Smarter right-wing hacks, please

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Matthew Vadum, pretending he isn't embarrassed by what happened the last time he attacked me, has come back for more:

As I noted yesterday, thin-skinned Jamison Foser of Media Matters wrote Oct. 16 that "some conservative activists induced a statistically insignificant number of the organization's low-level employees to behave badly." [emphasis added]


So far ACORN employees in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Philadelphia have been shown on video behaving badly. On all the videos, ACORN personnel have been cooperative and helpful to the make-believe pimp and prostitute.

So far ACORN personnel in six offices have acted badly. That's six out of six, or 100%.

What are the chances of that happening?

This is -obviously- not statistically insignificant.

Actually, in statistics when a phenomenon keeps repeating itself over and over again and you're batting 1000, it's called a "trend."

Ok. First of all, it isn't "batting 1000," it's "batting 1.000." See, when you divide a number by itself, you don't get 1000 -- you get 1.

Now: I referred to "a statistically insignificant number of the organization's low-level employees" -- not "a statistically-insignificant number of the organization's offices." Vadum knows this; he quoted it. He even took the time to bold part of it. He just didn't take a moment to comprehend it.

So this whole business of "six out of six" is completely irrelevant to anything. If you have six offices, each of which contain 10,000 employees, and each of which employs one person who robs a bank, is it accurate to say a statistically-significant number of your employees robs banks? Of course not. It's utter nonsense.

Now, this next part is awesome:

With the release of the Philadelphia video Wednesday, let's add up the total number of ACORN employees behaving badly.

Unless I'm leaving somebody out:

Baltimore (2): Shera Williams and Tonja Thompson

Washington, D.C. (3): Sherona Boone, Lavernia Boone, unidentified woman

New York City (2): Volda Albert and Milagros Rivera

San Bernardino (1): Tresa Kaelke

San Diego (1): Juan Carlos Vera

Philadelphia (1): Katherine Conway Russell

That's a total of 10 ACORN employees. Of the 10 ACORN employees videotaped, all 10 have acted badly. That's 100% too.

Uh, Matt? Why would you assume that tapes have been released of every employee they talked to? That's utter nonsense. If I videotape 100 people who know Matt Vadum, and 10 of them say he's an idiot, and I release videotape of only those 10 people, then say "See? That's 10 of 10 people videotaped! 100%" ... Well, if I did that, I'd be a dishonest hack. And if you just assumed that I released videotape of everyone I talked to, you'd be a sucker.

Eventually, Vadum seems to realize he's going to have to actually address the total number of ACORN employees:

ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis told "Democracy Now!" Sept. 17 that ACORN has 700 employees.

Assuming Lewis is telling the truth (which is a very risky assumption to make given her proven mendacity) then 1.4% of ACORN's workforce has been shown on video behaving badly.

Of course 1.4% is not as impressive a sample as 8.4% but it is certainly not small.


He's asking people to believe that the 100% of the 10 ACORN employees (representing 1.4% of ACORN's total workforce) shown in videos behaving badly is a statistically insignificant fluke.

Oooh, ooh! Let me try ... OK, I'll take a sample of the Senate Republican caucus ... Let's go with David Vitter. White guy, from the South, conservative -- he's pretty representative. And he constitutes a whopping 2.5% of the caucus. Oh, wow -- I just realized that 100% of the Senate Republicans chosen (representing 2.5% of all Senate Republicans) has been caught using the services of a prostitute! Surely this cannot be a statistically insignificant fluke!

Isn't it fun to do math the Matthew Vadum way?

Fun -- and utterly stupid.

Matthew Vadum
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