************************* Below are some replies I received from recipients of my last posting about the website http://madison.hss.cmu.edu . Just for your information ... *************************
(1) Jerry, I've always known that there are lies, damn lies and then statistics. There is no way to know who specifically double punched these ballots, nor anyway to re-vote this election. If the voters who cast these ballots were confused, they should have sought assistance. It takes resposible people to cast sincere votes, not a herd of cows told to vote #5 on the ballot. The country should abide by what the re-counts bear out. I'll abide by it, how about you?
(2) From Japan: One more interesting thing! I heard Bush won yesterday's afternoon. But the news was wrong. Problem is the 0.5%. This is an excellent "alive" teaching material, because I think this is related to significant figure, absolute error and relative error.
(3) Verrrrrrrrry interesting!! Unfortunately 99.999999% of the country wouldn't understand this. I do tho. It's outrageous isn't it? (My degree's in Ed. Psych., Statistics, & Measurement.) In my distant, cloudy past, I have several years experience creating machine-scored test booklets. The Palm Coast ballot would never even be considered, much less put out to the general public without a pilot test.
(4) Actually, this is one of the most positive things about this whole election. There is plenty of interesting mathematics floating around. The site below is particularly interesting as it is an beautiful example of how statistics can be misleading, and I don't mean this in a pejorative sense as the significant flaw is clearly stated.
(5) I suspect this will be a "textbook example" in years to come.
(6) A thought you may feel free to pass on:
The written Chinese word for the concept "crisis" combines the characters for "danger" and "opportunity." This election presents America with a dangerous opportunity. The danger is obvious; we've seen it all too often in disputed elections overseas. A nation paralyzed, with no influence in international affairs, at worst, bloodshed in the streets.
But what of the opportunity? Statistically, the popular vote was as close to a tie as you'd be likely to see - 200,000 votes out of ten million - a two percent margin, with only 50% voter turnout. Neither Gore nore Bush has a clear national mandate. So we as a nation have an opportunity to demonstrate that we can work around our differences, agree to disagree, yet work together for the good of the people. The opportunity is fraught with danger, to be sure - demagogues and rabble-rousers abound who seek only to provoke a fight or prove a point - but the America I grew up believing in was capable of rising to the challenge. Capable of setting aside even serious differences in political viewpoint for the common good.
Are we still that noble nation? I pray that we are - no matter who takes the oath of office in January.
(7) Jerry, Thanks for your lovely data!,
Here's something I wrote yesterday and posted on our internal message board at ____. It goes into a different statistical issue; namely, the question of whether the errors in the first count could have fallen so heavily against one candidate (Gore) if errors were actually distributed randomly. I didn't have precise data on the size and distribution of "error packets" across Florida. So I simply assumed that each error was an independent event. Although this premise needs to be examined when looking at the distribution of errors, it nonetheless provides a fascinating suggestion that something fishy (read "non-random") took place in the Florida elections.
(8) There you go again! It is not hard to know how you voted. Why do you use a Math-List to promote your political views?
(9) The data and Adams' analysis are indeed revealing. Even though, I would rather academic people stay away from the fray lest some politicians make an unfair use of academic brooding - exploit it, in short.
I've just finished watching nightly news. It appears that in Illinois some 120,000 votes have been disqualified for about the same reasons as in the Palm Beach county. In Iowa (I may be wrong. Then it's another state), Gore leads Bush by just 200 votes. It is said that the beauty of the current system is that irregularities, if present, tend to cancel out across the nation.
Picking up on a single county may create a wrong impression in a significant part of the population that big brains in academe somehow endorse this or that attitude towards the voting results. I think this would be wrong, because, for one, it's impossible to arrive at a fair conclusion without getting a more comprehensive study. Other states and other counties where the race was close must be looked into.
The fact is that the current situation is not academic in its nature. The ballot was available and was not contested before the vote started. Adams' research may suggest that the law must be changed. But this may only happen and the notion must only be promoted after the current election is over, not while it is on.
I think the academe may want to closely ponder another question critically related to what's happening in Florida, the law, and applicability of technology in education. It's my understanding that somehow counting by hand is judged by the Gore campaign (and by the law) as more reliable than counting with the help of computer. May it happen that the law will eventually have to be adjusted for the lack of sufficient expertise in counting by hand?
(10) THANKS for the statistical views of the election! Wonder if it will matter? ******************************************* -- Jerry P. Becker Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction Southern Illinois University Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O] (618) 457-8903 [H] Fax: (618) 453-4244 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org