Silver tested the last digit in every percentage polled in all of Strategic Vision’s surveys, which he suggested should be evenly distributed among all 10 digits.
But he found that, for instance, ‘8’ appeared at the end of a number in 60 percent more numbers than ‘1.’ He said it was “an incredible fluke – millions to one against.”
The suggestion, made patently but couched as to avoid legal trouble, is that someone invented the numbers and, for whatever reason, used ‘8’ as a last digit in an inordinate amount of numbers.
It seems quite strongly possible, nevertheless, that the students polled for this survey don't exist anywhere in Oklahoma but instead on a hard drive somewhere in Atlanta. This is a valuable exercise undertaken by the OCPA. But they owe it to the hardworking students of Oklahoma to make sure that their contractor, Strategic Vision, didn't flunk its own citizenship test.
To say that a quantity is "growing exponentially" is just another way of saying that its doubling time is constant. If the quantity takes a year to double, then after one more year, it has doubled again. Thus it will be four times its original value at the end of the second year, eight times its original value at the end of the third year, and so on. Suppose we start the timer when a quantity that is doubling every year has reached the value of 100. Its value will have a leading digit of 1 for the entire first year. During the second year, its value will have a leading digit of 2 for a little over seven months, and 3 for the remaining five. During the third year, the leading digit will pass through 4, 5, 6, and 7, spending less and less time with each succeeding digit. Fairly early in the fourth year, the leading digits will pass through 8 and 9. Then the quantity's value will have reached 1000, and the process starts again. From this example, it's easy to see that if you sampled the quantity's value at uniformly distributed random times throughout those years, you're more likely to have measured it when the value of its leading digit was 1, and successively less likely to have measured it when the value was moving through increasingly higher leading digits.
"A different polling firm that shares a similar name — Strategic Vision Inc. of San Diego, which has no connection to the embattled Atlanta firm — has already suffered some blowback from the flap.
'We’ve had a number of people very confused because one of the things we’re known for is impeccable data,' said Strategic Vision Inc. President Alexander Edwards. 'We have absolutely, positively no relationship whatsoever.'
It’s not entirely clear what the long-term implications will be for Atlanta-based Strategic Vision."*
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