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Old 01-26-2019, 10:45 PM
scarface54345 scarface54345 is offline
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Does the government often fabricate statistics?

Like do federal agencies such as the CDC, NASA, NOAA, etc publish fake data/statistics?
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Old 01-26-2019, 11:05 PM
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Given the amount of data they process and the number of people they employ I suppose at some point in their history someone probably did publish some fake data, but not generally, no.
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Old 01-26-2019, 11:18 PM
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Why wouldn't they fabricate data?
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Old 01-26-2019, 11:20 PM
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Why wouldn't they fabricate data?
Why would they?
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Old 01-26-2019, 11:39 PM
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Er, ethics? Decency? Morality?
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:05 AM
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What is "the government", anyway? If an agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government is fabricating data, and they're doing so because they've been directed to do so from the very top--that is, by the President of the United States--well, we have a whole other branch of the federal government called Congress, which has oversight power over such matters. For much of President Obama's administration, the Republicans controlled at least one house of the Congress, and they would have loved nothing more than to catch the Obama Administration doing such a thing. Now, we have the Democratic Party in control of the House of Representatives, and you can be sure they will be thoroughly investigating any possible shenanigans by the Trump Administration. Even in times when one party controls the White House and both houses of Congress, we're still dealing with a bunch of ambitious politicians, who can't necessarily be counted on to carry water for a President of their own party, since a good many of them may deep down be thinking "I should be in the Oval Office, not that guy", would probably love the publicity of taking down a big scandalous executive branch conspiracy, and might even be genuinely interested in serving the public good and upholding the principles of representative democracy. (Granted, "divided government" does make it more likely Congress will zealously pursue its job of overseeing the executive branch.)

If an agency of the executive branch is fabricating data and it's not being directed from the top, then in addition to Congress, they're also lying to their boss (the President of the United States) who presumably will not be happy about that, and who ultimately commands all sorts of law enforcement and investigative agencies to ensure no such funny business is going on. In addition to the FBI and the Justice Department, all major divisions of the U.S. government (cabinet departments and major independent agencies) has an inspector general whose job it is to make sure everything is on the up and up. Even if the President is in on the fake-data conspiracy, that's another set of eyes which must be closed and mouths which must be shut.

Also, the "executive branch of the United States federal government" is an enormous collection of people, many of whom are career civil servants who very likely are more loyal to the United States and its Constitution (or even just to their specific agency as a permanent institution) than they are to any given politician or set of politicians; all it would take would be one whistle-blower and everyone concerned would be looking at an FBI or I.G. investigation, along with hearings before Congress (conducted by the aforementioned ambitious and/or principled politicians).

And if for some reason the President, the inspectors general and other internal watchdogs within the executive branch, and both houses of Congress all fail to act, we still have a free press. One whistle-blower talking to the Washington Post and the New York Times could blow the lid off the whole thing (which in turn could essentially force such institutions as Congress and the Justice Department to do their jobs).
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:24 AM
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Fabricating statistics would be risky, and why would a civil servant do such a thing? In general, people who go into government service are honest and idealistic (at least initially). The ethically challenged and money- or power-hungry go into politics, which is where the money and power are.
But I have seen government reports that put a spin on the interpretation of statistics--shame on them.
Also, some government statistics are just plain wrong because of problems with the underlying data and human error. For example, for various good reasons there is gross under reporting of many diseases. Worse, the extent of under reporting can vary over time and from place to place. As for human error, I remember once when someone switched the headings on two columns of disease statistics and no one caught the error for a month or two.
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:48 AM
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One of the key reasons data is published so it can be used by others, often much later and for purposes that the original compilers may never have considered. That is, in itself a robust and very difficult to circumvent form of data verification, as its may be looking at long-term trends, pulling in multiple data series and using computer number-crunching.

If President Nixon ordered the Widget Measurement Authority to fake its counts of left handed widgets to stymie the commies, then any long-term graph would immediately highlight an anomalous period of widget production requiring explanation. A curious investigator would then go to other independent sources of government data to see what was going on, such as trade export figures for widgets, in case there was a big demand emerging there, and employment stats for widget factories, and perhaps even filed annual reports of the widget companies.

