Monday, November 23, 2009

Lying with the GSS, easy, but not necessary   posted by Razib @ 11/23/2009 12:37:00 AM

About year ago I thought perhaps more bloggers would start taking up the GSS. That really hasn't happened. Sometimes I wonder why, and the other day I had one idea: it isn't necessary for what most bloggers want to do, confirm what they already believe. Google is sufficient. The GSS can be massaged pretty easily. I try and be careful about how I limit the variables so that I don't get the results I "want," bad sign if you keep fiddling & fiddling. That sort of thing made me realize it wouldn't be that hard to squeeze some results you wanted out of the data (though there's no way you're going to get some correlations and trends of course). But why bother? With a sufficiently precise Google query you can get all the data & results you want from the top of the stack which supports your own thesis (it is often not too difficult to reproduce the queries of commenters who engage in this sort of thing to prove their point, just put in a few variants of queries and the link that they provided shows up on the first page of results).