Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Survey Says...

While Canadians want to support Canadian farmers, support for paying more for dairy and chicken is weakly affirmative.  Overall, Canadians aren't totally thrilled with Free Trade, in spite of decades of experience under various trade agreements.  Perhaps too many have lost jobs to Mexico and China, and the weak economy scares them more.
Forum Research Survey Results as reported by Canadian Business magazine
CB Magazine has a skewed interpretation, as described below

A telephone survey of 1,238 Canadians was conducted by Forum Research on May 27-28, 2013.  The results are in the graphs to the right, as reported by Canadian Business Magazine.  The caption in the graph proposes a skewed interpretation of the survey results, likely in support of their friends in the #ChickenMafia who place many ads in their magazine.

Let's analyze the data, and see if we can prove the bias of the survey and Canadian Business Magazine.

Table 1:   Raw Survey Data
While I love digging into statistics like this, most people quickly fall asleep, or their vision soon blurs.  I have therefore done the analysis for you, to make it easier.

The first step was to convert the pretty pictures to a table of numbers, as shown in the next table.

Table 2:  Adjusted survey data to re-distribute "Don't Know" respondents
Second step is to eliminate those who "Don't Know".  In surveys, it's typical to distribute these lost souls into the other categories in the same proportion as they enjoy without the Don't Knows.  That adjusted data is shown in Table 2.

Next, we need to simplify the data, reducing all the 4 degrees of agreement into one aggregate % Agreement.

Survey Like Our Senses

The senses (eg. hearing, taste, sight, touch, smell, etc.) work on a logarithmic scale, not linear.  If we extend this to emotions, then "Strongly Agree" isn't twice as much agreement as "Agree", it's likely 10 times more agreement.  We also assume that Agree and Disagree are equally separated and balanced about the point of indifference between them.  To combine all answers together, we weighted "Agree Strongly" as +100 and "Agree" as +10 and "Disagree" as -10 and "Strongly Agree" as -100.

Test Data in Table 3
To show you that this isn't a mathematical trick, Table 3 shows some dummy data as a test and example that uses this same scoring system for an assumption of 100 people surveyed with 6 questions.

Table 3: Dummy data to show proposed weighting
system is consistent and useful.
For Question #1 ("Q1"), 100 people answered and all of them said "Strongly Disagree".  Our proposed scoring system weights calculates 0.00% Agreement.  Makes sense so far.

For Q2, we have 100% "Strongly Agree", and get 100% Agreement.  OK!

For Q3, it's evenly split between all 4 answers, and our weighted answer calculate out to 50%.  OK again!

Q4 shows 100% saying "Disagree", for a weighted score of 45%.  Remember, neutrality is located in between "Agree" and "Disagree", and would be the 50% point.  That is why Q3 scores 45%.

For same reasons, Q5 with 100% answering "Agree" gets a weighted score of 55%.

In Q6, there is a heavy leaning towards Agree, each category about double the responses of the former category, but it's far from unanimous.  We calculate an 80.5% agreement.  Note that adding "Strongly Agree" responses to "Agree" responses for Q6 gets us a total of 85% of the respondents, but our %Agree score is just 80.5%.  That is the non-linear effects in the weighting system at work.

Analysis of Our Survey Data
Now that we have confirmed our proposed weighting system works, let's apply it to our real survey data, with the results in Table 4.

Table 4:  Weighted Survey Data Results

This survey is mainly about Free Trade, and whether we should protect some of our domestic industries such as chicken, dairy, telecom, banking, and airlines.  Now that we have done the preparatory work, let's see what the survey results say.

From Question #1, two thirds of Canadians support the concept of trade agreements, which I thing means they support Free Trade.

From Question #2, 81.54% want to protect Canada's dairy and poultry sectors, in spite of EU's objections that this is unfair trade barriers.  Wow!  That's the strongest response in the whole survey.  That farming sector has the Canadian public in the hip pocket of every farmer's coveralls.

However, let's look a little closer into the wording of the Q2 question, the assumption contained inside the question, and the psyche of the Canadian public.

As a parent, I have watched as my two kids fought like cats and dogs, then 5 minutes later they're having fun together.  On one occasion, they were fighting about something, then a friend of one of them stuck their nose into the argument, trying to support their friend against their sibling.  The two of them both turned simultaneously like wolverines, and attacked the friend butting in as a team of two.  To them, it was all right to attack each other, but nobody else, especially not an outsider could attack a fellow family member and get away with it.

