Facepalm-worthy Quote (Don’t Know Much about Samples and Probability Edition)

“We’re spending $70 per person to fill this out. That’s just not cost effective,” he continued, “especially since in the end this is not a scientific survey. It’s a random survey“—Representative Daniel Webster (R-FL), during his speech against the American Community Survey (which I discussed previously here).

If one knows anything about scientific surveys, it is the randomness of the sample that makes them scientific.

To quote Mr. Gumby:  my brain hurts.

(h/t:  LGM)

FILED UNDER: Politics 101, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. mantis says:

    See, in a scientific survey, you pick the people who respond, so you can get the outcome you want. Science!

    With a random survey, who knows what you’ll get? Very unscientific.

  2. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I really hope he’s not on any committees dedicated to education. Or science. Or the funding thereof.

  3. JKB says:

    Hey, he’s been reading about those climate “scientists” and that is how they do it. They work to take the random out of their data.

    Also, randomness does not make surveys scientific. It removes bias and provides some empiricism but it is not science as it is practiced by the exact sciences.

  4. G.A. says:

    If one knows anything about scientific surveys, it is the randomness of the sample that makes them scientific.

    ladies and germs, I give you the theory of evolution in a tie dyed eggshell…

  5. grumpy realist says:


    So which of the two steps involved in evolution do you disagree on? Mutations or natural selection? That’s what the theory of evolution is, just those two steps repeated over and over and over.

    I guess you don’t believe in the existence of antibiotics-resistant bacteria?

    According to you, they shouldn’t exist.