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It Ain't Nescessarily So...Ch 4-5...

Ch 4: The Perils of Proxies...
One thing that I learned from this chapter is that research done by different organizations can often foster very diverse results. Ex: An activit group may have very different results from a study than a governement organization. This largely depends on the selection of the people interviewed. The activists may only interview people that they feel may have the same beliefs as them, where as the government may present a more well rounded account from various people.

Proxies, are unlike direct measurement. They are estimations or approximations that have been gathered from looking at research. Both social and natural sciences employ proxies and they are used when the true measuement of something can no be done. Though the implementation of proxies in social sciences can be rather problematic. A very large issue in this chapter was the problem of defining hunger and poverty. This came into question several times as I read.

Hunger proxies, as discussed by Lou and Erin are very much so subject to the opinion of the reader in the context of each given article. In all cases it is better to measure things as accurately as possible, but hunger is an especially heated topic. Proxies are only bad if they are fatally flawed which can happen when researchers measure the wrong thing or when reporters ask the wrong questions. In many hunger/poverty studies the proxies are inaccurate. I enjoyed the last sentence of the chapter that really defined the idea behind proxies and said something along the lines of 'the reporter shouldn't say how many, but rather explain proxies and how the researcher came to that conclusion'.

In regard to Lou's presentation about the Halloween proxy that asked whether children today were afraid of Halloween, I believe that this is another one of those issues that can be debated through out time. It all depends on the types of questions that the parents and children are asked. And more importantly it depends on each persons definition of being scared. If a child cries in the haunted house is it because he/she is scared or upset about something totally different.

Chapter 5: Is The Glass Half Empty or Half Full?
I can honestly say that after seeing Michael's presentation on colors I better understand the way in which people can apply statistics in order to show what they want people to see. I mean, its all relative when you think about it.

Here is a quote that reminded me a little bit about this unit. I am not sure why, but it stuck in my head over the years. It is from a television show. The scene is that a history teacher is telling this to his students and doing a little bit of revisionist history. I felt that it tied into the idea of journalists as well as scientists skewing facts and proxies and purposely trying to convey a personal belief to a larger group through news/reports.

"FACT: Fidel Castro dressed up as Marilyn Monroe and gave President Kennedy a case of syphilis so bad that it eventually blew off the back of his head!" -Stephen Colbert as Chuck Noblet on Strangers With Candy.

Comments (4)

I'm glad you saw the presentation the way you did Leslie. It's good to see that people understood the point I was trying to get across!

By the way, both my kids enjoyed SHU's Haunted House. I appreciate that the participants focused on action and fun. Since I'm away at a conference tonight, and didn't get to go Trick-or-Treating with my kids, I was glad to be able to take them to SHU.

Leslie Rodriguez:

I really enjoyed the presentation. You were able to incorporate a current and relate it to the reading we were doing. That is the type of engaging thing that people like in presentations.

I'm glad your children enjoyed the haunted house. I have a few friends that were working there and they told me that this year it was much more child-friendly. In the past there have been complaints from parents that it was too scary. I hope you had a Happy Halloween. =)

Leslie i can also understand better on the way people read and take surveys and research after Michaels presentation. I mean the math part went way over my head, but i actually understood what he meant when he talked about re-doing surveys and keeping the same numbers as last time and just slightly altering them a bit. I'm glad im not the only one that was in awe about this.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 28, 2005 12:25 PM.

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