Thursday, August 24, 2006

Forbes Study Seriously Flawed

Speaking anecdotally, no one who has visited America's largest cities—i.e., Chicago, Portland, Austin, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, etc.—would rank the Twin Cities as the nation's second drunkest city. So when Anti-Everything advertised that Forbes's special report on "America's Drunkest Cities" offers Minneapolis-St. Paul as second only to Milwaukee, something is certainly mistaken. Sure enough, a quick look at the methodology behind David M. Ewalt's (pictured) report reveals a seriously flawed method of ranking.

The chief problem with Ewalt's rankings is that they are significantly more precise than his database allows. His data on "Drinkers," "Heavy Drinkers," and "Binge Drinkers" comes from the 2004 "Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey." The results for Minnesota can be found here. The results are state-level estimates often based on a small number of respondents. In 2004, the survey says, "almost 6 percent of Minnesota adults reported heavy drinking in the past 30 days. Minnesota adults are similar to adults nationally in reporting heavy drinking." Minnesota hovers right around the national median. Nothing new, nothing to write home about.

But in the hands of David M. Ewalt, author of "The Best-Selling Videogame Franchises," and " How To Become A Superhero," such data magically becomes a quasi-scientific way to rank the drunkest metros in America. What he doesn't say is that the difference between number 2 and number 10 is probably .1 percent, which is also probably well within the huge margin of error, if he bothered to calculate that. Forbes.com should not be trafficking in such bogus reports that don't withstand even the slightest scrutiny.

2 comments:

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Anti-Everything said...

man you are just a fun hater