Faculty members at the University of the Philippines School of Statistics released a statement this week, exposing the widespread abuse of survey methodologies by some entities engaged in their own type of research. Worse, these entities promote their results on social networks.

“We are appalled by their cavalier disregard for data collection principles,” the professors said, pointing the finger at some vloggers, PR firms, individuals and even some media organizations who publish the results of their surveys even though those- these were carried out with unclear methodologies. .

Statisticians have called on the public to criticize the surveys and not accept the results as they are. Consider, they said, the appropriateness of sample size based on, but not limited to, a target margin of error, level of confidence, and the nature of the target population.

Some suggestions from the experts: “How was the sample selected? What sectors of the population, if any, are represented? What events surround the data collection period? Facing an interviewer, was the respondent questioned in a neutral but professional tone? What control mechanisms are in place to ensure the accuracy of data collection protocols? These, they say, are hallmarks of investigations with proper implementation and oversight.

Unfortunately, these details are lost on many Filipinos who, out of sheer laziness, unwillingness to listen to opposing views, or sheer lack of capacity, tend to accept survey results uncritically and become conditioned by them.

Tragically, too, we’re talking to the same groups of people who think YouTube and TikTok are more credible sources of news than court rulings, stories produced by journalists steeped in the rigors of verification, or academic articles based on data. scientists. , historical data, in no way anecdotal.

This is also the same group of people who resort to attacks and name-calling once given suggestions on how to be more circumspect and critical of the information they receive and pass on. .

It’s easy to feel defeated knowing that this low regard for rigor in thought and decision-making will decide the fate of our nation come election day. Yet we persevere – one investigation, one factual nugget, one truth-resistant compatriot at a time. In the long run, perhaps the best places to start a mindset of verification and rigor are in homes and elementary schools, where children are taught not to accept or believe everything they hear or read for money. cash.

It is a truly arduous task ahead of us.

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