September 24, 2008

AP ‘Racism’ Report Has Fine-Print Hocus-Pocus Element

On September 20, Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters posted on a misleading Associated Press/Yahoo poll on racism. The poll asserted that if Barack Obama loses, it will be because of “[d]eep-seated racial misgivings” held by “one-third of white Democrats.”

Later that day, NB’s Michael Bates criticized the AP’s report on the poll for its historically inaccurate claim that the US “enshrined slavery into its constitution.”

NB’s Lyndsi Thomas got into the neighborhood of the concern I’m about to note on Sunday, when she noted that the pollsters tried to ferret out racism by asking questions that could be seen as purely political and having nothing to do with race.

But it seems to me that the pollsters engaged in a bit of hocus pocus. These three paragraphs from a story explaining AP’s methodology carried at the Minneapolis Star Tribune gave me that impression:

Since many people are uncomfortable discussing race with pollsters and others they do not know, the poll also used subtler techniques.

For one thing, the survey was conducted online, as have all AP-Yahoo News polls since they began last November. Studies have shown people are more willing to reveal potentially unpopular attitudes on a computer than in questioning by a live interviewer.

The poll also used a technique aimed at measuring what psychologists call “affect misattribution.” This involved showing faces of people of different races quickly on a screen before displaying a neutral image that people were asked to rate as pleasant or unpleasant. Studies have shown that people consciously or unconsciously transfer their feelings about the photograph to the object they are rating.

I think that whether or not people are “more willing to reveal potentially unpopular attitudes on a computer” is highly debatable, especially in regards to race. Sure, you’re afraid of a live interviewer thinking ill of you, but anything you type online, stays online. I’ll bet that some “studies have shown” the opposite of what AP asserts, depending on topic.

As to the “affect misattribution,” I’m supposed to believe that whites will rate a “neutral” image negative if they saw a bunch of faces quickly on a screen just before that. Even if they “transfer their feelings” to the “neutral” image, what in the world does that prove or disprove about voters’ willingness to vote for or against a black presidential candidate?

Having read through AP-Yahoo-Stanford’s full report, I can’t help that the pollsters decided what answer they wanted, and designed polling techniques, including exotic and bizarre ones, to get that result.

Cross-posted at

Things I’d Like to Post About Today ….. (092408, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 9:13 am

….. But I Don’t Have Any Time For (I guess the typo that was here for a couple of hours is why they have editors :–>):

  • National treasure Michelle “She’s Everywhere” Malkin is covering aspects of the financial industry bailout barely anyone else is touching — the impact of illegal-immigrant lending and the additional ornaments (student loans and car loans) being added to the Christmas tree. They’re really testing our limits, aren’t they? Student loans? This looks like double-dipping, because I thought they were already guaranteed by Uncle Sam if they go bad.
  • Not unrelated news — “Democrats have decided to allow a quarter-century ban on drilling for oil off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts to expire next week, conceding defeat in a months-long battle with the White House and Republicans set off by $4 a gallon gasoline prices this summer.” You’ll see why it’s not unrelated in my Pajamas Media column, which will appear tomorrow or Friday. Update: Looks like Friday, but I’m going to bring up topic today on Pajamas TV.
  • I see Warren Buffett is buying assets on the cheap after doing his best to talk down the economy. Nice investment strategy if you have his megaphone.
  • This (“Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac invest in Democrats”; currently experiencing Drudge overload) would keep any other presidential candidate and his party from being self-righteous about the financial industry’s situation — but not “The One” I refer to as “Mr. BOOHOO-OUCH” (Barack O-bomba Overseas HusseinObambiObama – Objectively Unfit Coddler of Haters) and the Democratic Party. According to the Drudge headline, Obama himself raked in over $100K.
  • JammieWearingFool (HT Instapundit) has taken note of the Ohio voting shenanigans of Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.
  • Sound bite of the day — “Credit Is Not a Civil Right.”

Positivity: Husband saved wife by giving her his kidney

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Denton Burn, Newcastle, UK:

Sep 20 2008

THEY share a bond that nobody can break.

Andy Brown proved to his wife that he would be with her in sickness and in health when he made the ultimate sacrifice and risked his life to save hers.

Andy and Kirsty discovered they were the right match, in more ways than one, when Kirsty’s kidney began to fail and her heroic husband offered to give her his.

And now after finding out that the swap-op was a success, Kirsty, 36, has told the Chronicle of her love for the modest man who saved her life.

The mum-of-one, from Denton Burn, Newcastle, said: “It was just the ultimate sacrifice. It is hard to explain the bond there is between us now. He has saved my life. He is a hero.”

Network manager Kirsty has suffered from diabetes since she was eight.

And during a routine blood test in January, it was discovered that one of her kidneys was failing. Kirsty was told that she would need a transplant in the future.

But in March her health began failing fast. As she began a course of dialysis, Kirsty was put on the transplant waiting list and her parents, sister and husband underwent tests to see if any of them could be a suitable donor.

“Andy’s kidney turned out to be a complete match, which is really rare for a non-blood relative,” she explained. “I told him straightaway that if at any time he wanted to pull out it wouldn’t change anything between us, but he was determined to do this. He knew he was saving my life.”

Andy and Kirsty have been married for six years and have a four-year-old daughter called Olivia.

Unlike his wife Andy had never been in hospital before, so Kirsty was at her husband’s side as he was taken to theatre at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

“I was terrified when he went in,” she continued. “I wasn’t bothered about myself, I was just worried about him.”

Kirsty’s new kidney has given her a new lease of life, and she now has the energy to play with her daughter and do all the things she could not while she was ill.

But modest Andy does not think he has done anything special.

“Everybody else can’t believe what he’s done. we all think he’s a hero, but he takes it all in his stride,” said Kirsty.

And Andy said seeing his wife healthy and happy makes it all worthwhile.

“I just wanted to do whatever I could to help Kirsty,” he said. “When I found out I was the perfect match, I had to do it. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.