A conspiracist could then conclude that they are all in it together, but there is a point where that interwoven universe of facts and sources requires that Everyone is in on the conspiracy, except them. And there are other terms to describe that sort of perspective.
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Old 01-27-2019, 01:19 AM
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Originally Posted by scarface54345 View Post
Like do federal agencies such as the CDC, NASA, NOAA, etc publish fake data/statistics?
Those are scientific agencies, and what they publish is true to the best of their knowledge. Like all science, future research is likely to show that current models are incomplete, or in other language, "wrong." But that's how science works. If NOAA publishes a weather forecast and it doesn't come true, that isn't fake data, just data with limited accuracy. "Fake" to me suggests an intent for deception, and sure, there might be some instances of scientific misconduct, but the nature of science is that those types of things are often found out, because the experiment can't be reproduced, or the analysis doesn't stand up under review.

Intelligence agencies like the NSA and CIA are a completely different story, though. They have published reports saying, "we can't do that" or "we didn't do that," only for later leaks or evidence to show that those were lies. I'm not talking about deception to cover up clandestine operations, but deliberately lying to those who are supposed to be overseeing their operations. They have been caught lying to Congress in reports and testimony many times.
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Old 01-27-2019, 01:36 AM
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Why would they?
Others have already explained fairly well, but I would say they would because, well, they're the government...It's not like they would get in trouble for doing such a thing.
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Old 01-27-2019, 02:07 AM
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Not American, but the Greeks famously did so with respect to their public finances,
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Old 01-27-2019, 05:09 AM
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Why wouldn't they fabricate data?
How do you suspect publishing fabricated data would benefit the government?
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:21 AM
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Originally Posted by scarface54345 View Post
Others have already explained fairly well
No one here actually explained anything well for the fabrication of statistics.

The cited lying about the spying programs is something fundamentally different - these are of course clandestine programs
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I would say they would because, well, they're the government...It's not like they would get in trouble for doing such a thing.
The various individuals and the component agencies can indeed get in the legal trouble in any democratic country and even those that are not democratic, when caught in violating an actual law by the enforcement authorities. And go to jail.

so the idea they would not get in trouble is a false one.

I am familiar with instances where the Cour de Comptes (the Audit Court in the Francophone, French law systems) has caught state enterprises and agencies in trying to fake numbers and the responsable officers - functionnaires have gone to jail and others at lower levels have lost their jobs and been permanently banned from the civil service.

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Not American, but the Greeks famously did so with respect to their public finances,
This is indeed a good example of the difficulty of such.

The Greek finance ministyr and the statistical office worked together to fake certain kinds of statistics on the financial ratios for the Greek State. Not merely getting wrong, but actual active development of the fraud to allow first the ascension to the Euro and then later to fake the respect to certain funding ratios to keep the access to European funding and avoid EU commission penalties. This involved however not merely fabricating some numbers, but actually executing off-the-books swaps with some American bank: Goldman Sachs, with the clear intent of fraud.

Even with a high-level and major effort at faking these statistics, other analyses raised questions and finally the EU auditors uncovered it (or proved, it is perhaps a better word).

For the statistics that are heavily used by the parties other than those developing them, either other government agencies or the private parties, there is double checking, examination etc. As the most important of the government statistics are the time series statistics, and they are heavily examined by many parties, it is very difficult to consistently execute faked numbers. One maybe can get away with it once or twice - so a punctual study - but the time series data is heavily analyzed and the statistical tools and computer data processing power is directed to detect human manipulated numbers as there are many tell-tales that show up.

It is already the case for example for the PRC that it is well understood certain kinds of their statistics are fabricated - it is detectable and traceable. But of course it is the PRC - however in the investment banking there are the "shadow statistics" as even faked statistics in order to be coherent over time are usually in relationship in a structural way with real numbers.

It is in short virtually impossible to get away undetected with faking the time series statistics for any of the data sets that are published regulalarly and are used for their own interest by many other actors.

And of course the middle to higher level officers of the government bureaux that work on these numbers know very well that other agencies and the private sector - particulaly the big corporates and the big investment banks but also the specialized private data analytics companies are watching and have the mathematicians and the computer power to detect anamolies. So to fabricate is to run a huge risk in any of the bigger developed economies.

Even in the developing economies, there are a lot of actors watching and the oversight of the IMF detects "anamolies."

