Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Read Before You Cite!

Note to self - file this post in the "Look Before You Leap" category!

Looking at The New Zealand Herald newspaper this morning, this headline caught my eye:

"How Did Sir Owen Glenn's Domestic Violence Inquiry Get $7 Billion Figure Wrong?"

$7 Billion? Even though that's (only) New Zealand dollars, it still sounds like a reasonable question to ask, I thought. And (seriously) this is a really important issue, so, I read on.

Here's part of what I found (I've added the red highlighting):
"Sir Owen Glenn's family violence inquiry has stumbled again, producing a $7 billion estimated cost of family violence based on the mis-reading of a key research paper.
A report by economist Suzanne Snively and Wellington theatre student Sherilee Kahui, published by the inquiry yesterday, said family violence cost New Zealand between $4.1 billion and $7 billion a year - up from Ms Snively's last estimate in 1994 of just $1 billion.
But the higher figure of $7 billion was based on a claim that 23.6 per cent of women born in Christchurch in 1977 suffered intimate partner violence in the year leading up to interviews when they were 25 in about 2002.
That figure in the original paper published in 2005 by the Christchurch Health and Development Study actually refers to the number of men as well as women who scored 3 or 4 points on a violence victimisation scale for intimate partner violence.
Two-thirds of people in the study scored below 3 points and 9.4 per cent scored above 4 points.
Those scoring 3 or 4 points were described in the original paper as "predominantly a group of individuals reporting frequent minor psychological aggression and occasionally severe psychological aggression", but "none reported any of the signs of severe domestic violence [injury or fearfulness]"."
To make matters even worse:
"Inquiry spokeswoman Marie McNicholas declined to comment on the latest mistake and referred questions to Ms Snively. Ms Snively said the data was prepared by Ms Kahui.
Ms Kahui said the $7 billion "high-end" figure was not in an early version of the study, which initially included only the "low-end" estimate of $4.1 billion and what is now described as a "moderate scenario" of $4.5 billion.
The high-end estimate was added after experts in Auckland and Wellington said they believed the true domestic violence victimisation rates were higher than the "moderate scenario" rates of 18.2 per cent for women and 1.9 per cent for men.
"We were struggling to find empirical evidence of an estimate that would be higher than 18.2 per cent," Ms Kahui said. "So it was about finding something higher." "
Buck-passing? Attempted cherry-picking? Mis-placed reading glasses?

Oh dear! Really, I'd have expected better than this - especially from a theatre student!

© 2014, David E. Giles

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