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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Nov > Nov 3

Re: Seeking the Truth Through Savvy Marketing

From: John Cussen <john.cussen.nul>
Date: Sun, 3 Nov 2002 18:25:33 +0000
Archived: Sun, 03 Nov 2002 10:31:39 -0400
Subject: Re: Seeking the Truth Through Savvy Marketing


>From: David Rudiak <DRudiak.nul>
>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2002 18:07:10 -0800
>Subject: Re: Seeking the Truth Through Savvy Marketing

>>From: John Cussen <john.cussen.nul>
>>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>>Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2002 00:33:04 +0000
>>Subject: Re: UFOs: Seeking the Truth Through Savvy Marketing

>>>From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
>>>To: - UFO UpDates Subscribers -
>>>Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 18:14:07 -0500
>>>Subject: UFOs: Seeking the Truth Through Savvy Marketing

>>>http://www.space.com/news/ufo_poll_021025.html

>>>UFOs: Seeking the Truth Through Savvy Marketing By Leonard
>>>David Senior Space Writer

><snip>

>>>This week, calls for the U.S. government to be more
>>>forthcoming on what it knows about UFOs increased following
>>>the release of the poll results. That RoperASW study,
>>>sponsored by the SCI FI Channel, shows that 72% of Americans
>>>believe the government is not telling the public everything
>>>it knows about UFO activity.

>>Well, I have to say "savvy marketing" because what this poll
>>actually shows is that the test group from which these
>>statistics were drawn is incredibly disproportionate to the
>>actual size of the American population, and therefore without
>>the justification for the headline-grabbing figures of "72%
>>think THIS".

>>The test group was 1,021 people who were contacted by
>>telephone - let's ignore for now the general response of most
>>people when they are disturbed by what, for all intents and
>>purposes, is a telemarketer; namely "Oh yes, I'll give you an
>>answer that will get you off the phone as quickly as
>>possible". So, 1,021 people out of a population of around 250
>>MILLION people.

>It's called a representative sample. It's done all the time,
>not only with opinion polls but also in industry for quality
>control and in every science you can name.

>>The mathematics show the problem with these kinds of straw
>>polls, assuming the population of America is 250 million:

>The mathematics show the problem is with poster probably not
>having a clue about mathematics.

<snip>

>I don't know if the above post was intended as a joke or not.
>But if not, it is typical of the incredibly inane, pseudo-
>scientific clap-trap that regularly emerges from the British
>pelicanists. If not a joke, then this guy is badly in need of a
>basic course in statistics.

>Sampling is at the heart of statistics and basically says that
>you can get a very good idea about the nature of any population
> as a whole by sampling a representative fraction of it. Thus
>if a drug company wants to get a good idea about the efficacy
>and safety of a new drug, it isn't necessary to test it on all
>6 billion human beings on planet Earth. Testing on 1000 to
>10,000 people will usually be quite sufficient.

<snip>

>However, claiming one needs to ask every single American to get
> an accurate gauge of public opinion is utter nonsense. Where
>do people get such ideas?


Hi David and List,

Thanks for your general refresher on very basic statistics. I
didn't intend my post to hit quite a nerve that it seemed to do
with you, as it's pretty clear that my posting was written with
humour and I hope that you missed this only from my not making
it quite clear enough, rather than from something more severe
than having had a sense of humour bypass. I'll give you the
benefit of the doubt in your less-than-comradely comments about
me, and put them down to something else. ;) (Please note, I've
just used an emoticon to indicate that this was also a good-
natured comment!)

I must confess that I don't know what you mean by suggesting
that my post (if not in humour) is "typical of the incredibly
inane, pseudo-scientific clap-trap that regularly emerges from
the British pelicanists". Am I a pelicanist? I don't know what
that is. I do have more than a basic understanding in
mathematics and statistical analysis, however, including an
understanding of how statistics can be abused for a sales
purpose - which is exactly what this poll is really about.

The point I was making, was that this Roper poll was sponsored
by the SCI FI Channel, and that, to quote the original article
source, the "full poll is to be published next month, just in
time for the science fiction cable network to begin its big
media push for its new show, the Steven Spielberg-produced
TAKEN. The show is set to premiere in December on the SCI FI
Channel". (Full article from SPACE.com at:

http://www.space.com/news/ufo_poll_021025.html

Even the author of this article chose the title "UFOs: Seeking
the Truth Through Savvy Marketing," and I agree with his
implication - that this poll was designed to create interest for
the purpose of selling something. Marketing is notorious for
using the results of polls to influence the prospective consumer
to believe in and then to buy - statistics are massaged to the
seller's advantage. There are numerous cases where this has
happened, and this is unfair because statistical analysis is a
valuable tool.

I didn't intend my post to have been anything more than a
healthily sceptical and good-humoured comment on this very
simple fact. I'm not offended by the fact that the serious
aspects of the UFO and ET subjects were jumped on with the use
of statistics in this way, but it is quite unwise to suggest
that this poll stands up in its own right as a serious
indication of anything other than the fact it was intended to
sell the upcoming broadcast on the SCI FI channel.

If you still hold the view that a poll on 0.0004% of the
population of the US is sufficient to accurately represent the
views of 1 in 3 human beings in terms of beliefs, then you and I
simply disagree on the terms of quantitive and qualititive
analysis techniques, and I can live with that. Different views
always create debate, so long as it stays within respectful and
non-personal boundaries.

Thanks for your input.

John Cussen


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