[hackerspaces] Master's thesis

Andrew Schrock aschrock at usc.edu
Thu Jan 16 07:40:56 CET 2014

On Jan 15, 2014, at 9:45 PM, discuss-request at lists.hackerspaces.org wrote:
> On Jan 15, 2014, at 2:31 PM, matt <matt at nycresistor.com> wrote:
>>> It is not that the authors of such studies are of malicious intent,
>>> but rather that the studies can be used as a means of developing
>>> policies, counter tactics and infiltration programs. 
>> Just because someone might use statistics to further an agenda doesn't mean all research into a subject should be curtailed. 
> I work for a massive corporation and had the pleasure to get to know one of the guys in the marketing department. His job was doing voice of the customer surveys. 
> I mentioned interest in what we can learn from his surveys and this is what he said. Never trust the results of a survey. The person righting them always has an agenda and will word the questions to get the results they need. 
> Should we trust the results or be worried our hackerspace will be infiltrated? No. You should be aware that surveys and studies are done to prove something and the participants rarely know what it really is.  

There are many different types of surveys. Consumer opinion surveys are very different from say the type of surveys that the pew center for internet and american life conducts. 

Sure, surveys can be used to push an agenda. Around election time you might get calls that go something like this: "how angry does it make you that Obama is trying to force healthcare reform?" If you are an Obama supporter, you hang up. If you are anti-Obama, you get all riled up and are paying attention. The next question is probably if you'd like to donate to a super pac. 

The bigger question is who you are and what you do with it a methodology. Any methodology can be crap or harmful if you use it incorrectly. Think about experiments. They can be used in ways that help a scientific community better understand how HIV works - a great thing. Or they can be the tuskeegee experiment - you know, a not so great thing. 

Surveys are no different. Except they usually don't kill people. 


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