very non-scientific intuition, hunches, and educated guesses by people with a talent for seeing connections and thinking for themselves.

One writer with a talent for noticing the connections is David P Goldman, who, under his nom de plume Spengler writes in the Asia Times that "Longevity gives life to Tea Party":

"In fact, the Tea Party is a triumph of economic rationality over lack of talent: its reason for being is so compelling and so clear that it has succeeded despite the silliness of some of its candidates. ..."

"Elite commentators tend to dismiss the Tea Party as a mob of engaged boos. On the contrary, pollster Scott Rasmussen, reports, the Tea Partiers tend to be older than 45, married, wealthier and better educated than the general population, and concerned first of all with federal spending and deficits.

"The most important thing to know about such people is that there are more of them than ever before in American history." Read it all...

True grassroots events such as the Tea Party occur not because of group-think or external engineering - just the opposite, in fact.

The self reliant person is not a loner or a loose cannon, but a hero and a leader: one whose decision to stand or act is made by trusting himself to succeed, whatever it takes, without waiting for someone else to join in the task or tell him what to do. One who knows it is up to him.

The Tea Party is the result of multitudes of healthy, successful individuals independently looking at our national problems, independently reaching the conclusions that (1) their own assumptions are valid and (2) the mandated or reported group-think position cannot produce correct results because it relies wholly on inaccurate assumptions.

Once the assumptions are correct, then data analysis can begin to produce accurate results.

Making such an admission comes hard for people caught up in the sheepfold. But not for the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, and the rest of us ordinary Americans of every color and heritage who are accustomed to thinking our own thoughts, selecting our own assumptions and doing our own research to reach our own accurate and trustworthy conclusions.

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