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Physics Colloquium: "From Fourier to Forensics"

SpeakerDr. Michael Weissman, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Date Sep 10, 2014
Time 4:00 pm  
Location 141 Loomis
Cost None
Sponsor Physics Department
Contact Stephanie Johansson
Phone 217-300-4241
Event type Seminar/Symposium
Views 32
Originating Calendar Physics - Colloquium

Although the statistical and systematic problems of public opinion polls are fairly widely recognized, we tend to assume that published polling results reflect some sort of actual poll. In 2009 a prominent blog suggested that the pollster Strategic Vision might be fabricating data, based in part on surprising deviations from uniformity of the distribution of trailing digits of the results. Objections were raised to the assumed uniform distribution, but we were able to use Fourier analysis together with known polling statistics to show that the results were weird even if that assumption were dropped. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C03E1DA123AF930A25751C1A96F9C8B63

In 2010 we were contacted by a political consultant who had noticed anomalies in Research2000 poll reports. Using a variety of elementary statistical techniques, we showed that those results could not have accurately represented real polls. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Research_2000 Unfortunately, we do not know if there are other bogus pollsters, disguising results via a random binary generator (cost $0.01).

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