Saturday, May 8, 2010

The census will be wrong. We could fix it.

This is sort of a professional pet peeve among statisticians, and the issue comes up with every census;

Jordan Ellenberg writes: Opponents say that statistical adjustment would violate the constitutional requirement of an "actual enumeration" of the population. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in 1998 that the Constitution's language was "arguably incompatible . . . with gross statistical estimates." The sampling adjustment is indeed an estimate of the population -- but so is the unadjusted number, which estimates that the number of Americans missed is zero! To choose the raw count is to be wrong on purpose in order to avoid being wrong by accident.

Emphasis added. There are demonstrably better statistical methods to perform census estimates, and they should be used.

[Hat Tip 2 Terence Tao]
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