It is very naive to think statistics can be just fabricated.
(this is a different question from can the statistics be wrong or have lazy errors, as the random lazy errors are actually much harder to detect than the "motivated" errors.)

Last edited by Ramira; 01-27-2019 at 06:22 AM.
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:31 AM
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Others have already explained fairly well, but I would say they would because, well, they're the government...It's not like they would get in trouble for doing such a thing.
"The government" doesn't actually do... anything. It's made up of people. And the people working for the government in scientific fields are scientists. Scientists who typically care about their reputation. And of course there are punishments for fabricating data. Your reputation is destroyed. Scientists who fabricate data are never taken seriously again - at least, within scientific circles. So why would any given scientist fabricate data for the government's sake?
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:53 AM
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They certainly suppress and distort statistics they don't like.

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Originally Posted by Union of Concerned Scientists
Interviews with current and former EPA staff, as well as an internal EPA memo reviewed for this report, revealed that the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Management and Budget demanded major amendments including:

The deletion of a temperature record covering 1,000 years in order to, according to the EPA memo, emphasize “a recent, limited analysis [that] supports the administration’s favored message.”10
The removal of any reference to the NAS review—requested by the White House itself—that confirmed human activity is contributing to climate change.11
The insertion of a reference to a discredited study of temperature records funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute.12
The elimination of the summary statement—noncontroversial within the science community that studies climate change—that “climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment.”13

According to the internal EPA memo, White House officials demanded so many qualifying words such as “potentially” and “may” that the result would have been to insert “uncertainty...where there is essentially none.”14

In a political environment described by now-departed EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman as “brutal,”15 the entire section on climate change was ultimately deleted from the version released for public comment.16 According to internal EPA documents and interviews with EPA researchers, the agency staff chose this path rather than compromising their credibility by misrepresenting the scientific consensus.17 Doing otherwise, as one current, high-ranking EPA official puts it, would “poorly represent the science and ultimately undermine the credibility of the EPA and the White House.”18

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Old 01-27-2019, 07:58 AM
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It's unlikely in the vast majority of cases anybody straight up fabricating numbers, but there's likely a lot of things like p-hacking without the appropriate corrections going on. This isn't unique to the government though, and even takes place in respected institutions. Often due to the pressures regarding timetables for getting things out the door, or job security concerns for appearing to not be "doing" anything.

There's also dodgy data collection mechanism and other ways to silently exclude groups (or artificially inflate numbers you want to look big). The definition of rape, for instance, is notoriously known to be sticky and not actually measure what it's supposed to measure (the relevant federal definitions got better a few years ago but still doesn't account for a few acts most people would term "rape"). Some of these aren't intentional, of course, but I'd wager there are quite a few politically motivated definitions of various statistics you'd only notice if you looked at the fine print of some data and/or were an expert in some area.

But again, this isn't unique to the government. A lot of people want their data to "tell a story" and often this sort of definitional data hacking happens in an entirely accidental or even well intentioned way.

E: Hell, a lot of gender breakdowns are subtly wrong because of the federal non-recognition of non-binary people, or third gender people (as well as the forcible assignment of intersex ppl at birth) for instance.

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Old 01-27-2019, 08:31 AM
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Necessary addendum:

No, this does not mean insert your favorite conspiracy theory is true.
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Old 01-27-2019, 08:35 AM
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E: Hell, a lot of gender breakdowns are subtly wrong because of the federal non-recognition of non-binary people, or third gender people (as well as the forcible assignment of intersex ppl at birth) for instance.
This is not an example of 'wrong' in statistics but a policy level difference on the definitions where there may be a change of the consensus (or maybe not) on the definitions.

That is a different subject from the disortion or fabrication of numbers around the consensus (for the very subjective definitional) or the objective data.

Mixing the different subjects leads to confusion and unforutnately unfounded conspiracy thinking by mistaking differences of the interpretation or the definitional consensus for the fabrications.
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Old 01-27-2019, 09:12 AM
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Data may not be fabricated, but it is often worthless.
For example - the unemployment rate. It's very common to have the current unemployment rate reported as x.y%, and then, 6 months later have the same agency report that due to additional data, or inaccurate sources or some excuse, the actual rate was a.b%
This happens enough to make me think that the statistics (especially ones that are "seasonally adjusted", or otherwise massaged in some opaque fashion) are just pacifiers. The actual numbers are unreliable and unverifiable.

