We have collectively been showered by yet another of Andrew Laming’s expensive and self-serving ‘surveys’, which he touts as “Redland’s Biggest”.
As if size trumps value/integrity! (“Never mind the quality, feel the width…,” as the old vaudeville line goes.)
This latest in an unfortunate series of Laming’s amateurish and dubious data-gathering exercises is foisted on us all, under the guise of being a genuine, independent and professional mechanism to gather information which can be used for our good — the good of the community. Hah!
But this is little more than a ‘phishing’ expedition, used to gain politically useful data about us for our federal member.
(Note: ‘Phishing’ is a scamming mechanism often used on computers to obtain sensitive, personal information, usually for covert reasons, by disguising the communication as if it were trustworthy.)
Survey design is a science — if you want valid data
Mr. Laming claims to know something about the science of survey design, but if he does, it’s certainly not evident in this or any of his other cynical, invalid questionnaires.
When challenged previously on these sham ’surveys’, his self-justifying retort implied that he had such a limited budget that he couldn’t afford to have them done professionally, relying on non-professionals to supply the questions and, effectively, design the thing.
Is that any excuse for this money-wasting travesty that primarily serves his own political agendas?
No doubt he hopes to appear to be ‘consulting’ with his electorate, and to appear as though he’s actually listening and open to feedback. But this is certainly the cheap, quick and dirty way to do it and to avoid face-to-face ’town hall’ type meetings with us in the flesh.
Garbage In-Garbage Out
The present survey is not a tool of sound, meaningful research at all. For a questionnaire to produce unbiassed, reliable, valid data, there are many rules for its design and analysis. For example:
|Fundamentals of Sound Research||Comments on the Laming survey methods|
|1||Respondents should be permitted to complete the surveys anonymously, to ensure maximum likelihood of honest answers and to prevent potential exploitation of the information provided for illicit purposes.||Not the case here. We are asked our personal contact details and also our political affiliation. If a citizen is reluctant to divulge this information — for which there is no guarantee whatsoever of its subsequent security — s/he is left with the option of declining to reply at all, hence skewing the data, OR of replying and risking having the data and personal details used in unknown and unwanted ways. Hobson’s choice = a potential Lose-Lose either way! If the aim is to prevent the survey being reproduced to enable multiples to be completed by a single person or by nonresidents, then there’s a simple method that still preserves anonymity. It’s the application of a unique number (in a defined series) to each questionnaire distributed. Easy.|
|2||Questions should be framed in a neutral way, avoiding inflammatory wording and not indicating favour for any particular answer.||Not here. e.g. “The US is our best mate.”|
|3||Questions should be composed using proper, unarguable language.||Not here again. e.g. in the item “Unemployed who refuse jobs or work to face random illicit drug tests” could mean that those unemployed should have to undertake illegal [“illicit”] tests for drugs, or it could mean they should be subjected to tests for illegal drugs — not the same thing at all. A person might have their interpretation misapplied altogether!|
|4||Questions should permit more than only ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ reply options — preferably revealing strength of agreement/disagreement, by using graded scale of 1 to 5, for example. Good questionnaires allow for respondents to indicate if the issue is ’not applicable’, or they are ‘unsure’ or ’neutral’.||Again, not here. Many issues are complex, many people do not have clear understanding, knowledge or opinions on them, and are here faced with choosing an option they don’t fully agree with, resulting in misleading inferences being drawn. This overly simplistic Yes/No method invariably leads to responses that are unable to be accurately interpreted. In other words, it leads to invalid data, which are not meaningful as a basis for knowing what constituents think and want.|
|5||Questions should be clear about what is being asked.||Again, not here. e.g. “Are you happy with no boat arrivals for 900 days?” is a very loaded and ambiguous item. Does the reply indicate the respondent concurs with the “stop the boats” policy, or does it indicate the respondent is relieved that no asylum seekers’ lives have been lost in the process….or something else completely?|
|6||If the survey process and its results are to be regarded as transparent and ethical, there should be a publicly accessible mechanism to inspect all survey results. Instead no such portal is available — presumably you’ll only find out if you divulge your email address. Too bad if you don’t trust the process or have an email account!||So much for political openness and transparency.|
|7||Survey design, as well as collation and reporting of the returned surveys should be done by an independent and professional organisation, otherwise there’s absolutely no guarantee that the responses not tallying with the survey’s proponent won’t end up trashed.||Without evidence to the contrary we can only presume it’s all done in-house by his office staff, who are unlikely to be experts in this field.|
|8||Survey results produced professionally and independently will state the number of surveys distributed, as well as the number completed and returned, thus indicating sample size and response rate. These are essential to knowing what proportion of the community is represented (or not) by the results.||So far, to my knowledge, Laming has never published this important information, and I suspect he doesn’t plan to this time either.|
The Andrew Laming survey
Andrew Laming’s survey does not follow standard practice for ethical, valid community-based market research.
He doesn’t explicitly claim that his survey is independent and professionally designed and administered but I’m certain he hopes we’d believe that.
It is a terrible thing that we citizens of Redlands are being so cynically exploited in this way and, as taxpayers, paying for the collection of material that may or may not be used with our consent or in our best interest.
My belief is the only reason Laming gets away with this is that most folk are trusting and lack in the expertise to understand surveys and the potential for them to be misused.