Surveys Can Easily Be Used to Mislead the Public

Surveys Can Easily Be Used to Mislead the Public

A new survey hitting the public that is not related to the presidential election. It focuses on the low-income group as it relates to Smart Grid initiative.  This survey done by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) is purported to support continued Smart Grid investments since the low-income survey “demonstrated” value and interest from them.   The SGCC is made up of the various participants that have much to gain from the Smart Grid initiatives.   I am in no way suggesting a group of participants cannot gain and have the best in mind for society.   There are several parts of the Smart Grid which make sound and practical sense.   However, this article is not focused on that issue, but the fact misleading survey and reporting by media can produce false evidence to support unsubstantiated claims.

If you take the time to download the survey it shows the numbers of respondents and goes through the report quite well.   However I immediately paused on page 12.   Out of the 1001 which surveyed in the low-income group, only 150 had a clue what Smart Grid was about.  Only 220 had a clue on Smart Meters.  However when you start looking at the questions in regards to Smart Grid and Smart Meters ,they had more respondents than the numbers above.   Case in point, page 15 shows the favorability of Smart Grid and Smart Meters.   The responses for this question amounted to 371 and 423. 

 Are we to assume and take note of 221 (60% of response) and 203 (48% of response) who are self-admitted clueless from this subject for the respective category?   Now perhaps there was some form of education after admitting their cluelessness. if so, the report should have told us what education was provided.. I certainly would like to know SGCC explanation of smart grid and meters to a clueless low-income group.    Did they really discuss all the pros and cons for them?   Did they discuss the meter cost will be the same whether you are in 5000+sq ft mansion or 300 sq ft shack?   Did they discuss those who used more energy will save more – similar argument with tax cuts – those who pay more taxes will likely get more of the benefit in a tax cut?   Did they really have the time to inform the clueless to get them to produce a legitimate response?

I really couldn’t absorb all the conclusions the group and many of the media are expounding from this survey.   Once I saw the amount of clueless people, which is understandable since many of them are just trying to get by and have many other more important issues; it just didn’t seem to make sense to draw conclusions from the responses.In my opinion,  they would have done a better job of the survey to only show the 150 and 220 answers rather than continuing to show the clueless responses.

Surveys need to be carefully designed and administered.   The processing of the results should also be well thought out.    If you are looking for some insights and or additional points of view into the future technologies and/or power markets, please consider contacting All Energy Consulting.

Your Energy Consultant,

David K. Bellman


1 Comment

  1. “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

    If you look at any survey and find the answers align with the economic interests of the company or group that funded the research, you can suspect that the questions, analysis and findings were skewed to meet the customer demands.

    Just occasionally we see a poll where the findings conflict with the position of the source of money – then look to see who funded the publication of the results.

    I am agreeing with you David: objective data is very hard to obtain.

    See also

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