Now let's apply that "family" scenario to the response in Question #2.  We're all Canadians, but it's the EU complaining about fellow Canadians and a Canadian industry.  Do we stand together in solidarity?  You betcha!  No wonder Q2 got such a strong response.  To me, this question is biased, and the one sided survey results show it.  The Q2 question is improperly worded.  The survey people asked a loaded question, so they got a loaded answer.  This Q2 question therefore creates propaganda fodder due to its underlying assumptions.  Hindsight and a separate pair of eyes works wonders after the fact.

For Question #3, it's a far weaker response from Canadians.  Look out banksters!  You and those cell phone companies who charge crazy cell phone bills, costing us an arm & a leg are in trouble.  No wonder the Federal Government have these two industries in their gun sights, as evidenced in the most recent Throne Speech.

For Question #4, we have the weakest answer of all 5 questions in the survey.  Only 58% of Canadians are willing to pay higher prices to protect and support the Canadian dairy and poultry industries and Supply Management ("SM") in general.  Look out SM, your Achilles' Heal is showing!  However, the wording of the question again is loaded and biased.  Note that the verb used is "would be willing", which is the conditional present form of the verb "willing", meaning it's an open hypothetical.  Time and again, people will generally agree in surveys to open hypotheticals, then choke at the subsequent moment of truth.  Many businesses lose fortunes when they launch a new product or service based on open hypotheticals, and the customers never come to buy.  I believe it's the same here.  Secondly, how many people realize they are already paying 300% more for chicken, and 38% more for dairy?  Most people are shocked when I share that factoid with them.  They knew it was more in Canada, but are totally shocked by the true magnitude of the difference.  The survey misleads people in this area, and is therefore a biased survey.  The results to that question cannot be trusted.

For Question #5, it is a generic Free Trade question, and it has the highest "Unknown" category.  For this reason alone, the answer is far less trustworthy.  Most people want to seem intelligent, involved, and aware. Answering "I don't know" is often a difficult place to go.  All surveys need to be treated with caution when the "Don't Know" gets above 10%; which is true in this case with a survey score of 22% "Don't Know".

Are Canadians Free Traders ?
I have proposed that 3 of the 5 questions are worded as pro-Free Trade (Q# 1, 3, and 5), and two are worded as against Free Trade (Q# 2, and 4).  Positive and negative wording of questions is a standard technique used in surveys, so this is good to see.

When we add all of the questions up on the Free Trade issue, we get an aggregate average of 49.37% in favour of Free Trade.  As 50% would be a neutral outcome (ie. neither for or against Free Trade), I suggest this survey outcome at 49.37% is too close to call; a hung jury.  With survey results like that, most wise politicians will stall until a clear majority appears, then the politicians will jump out in front of the trend, and lead them the last few steps.

Note that Canada got the Auto Pact in 1965 (ie. 48 years ago), and NAFTA in 1989.  Both of these trade deals had significant positive effects on Canada's economy, deepening and broadening it in most sectors.  Overall, Canada's trade with the US increased by 22% in the first 3 years of NAFTA.  In 1992, a Canadian Chamber of Commerce survey said most businesses were pleased with the results.

Not so much support for Free Trade in Canada any more.  I wonder why?  Perhaps it's the ongoing weakness in the economy and the recent job loss. Ontario was hurt the worst, and sure enough, Forum Research states that Ontario had significantly more negative outcomes in survey results.

Whether Canadians are in love with Free Trade, or now hate it, no Canadian likes being abused by the #ChickenMafia.

I suggest that the #ChickenMafia will redouble their propaganda and obfuscation smoke screen systems to keep Canadians in the dark about how much cheaper chicken is outside Canada.  This redoubling of effort by the #ChickenMafia will merely delay the ultimate outcome.  Once it is generally know how badly the #ChickenMafia is continually screwing the public, there will be hell to pay.

For us Small Flockers, we need to focus on communicating the consequences for Canadians caused by the continual price gouging by the #ChickenMafia and get the word out to everyone as soon as possible.  That's the Achilles' Heal of the #ChickenMafia as we learn from this survey.

Let's see in the long run who wins.  It's hard to hide the truth forever.  Eventually, we will win.  It's only a matter of time.

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