Last edited by beowulff; 01-27-2019 at 09:13 AM.
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Old 01-27-2019, 09:40 AM
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Data may not be fabricated, but it is often worthless.
For example - the unemployment rate. It's very common to have the current unemployment rate reported as x.y%, and then, 6 months later have the same agency report that due to additional data, or inaccurate sources or some excuse, the actual rate was a.b%
This happens enough to make me think that the statistics (especially ones that are "seasonally adjusted", or otherwise massaged in some opaque fashion) are just pacifiers. The actual numbers are unreliable and unverifiable.
I argue that such corrections imply another reason. Collecting good data takes a lot of time. Unemployment figures are an excellent example. The data come from a public survey-corrected and validated by subsequent employment and unemployment reports. When the survey data is released there simply isn't the data necessary to properly analyze the survey. They try, but as you point out they often get it wrong.

Such corrections are not necessarily a reflection of the failure of the method, but could be an indication that an unrealistic reporting schedule is imposed on a data collection effort. IOWs, the fault isn't in the data it is in the reporting requirement.
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Old 01-27-2019, 09:48 AM
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"The government" doesn't actually do... anything.
That's the beauty of it!
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:07 AM
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Data may not be fabricated, but it is often worthless.
For example - the unemployment rate. It's very common to have the current unemployment rate reported as x.y%, and then, 6 months later have the same agency report that due to additional data, or inaccurate sources or some excuse, the actual rate was a.b%
This only indicates that you do not understand statistical data collection, it does not mean that for the educated professionals the interim data is worthless or that the reporting is a problem.

Quote:
This happens enough to make me think that the statistics (especially ones that are "seasonally adjusted", or otherwise massaged in some opaque fashion) are just pacifiers. The actual numbers are unreliable and unverifiable.
It is the opinon of the persons unedcuated in the statistics, of the same nature as the doubters on flouridation or the climate change data.

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I argue that such corrections imply another reason. Collecting good data takes a lot of time.
Indeed yes.

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Unemployment figures are an excellent example. The data come from a public survey-corrected and validated by subsequent employment and unemployment reports. When the survey data is released there simply isn't the data necessary to properly analyze the survey. They try, but as you point out they often get it wrong.
or not wrong, but not right on the full information.

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Such corrections are not necessarily a reflection of the failure of the method, but could be an indication that an unrealistic reporting schedule is imposed on a data collection effort. IOWs, the fault isn't in the data it is in the reporting requirement.
Or neither, rather there is utility to the professionals to have the early data even though the final more solid data takes more time to publish.

Unfortunately like the reporting on the science research, journalists are often - usually not educated to report in a way that is understandable (or maybe it is not really possible) to the general public who do not have any education in the statistics or the particular science and so gross misinterpretations and frustrations arise from fundamental misunderstanding.
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:42 AM
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Why wouldn't they fabricate data?
Agencies such as the CDC, NASA, NOAA, and others are generally obligated to make raw data available (barring specific data involved in ongoing failure investigations and so forth), and nearly all data that is not of a classified national security nature can be obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Errors or manipulations in data interpretation have occurred, particularly by third party or academic researchers, government contractors, and political think-tanks but intentionally “faking” (e.g. fabricating) data on a systemic level would be nearly impossible due to the number of people involved and the amount of oversight non-classified projects receive. Even just concealing information is very difficult; witness the Pentagon Papers or the information relased by Daniel Snowden from NSA archives; it just takes one person to blow the lid off of a conspiracy to conceal or misdirect.

Stranger
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Old 01-27-2019, 11:03 AM
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Others have already explained fairly well,
Like who, for example?

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but I would say they would because, well, they're the government...It's not like they would get in trouble for doing such a thing.
Of course “they” could get in trouble. Who do you think “they” is? It’s just people in jobs. They can lose their jobs. Some government employees can face criminal punishments for committing fraud in their duties.
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:14 PM
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Why wouldn't they fabricate data?
If you ask someone to start generating data for you, it's because you need it. Between flying blind or practicing data-driven decision making, most people would rather not be blind.
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Old 01-27-2019, 03:55 PM
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It's unlikely in the vast majority of cases anybody straight up fabricating numbers, ...

