Monday, 1 March 2010

Lies, damn lies and statistics

Well, you will be pleased to know that 80% of you were correct in suggesting that the two unsynchronised birders on the left were indeed looking in vain for Ruppell's Warblers. From this I can summise:
1) That 80% of you have visited this unprepossessing site by a main road in Lesvos.

2) That 4 out of 5 of you recognised immediately the typical Ruppell's habitat of barbed wire and concrete

However, the results are arguably statistically flawed by the fact a paltry 5 of you summoned up the half hearted interest to play. I presume that this also included a person in the photo, who I would venture to suggest would have had a slight advantage. Now I use stats unashamedly for work and even I would struggle to draw a meaningful conclusion from such a result, although I'm sure I once proved the economic value of Bitterns from a survey of people visiting Leighton Moss. It's amazing what people say they will pay to see a bird when it doesn't involve real money (it's called hypothetical bias if you must know - extremes of which have been shown to involve people stating a willingness to pay for stuff in excess of their annual income). If you're ever approached by a graduate researcher at a nature reserve and asked the question make sure you inflate hugely what you'd pay to visit - and then take satisfaction in the fact that the findings will be totally invalid. How you'll laugh...or am I a bit out of touch? Thought so.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I did take part in the voting. But you know my memory... I wasn't even sure where that picture was taken, nor if I'd ever seen any of the birds on the list. Have I been to Lesvos?
    I do, however, recall that jolly event in the hide with the black-headed gull carrying a stick. Now that you've published this fine tale on the web, I'll have to exclude it from my forthcoming memoirs, dagnabit.