How Sample Surveys Go Wrong Essay


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Random sampling eliminates bias in choosing a sample and allows control of variability. So once we see the magic words “randomly selected” and “margin of error,” do we know we have trustworthy information before us? It certainly beats voluntary response, but not always by as much as we might hope.


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Other sampling errors are not so easy to handle. Sampling begins with a list of individuals from which we will draw our sample. This list is called the sampling frame.


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She may remember incorrectly when asked how many packs of cigarettes she smoked last week. A subject who does not understand a question may guess at an answer rather than appear ignorant. Questions that ask subjects about their behavior during a fixed time period are notoriously prone to response errors due to faulty memory.


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