E: Hell, a lot of gender breakdowns are subtly wrong because of the federal non-recognition of non-binary people, or third gender people (as well as the forcible assignment of intersex ppl at birth) for instance.
Which is really a different thing. The Census is the original 'statistic' the US govt was required to publish, and the methodology has been debated and modified for ages. That has nothing IMO to do with the question. IMO 'fabricating statistics' means you could publish what everyone would be reasonably sure are the right ones, but you consciously choose to substitute made up ones.

That has happened in other countries. Greece was mentioned, phony Argentine official inflation statistics under the Kirchners are another relatively recent example.

The reasons it generally doesn't happen in countries with a tradition of relatively strong rule and law and relatively low corruption have been mentioned, but to summarize
1) if it were commanded by political leaders, who indeed could have an interest in govt stats, particularly economic stats, saying what they want, the professional people compiling the stats generally have no interest in keeping that command a secret.
2) the professional people compiling the stats as a rule have no way to personally benefit otherwise from publishing phony stats.

The likely exception would seem to be stats related to emotional social issues. Climate stats might be an example. I'm not saying any have been fabricated, but it's an issue which for some people has gone beyond scientific to an emotional social kind of issue (as in 'we're going to die in 12 yrs' to quote a much quoted new face on one side of the US political spectrum). It's not inconceivable to me that some bureaucrats in relevant US govt agencies could come to feel it their 'duty' to falsify climate stats to make them look worse than they are and get the public to 'finally do something about it'. But still, it's probably more likely co-workers would see this as counter productive to warning the public about the real threat, and/or simply be too honest to go along with it. Again the current US political leadership might want to fake climate stats in the opposite direction, but there's essentially zero likelihood the people who compile them would go along or keep the request secret: they are overwhelmingly on the other side politically in their personal lives.

Last edited by Corry El; 01-27-2019 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 01-27-2019, 05:30 PM
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Errors or manipulations in data interpretation have occurred, particularly by third party or academic researchers, government contractors, and political think-tanks but intentionally “faking” (e.g. fabricating) data on a systemic level would be nearly impossible due to the number of people involved and the amount of oversight non-classified projects receive. Even just concealing information is very difficult; witness the Pentagon Papers or the information relased by Daniel Snowden from NSA archives; it just takes one person to blow the lid off of a conspiracy to conceal or misdirect.
Sorry, but this means you aren't very good at Conspiracy Bingo.

It is fervently believed by those suffering from varying degrees of paranoia that mass manipulation/suppressing/altering of data goes on commonly in government, no matter how wildly improbable such plots are.

As for the CDC, antivaxers have been struggling to get as much mileage as possible over the publication of a CDC-sponsored research paper that found no link between MMR vaccination and autism. The paper omitted one finding that all the authors (except one) felt was a statistical outlier that didn't make sense, and indeed subsequent analysis has borne that out. The scientist who disagreed decided to contact an influential antivaxer to share his concerns and the matter got blown up into the "CDC Whistleblower Conspiracy".

You would have to believe that substantial numbers of reputable scientists not only would conceal vital facts to protect their reputations/agenda, but that they're downright Evil to boot.* More than a few people think this way.

*note that all of the data that went into the paper was preserved for interested parties to analyze and interpret/misinterpret.

Last edited by Jackmannii; 01-27-2019 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:40 PM
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BTW, here is a great site that pretty much aggregates all US government statistics. www.usafacts.org
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Old 01-28-2019, 12:45 AM
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Again the current US political leadership might want to fake climate stats in the opposite direction, but there's essentially zero likelihood the people who compile them would go along or keep the request secret: they are overwhelmingly on the other side politically in their personal lives.
It seems like in these cases where the political leadership does not like research, they ban it or refuse to fund it. For example, banning the CDC from studying gun violence, or forbidding agencies from talking to the press. You can debate the merits of these examples, but that is beside the point. The idea is that the Whitehouse doesn't call up NOAA and say, "hey, you need to knock 2 degrees off those ocean temperature measurements," instead they defund the research.
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Old 01-28-2019, 03:37 AM
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Which is really a different thing. The Census is the original 'statistic' the US govt was required to publish, and the methodology has been debated and modified for ages. That has nothing IMO to do with the question. IMO 'fabricating statistics' means you could publish what everyone would be reasonably sure are the right ones, but you consciously choose to substitute made up ones.

