Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The HOA Empire Strikes Back - CAI Tries to Discredit the CotoBuzz Journal

Posted by CotoBlogzz

Rancho Santa Margarita, CA - I expected that the Community Association Industry (CAI) would not take too kindly to my analysis of the Zogby Methodology, mostly due to what behavioral economist Dan Ariely calls Conflict of Interest and that when the psychological distance between  decisions and consequences is vast, it is easier to rationalize.

In the case of Zogby Analytics, while exposed to criticism, it is driven by the profit motive.  In my case, for expressing my views, I am exposed to ridicule and criticism, while my motive is strictly a search for the truth.

Earlier today, the CAI's spokesperson, Frank Rathburn responded to my analysis of the Zogby Methodology with personal attacks, questioning not only my journalistic qualifications but also my qualifications to pass judgment on the Zogby Methodology. It turns out, that one does not net to be a rocket scientist to figure out that the CAI-provided document describing the Zogby Methodology wallows in the never never nebulosities of open-ended possibilities.

While I expected that the CAI would object to my analysis in the strongest terms, I expected the argument to be rational.  I do no longer mind losing an argument, because it implies I learned something.  That we have discussed the issue from different perspectives and cognitive biases have been uncovered.  Not so with Mr. Rathburn's response. He not only launches personal attacks, but also defends the Zogby reports saying: John Zogby is one of the most widely respected pollsters in the world, but your “finding” is hardly surprising. Your bias is blatantly obvious."

Of course, CAI is just following a pattern established by the Tobacco and Sugar Industry:  Discredit industry critics and cast enough doubt, that politicians and the general population will just support the status quo.

Not wanting to give up on really understanding Zogby's Methodology, I tried to explain to Mr, Rathburn in an email my rationale as follows:

I am sorry that you have taken my position on the Zogby Methodology as a personal affront.  It wasn't, nor wast it intended to be.

I also do not want to minimize the qualifications of Zogby Analytics. However, if I were to consider Zogby as a service provider, he would be disqualified, based solely on the basis of the so-called Zogby Methodology as described in the paper you sent me.
However, just  like in the case of the author of the Sugar Papers, Frederick Stare, who founded the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University. which he led as a professor of nutrition until his retirement in 1976, despite his credentials, his position on the benefits of sugar consumption have been discredited.
By definition, a methodology describes the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, and analyze information applied to understanding the research problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability.  

It should answers two main questions: How was the data collected or generated? And, how was it analyzed.

Why?  Because
  • Readers need to know how the data was obtained because the method you chose affects the findings and, by extension, how you likely interpreted them.
  • Methodology is crucial for any branch of scholarship because an unreliable method produces unreliable results and, as a consequence, undermines the value of your interpretations of the findings.
  • The reader wants to know that the data was collected or generated in a way that is consistent with accepted practice in the field of study. 
  • The method must be appropriate to fulfilling the overall aims of the study. 
  • The methodology should discuss the problems that were anticipated and the steps you took to prevent them from occurring. For any problems that do arise, you must describe the ways in which they were minimized or why these problems do not impact in any meaningful way your interpretation of the findings.
  • It is important to always provide sufficient information to allow other researchers to adopt or replicate your methodology. This information is particularly important when a new method has been developed or an innovative use of an exisiting method is utilized.
The Zogby Methodology you sent me, fails to answer the basic questions. If you and or Zogby can produce an actual methodology, I would be more than glad to not only review it, but also try to duplicate and publish the results.

A few minutes later, I got this response from Mr, Rathburn:  "Not worth my time or effort to spend another minute trying to convince you.  Best, Frank"

For additional context, refer to the survey conducted by CCFJ in Florida:  The methodology is understandable and  while different people may draw different conclusions from the data, the methodology is not in question.


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1 comment:

George Staropoli said...

Your rebuttal to Rathburn was excellent. It was a restatement of the long held professional researcher standard requirements for providing research methodology and why. The purpose is to maintain the integrity of the research and the researcher. Other professionals in the industry under research need the data to see if lies are present or that the data has been falsified.

It seems that CAI needs to assert that it alone is the entity to turn to for information about HOA-Land, and nobody else. That's the view expressed by CAI in its CAI Manifesto. And anyone not in agreement with CAI's views just doesn't know anything and should be dismissed forthwith.

Wait, this attitude strikes a note. Wasn't that the belief of the Emporer in The Emporer's New Clothes? And isn't that Cotobuzz who spoke out and cried, "He ain't got no clothes!"