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ABCs Langer on Misreporting of Survey Data


Gary Langer, the Director of Polling at ABC News, has posted a review of four recent examples of "flat footed" misreporting of "scientific" survey data. It should be required reading for reporters, bloggers, students and anyone else that writes about survey data.

Langer's examples involve recent studies on napping, adoption and spouseless women that all had a "common point:"

[T]hey appear to have been well-constructed and based on good-quality data. That elevates them above all the manufactured junk data that clamors at our doors and all too often insinuates itself into our news reports. But still the reporting on these studies is not what it could have been.

One take-away is that news organizations -- including this one -- need to sharpen their efforts to report scientific studies accurately. Another is that, as a news consumer, when you see a report on a study that's of particular interest, you might take advantage of the beauty of the Internet -- and click through to the study itself.

Amen. And go read it all.

Fort those who looking to follow Gary Langer's advice, here are links to the relevant surveys from the American Sociological Review (adoption), the 2005 American Community Study (spouseless women) and the Archives of Internal Medicine (napping).

 

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