Thursday, January 22, 2004

More Phony Statistics The folks over at Agape Press have posted this article with the alarming headline "Study: Liberal Professors Suppress Opposing Views in Class." As evidence they point to a study conducted by the Independent Women's Forum.

Now, the Independent Women's Forum is a hard-right organization, which all by itself calls into question the results of the study. But if you then follow the links to the study itself, you realize just how silly this headline is.

The opening paragraph of the study is as follows:

"Over a four-day period in early winter 2003, the Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) conducted an Internet study of the attitudes and political ideologies of today’s college students. We collected 727 Internet surveys from a nationally representative sample of men and women between the ages of 18 and 24 providing fascinating insight into the 2004 Presidential Election, George W. Bush’s job performance, and ideological diversity in the classroom. "

Nothing in the subsequent pages of data gives any indication of how these 727 students were chosen, the colleges they represent, or the majors they have chosen to pursue, all of which are relevant to an assesment of political bias in the classroom. One also gets the impression that this was a voluntary response survey. On day two of any statistics class students are, quite properly, taught to disregard such surveys. They only measure the responses of people who care enough to actually respond to an internet survey, and those people tend to be losers anyway.

I can't speak with any confidence about humanities classes, but in math and science classes professors are usually thirlled to have their students say anything in class, even if it is just to disagree with some opinion the professor offered. The folks at Agape Press probably consider it a form of oppression any time evolution is brought up, without giving equal time to the latest creationist balderdash. Somehow, I suspect they "knew" the results of the survey before it was actually conducted.

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