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Reliability of Surveys

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Reliability of Surveys

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  • March 2010
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Reliability of Surveys: Should We Trust In Them?

Almost every week, there are news reports about the latest surveys, whether they are about the president’s approval and satisfaction rating, or who’s leading in the next elections. However, some people who get low ratings claim that these surveys are not really representative of the people, and can be fixed and cheated. One of them even asserted that surveys can be bought in Quiapo, an area known for producing forged documents, and can easily be manipulated. Another politician says that people give too much stock in surveys that elections are now heavily based on them. (Ubac and Salaverria, “Noynoy”) But what is the real purpose of these surveys? Are they to inform or to mislead? Do they give us a summary of the whole population or just a select few? How can we rely on them if they can be falsified, as others claim? Before I discuss surveys, first let me talk about statistics, the main driving and operating mechanism behind surveying. Statistics is the “science that deals with the collection, presentation, organization, analysis and interpretation of data”. (Almeda, 2) It is utilized in different fields of study, in the natural and social sciences, business and economics. In fact, as Parel claims, statistics can be applied in almost every field of study known to man.(“Introduction”) Surveys are statistical applications to the social sciences. The results from the gathered data are then used to improve product quality, modify existing scientific theories or even make forecasts about certain events. There are two major areas of applied statistics: descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics is used to formulate conclusions about a given group of data. However, these conclusions could not be generalized or be made applicable to a larger group, and can only be used to summarize the data gathered. In inferential statistics, conclusions derived from a smaller group...

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