That has happened in other countries. Greece was mentioned, phony Argentine official inflation statistics under the Kirchners are another relatively recent example.

The reasons it generally doesn't happen in countries with a tradition of relatively strong rule and law and relatively low corruption have been mentioned, but to summarize
1) if it were commanded by political leaders, who indeed could have an interest in govt stats, particularly economic stats, saying what they want, the professional people compiling the stats generally have no interest in keeping that command a secret.
2) the professional people compiling the stats as a rule have no way to personally benefit otherwise from publishing phony stats.

The likely exception would seem to be stats related to emotional social issues. Climate stats might be an example. I'm not saying any have been fabricated, but it's an issue which for some people has gone beyond scientific to an emotional social kind of issue (as in 'we're going to die in 12 yrs' to quote a much quoted new face on one side of the US political spectrum). It's not inconceivable to me that some bureaucrats in relevant US govt agencies could come to feel it their 'duty' to falsify climate stats to make them look worse than they are and get the public to 'finally do something about it'. But still, it's probably more likely co-workers would see this as counter productive to warning the public about the real threat, and/or simply be too honest to go along with it. Again the current US political leadership might want to fake climate stats in the opposite direction, but there's essentially zero likelihood the people who compile them would go along or keep the request secret: they are overwhelmingly on the other side politically in their personal lives.
Agreed. Flat out lying like the Greeks and Argies did is rare, and in those two cases it can be said those who were being lied to, wanted to believe what they were being told.

Far more common is misrepresentation of facially true statistics. You see this in climate change claims by supporters. Sex crimes cases have been mentioned, there the amount of misrepresentation is mind boggling.
(This does not mean that the causes are false, they deserve support, but for some reason supporters feel the need to do this).
  #31  
Old 01-28-2019, 10:53 AM
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Agreed. Flat out lying like the Greeks and Argies did is rare, and in those two cases it can be said those who were being lied to, wanted to believe what they were being told.

Far more common is misrepresentation of facially true statistics. You see this in climate change claims by supporters. Sex crimes cases have been mentioned, there the amount of misrepresentation is mind boggling.
(This does not mean that the causes are false, they deserve support, but for some reason supporters feel the need to do this).
Yes, it is very important to draw a distinction between scientific publications from research agencies, and policy statements published to achieve a political end. As an example, many of the statistics about human trafficking thrown around are completely made up. That is where it is important for the reader to use some judgement. Which is more believable, a 200 page report on the findings of a multi-year study on cancer treatment from the NCI, or a tweet from a Congressional Representative?

That can be very difficult, as it is easy for ones own biases to get in the way of believing stuff. I'm strongly in favor of cat ownership. But then the National Institute on Pets comes out and says that recently convicted felons were 15 times more likely to be cat owners than the general population. It's much easier for me to claim the NIP is lying, just hates cats, and as always been a dog biased agency, than to accept that this is a striking finding and may point to major problems in the cat owning community. Just because you don't like some numbers, doesn't mean they are wrong.
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Old 01-28-2019, 03:45 PM
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Fabricating data and cherry picking data are two very different things. Fabricating scientific data is hard to get away with and something almost all scientists would naturally avoid.

Cherry picking subsets of data and presenting only those that appear to support your cause, on the other hand, is a universally great temptation that even otherwise good scientists too often give in to.

