Friday, February 5, 2010

SWS answers questions from Sentro

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of interviewing the President of one of the most respected poll organization in the Philippines, Dr. Mahar Mangahas of SWS (Social Weather Stations). For 45 minutes, Sentro asked the most persistent questions (even complaints) we all have on surveys, and Dr. Mangahas gamely answered all of them.

Some of the questions we asked are as follows:
1. Where do they get their funds?
2. What is the value of surveys for Voters? How should voters treat surveys?
3. What is his take on the bandwagon effect of surveys?
4. How they conduct their surveys and make sure such conduct do not have any effect on the responses?
5. What are the steps they do to conduct the surveys?
6. How can a small number of respondents (e.g. 2,100) reflect the feel of large number of voters (about 50M)?
7. How they make sure their surveys reflect the true situation (Quality Control)?
8. What is the chance of an average voter to be surveyed by SWS?

In the end, although we insist that SWS should at least issue a disclaimer (or I should have used a better word, guidance) on the people's treatment of surveys, in my mind to limit the spin politicians make on their results, Dr. Mangahas maintains that their surveys reflect the real pulse of the people at the time of the survey and it is up to anybody to use them as they wish. Surely though, people should blame people who put a spin on data rather on the organization that gathered it.

The archived broadcast may now be listened online from this link.

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