The answers to scientific questions are not reliably found simply by searching for what pops out of data sets as they become available. To get a reliable answers, one must frame a question, define terms, agree on which data are relevant and valid, choose a method of analysis, and decide what conclusions follow from each of the possible outcomes of the analysis. In the cat example, you would define "cat owner" and "recently convicted felon." You would decide what population you are interested in defined by time (2019, 2018, an earlier year or a span of years) and space (US, North America, the world). You would have to do a comprehensive and systematic search for all relevant data and have a transparent and unbiased procedure for validating the data. You would need to decide what measure of association between cat ownership and conviction for felony you were going to calculate and then what your conclusion would be after each of the possible outcomes. If you don't go through all these steps before looking at your data, all you will have is an interesting hypothesis---you will have proved nothing.
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Old 01-28-2019, 03:52 PM
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What "conspiracy" does the OP want us to help prove? That would narrow things down a lot.
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Old 01-28-2019, 04:32 PM
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What "conspiracy" does the OP want us to help prove? That would narrow things down a lot.
Given the broad range of CTs associated with the CDC (vaccination and gunshot deaths), NASA (global warming, lunar landings, UFOs), and the NOAA (just global warming?) I suspect some friend of the OP is assembling a Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory. I got pretty far along with my own, ten or fifteen years back, but I got distra--Ooh! Shiny!
  #35  
Old 01-28-2019, 05:21 PM
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.It's not like they would get in trouble for doing such a thing.
Well, nothing other than being the center of a giant scandal, losing their job and their professional reputation when their fabrication is discovered.
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Old 01-28-2019, 07:57 PM
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Besides which, for most of these people, the knowledge is itself the goal, and the government position just a means to that end. It's like asking why rich people don't burn money in their fireplace: Sure, they could, but why would they want to?
  #37  
Old 01-28-2019, 08:13 PM
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The problem with the unemployment rate isn't the number. No doubt, out of the "actively looking" job seekers, only <some number under 5%> haven't found a job. The problem is that it doesn't factor in:

underemployed. People who need the income of a full time position (or, since minimum wage pays so little, they really need to have 2 jobs) but only have an intermittent contract job or a part time low paying job.

People who have given up. Now, some of these people are collecting money from various forms of pension and social security, and don't need a job.

But, uh, what do homeless people who desperately would take a job but won't get one because they can't get a haircut and a shower count as? Or paroled prisoners getting by on food stamps and petty crime and who no one will hire? What bucket do they fall in?

This is why "workforce participation" is a far more honest metric. If we simply tracked this, or took everyone who is not collecting social security, over the age of 18, and not in full time college or prison, this would be a far more accurate metric.
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Old 01-28-2019, 08:31 PM
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I thought everyone knew that 86.894% of all statistics were just fabricated.
  #39  
Old 01-29-2019, 08:52 AM
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Fabricating data and cherry picking data are two very different things. ...
To the extent gov't entities decide what types of data they seek from what sources, they could reach results skewed towards specific political agendas. They could choose to rely on a superficial survey, or drill down deeply in order to identify seeming exceptions.

Then, the gov't bodies are able to decide what data they rely on in enacting various laws/policies.

I'm reminded of a recent conversation I had re: lying to Congress/investigators. There can be a mighty fine line between knowingly expressing a factual falsehood and expressing an opinion.
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Old 01-29-2019, 09:48 AM
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FYI, here's an example of fabricated statistics from a government official.
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‏We are not even into February and the cost of illegal immigration so far this year is $18,959,495,168. Cost Friday was $603,331,392. There are at least 25,772,342 illegal aliens, not the 11,000,000 that have been reported for years, in our Country. So ridiculous!
  #41  
Old 01-29-2019, 10:35 AM
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It seems unnecessary, given that even when it spends money to research an issue, and doesn't bother to hide the results, it will still blatantly ignore the recommendations in favor of whatever it wanted to do in the first place.
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Old 01-29-2019, 10:59 AM
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Fabricating data and cherry picking data are two very different things. Fabricating scientific data is hard to get away with and something almost all scientists would naturally avoid.
How to calculate or measure different types of data is an ongoing discussion on any fields which obtain and employ such data; how to compare data obtained with different methodologies (and in fact, how to prove whether two methodologies are equivalent) is a branch in any such field. Often, cherry picking begins by picking one methodology over another, since the biases of different methods are known (all measurement methods introduce some deviation from reality, but some more than others and in different directions). Waiting times for medical systems; unemployment percentiles; program viewership; the color of samples. When governments are involved, those discussions tend to be pretty public; whether the public and the politicians involved can understand the discussion or not is a different matter, but the information is available. Getting the decision-makers to understand what they're looking at is as much of a problem in private enterprises as in governments: as big and as small.
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Last edited by Nava; 01-29-2019 at 11:01 AM.
  #43  
Old 01-29-2019, 01:47 PM
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The problem with the unemployment rate isn't the number. No doubt, out of the "actively looking" job seekers, only <some number under 5%> haven't found a job. The problem is that it doesn't factor in:
[...]
This is why "workforce participation" is a far more honest metric. If we simply tracked this, or took everyone who is not collecting social security, over the age of 18, and not in full time college or prison, this would be a far more accurate metric.
This is why scientists start with a question instead of a statistic. These are two different questions with two different answers:
  • How many people that are trying to find a job are not working?
  • How many people that could be working are not working?
There are also lots of followup questions on the differences between those answers. So then the headline is "Unemployment at 4.9%" and people start saying, "but, but, but..." because they're starting with a number, not a question.

Even among experts in a field, one person's cherry picking is another's quality control. If they're both honestly trying to find the best answer, then there's a good chance both arguments have merits. If one or both of them is trying find a particular answer, then we're possibly into fraud.
  #44  
Old 01-29-2019, 02:03 PM
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FYI, here's an example of fabricated statistics from a government official.
That of course is not fabricated statistics, it is simply PR declarations with made up numbers by your President.
  #45  
Old 01-29-2019, 02:07 PM
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This is why "workforce participation" is a far more honest metric.
It is not a more honest statistic, it is a different statistic

Quote:
If we simply tracked this, or took everyone who is not collecting social security, over the age of 18, and not in full time college or prison, this would be a far more accurate metric.
No, not in any way.

It is making the mistaken assumptoin that all who are not in the workforce are interested in a paid position - which is far from the truth for many reasons - such as women who do not desire to be in the labor force, and confuses other categories of non work for the demand for work.

The seeking employment statistic is a key statistic for having an estimation of the pressure in the labor market, the active supply versus the active demand.

That is the economics.

Other issues are part of certain left political disputes relative to policy, which may be correctly based or not, but are a different question from the economic demande question.
  #46  
Old 01-29-2019, 02:11 PM
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Everyone knows 43.27% of statistics are just made up.
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  #47  
Old 01-29-2019, 02:23 PM
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Others have already explained fairly well, but I would say they would because, well, they're the government...It's not like they would get in trouble for doing such a thing.
You speak as if The Government was some evil monolith. It isn't either one. But if you are a foxnews junkie or something, you might believe a stupid lie like that.
  #48  
Old 01-29-2019, 09:01 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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dasmoocher writes:

> I thought everyone knew that 86.894% of all statistics were just fabricated.

Bryan Ekers writes:

> Everyone knows 43.27% of statistics are just made up.

O.K., this is not acceptable. We're going to have to determine which is the correct number. Luckily I am about to start a foundation to work out the true percentage. It's going to take years to work out and will employ a lot of scientists to do research. I will be the head of the foundation, of course. I expect everyone contributing to this thread (or, indeed, everyone who's ever posted to the SDMB) to make a large charitable contribution to the foundation. I will only ask for a mere $500,000 per year to run the foundation.
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Old 01-30-2019, 03:26 PM
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dasmoocher writes:

> I thought everyone knew that 86.894% of all statistics were just fabricated.

Bryan Ekers writes:

> Everyone knows 43.27% of statistics are just made up.

O.K., this is not acceptable. We're going to have to determine which is the correct number. Luckily I am about to start a foundation to work out the true percentage. It's going to take years to work out and will employ a lot of scientists to do research. I will be the head of the foundation, of course. I expect everyone contributing to this thread (or, indeed, everyone who's ever posted to the SDMB) to make a large charitable contribution to the foundation. I will only ask for a mere $500,000 per year to run the foundation.
Well, when seasonally adjusted, they both give you 110% which coincidentally, as you would be aware, is the standard metric of measurement for sportsperson effort per event, divided by the number you first though of.

Last edited by Banksiaman; 01-30-2019 at 03:27 PM. Reason: thaipoe
  #50  
Old 01-30-2019, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner View Post
dasmoocher writes:

> I thought everyone knew that 86.894% of all statistics were just fabricated.

Bryan Ekers writes:

> Everyone knows 43.27% of statistics are just made up.

O.K., this is not acceptable. We're going to have to determine which is the correct number. Luckily I am about to start a foundation to work out the true percentage. It's going to take years to work out and will employ a lot of scientists to do research. I will be the head of the foundation, of course. I expect everyone contributing to this thread (or, indeed, everyone who's ever posted to the SDMB) to make a large charitable contribution to the foundation. I will only ask for a mere $500,000 per year to run the foundation.
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