Hello, Peril.
April 25, 2001 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Hello, Peril. The so-called model minority inspire an amazing amount of mistrust, according to a survey of US residents. Featuring the revelation that one third of those polled "said Chinese Americans are more loyal to China than to the United States. "
posted by anildash (56 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
It would appear that flying under the radar is not a successful strategy at avoiding racism. And please forgive me for almost forgetting, Grant: This link courtesy of the inestimable World New York.
posted by anildash at 11:36 AM on April 25, 2001


"According to the survey, 91 percent of Americans believe Chinese-Americans have strong family values, 77 percent said they were honest as business people and 67 percent said they placed a high value on education.
Yet 24 percent of those surveyed said they would not approve of intermarriage with an Asian-American."

< / jaw drops >
posted by allaboutgeorge at 11:47 AM on April 25, 2001


Are these kinds of surveys really valuable other than for posting an entry in the "most despised subgroup" sweepstakes? I mean, what is the Chinese-American community supposed to do with this information? The problem is not with them, but with the "1 in 4" who have negative attitudes about them.
posted by idiolect at 12:00 PM on April 25, 2001


1,216 people polled out of 280,000,000 people in the US is 0.0004 % of the population.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:05 PM on April 25, 2001


The value is in exposing the racism, not to mention rampant stupidity, of at least 1/3 of the American people. As for the statistics, the percentage of the population polled is not as relevant as whether that sample is representative of the United States as a whole.
posted by MikeB at 12:09 PM on April 25, 2001


Some of my best friends are.......but I wouln't want my daughter to .......and so it goes. But I know of a number of Chinese who feel the same way about Ghosts (white folks)...this is our world, and it happens in countries other than ours too, no matter what the Other is.
posted by Postroad at 12:12 PM on April 25, 2001


Techgnollogic: I would advise that you should look at this article - it's an excellent explanation of how such a 'small' sample size can yield extremely accurate results.
posted by adrianhon at 12:18 PM on April 25, 2001


You're right, techgnollogic. There are only about 405 people who are racist against Asians in the United States.
posted by anildash at 12:20 PM on April 25, 2001


Yet 24 percent of those surveyed said they would not approve of intermarriage with an Asian-American.

This is a meaningless stat unless they also asked the question, "Do you approve of intermarriage, period?"
posted by aaron at 12:37 PM on April 25, 2001



This thread gets my nomination for thread title of the week.
posted by kindall at 12:38 PM on April 25, 2001


Why ask specifically about Chinese-Americans instead of just Asian-Americans? The results would probably be the same. I mean, I'd think that Japanese-Americans would be liked even less by some people.
posted by gyc at 12:51 PM on April 25, 2001


When I read these types of surveys I think "Great, let's generalize how people generalize people!" But I suppose these are valid data points. When Americans think of an "Asian-American" or "Chinese American", what do they picture? The survey forces them to generalize (or reveals their generalization of) one set of people with different backgrounds. There are Chinese Americans who are descended from the laborers brought over in the 1800s. There are recent immigrants from Taiwan, recent immigrants from the mainland. There are second generation "ABC"s. Some are more "Americanized" than others (whatever that really means). Some are more loyal to their native land than others. Some have relatives in the communist party and can't get higher level security clearance and are shut out of certain jobs. You get my point. But I guess one point of the survey is to answer my question "what do Americans think of when they think of a Chinese-American"? And the response is disappointing to me. But I hope it doesn't enforce the clumping and generalizing even more.
posted by girlhacker at 12:53 PM on April 25, 2001


Anil, great title, yeah. It is supposed to be said in the same tone that Jerry Seinfeld says Hello ... Numan, right?

gyc, I think the Japanese were the target of much anger during the trade wars of the 1980s, but that's subsided a lot. There was even a fad for Japanese management in the early 90s (before their crash). No, it's Chinese now who are bearing the brunt of these old attitudes, in part because China is taking the place of Japan as the de facto Asian leader. Liberalization of immigration policies on both sides has led to a massive (by previous count) influx of Chinese to the US -- they're now over 5% of annual immigrants -- and this makes them seem more visible, even if overall numbers remain minuscule.

It's troubling to me that there are so few Asian-Americans on TV compared even to my experience (and I live in the Midwest). Still, if it's taken until the last couple of years for broadcast series to get over the "token black" syndrome, not to mention the "token gay", it may take a while before we start to see as many Asians as there are around us.

(I'm still embarrassed by the guy from California who I congratulated for speaking English so well. He was third generation Japanese-American. I was 17....)

As for the one third who wouldn't vote for a Chinese-American for President, that shocked me. I've actually been paying close attention to Washington Gov. Gary Locke as a possible future Democratic candidate (it seems to me from afar that he embodies most of what's good about the party and very little of what's bad, but then, his state was in the heart of the economic boom as well).
posted by dhartung at 1:32 PM on April 25, 2001


last sumer i was driving cross country in the south e-->w and literally feared for my life until we reached dallas ft.worth. i don't know which was fear was the strongest: of the country as a city slicker; of open spaces; of imaginary racist psychos; but i was definately most aware of the racist psycho.
posted by elle at 1:41 PM on April 25, 2001


/aside

dhartung: my best friend is Vietnamese, came here when he was 5, graduated first in our high school class with a perfect (really) GPA, went through a 6 year medical program and is now doing his residency @ 25. People keep telling him "how good" his English is.
posted by owillis at 1:46 PM on April 25, 2001


(Hm . . . I thought the thread title was a riff on Hello, Kitty.)
posted by Skot at 1:47 PM on April 25, 2001


It is supposed to be said in the same tone that Jerry Seinfeld says Hello ... Numan, right?

After seeing the subject matter, I initially though it was supposed to be read like “Hello, Kitty” and was momentarily taken aback.

It's crap like this that sometimes makes me hate the fact that I'm white.
posted by Danelope at 1:51 PM on April 25, 2001


Beat me to it, Skot. <grin>
posted by Danelope at 1:52 PM on April 25, 2001


One survey I'd like to see is an age-based survey. I know friends' grandparents still harbor resentment towards the Japanese from WWII. I've had older folks ask me "Are you Chinese or Japanese dear?" and felt a breath of relief when I respond I'm Chinese. And there's the "made in Japan is bad" eighties sentiment that Dan mentioned. How do racist attitudes differ amongst age groups? Will the open minded kids grow up and stay open minded? It's still my idealist wish that as people "grow up" the problem will get better. Another way to slice this is what part of the country people are from. Moving to California's mixed culture, where how I look is accepted without comment, was a big change from growing up in '70s-'80s New England. (great links, as always, Dan, thx.) And, to comment on the /asides ... when I've traveled (in the U.S.) I've been asked a few times (or worse, my Caucasian traveling companion is asked for me) if I can speak English.
posted by girlhacker at 1:58 PM on April 25, 2001


Dan, you bring up a good point about underrepresentation in the mainstream media. I think the last time I remember seeing an Indian character as a regular on a major network was Jawarhalal on Head of the Class. Our Proudest Moment.

(For the inevitable Simpsons fans: Apu is voiced by Hank Azaria. Unfortunately, Apu is still the most well-rounded, fully-developed Indian character on television. And he's literally two-dimensional.)

Don't get me started on Margaret Cho's show. I think Asians are now upwards of 2% of the U.S. population. I'm suspecting that's inifinitely larger than the number of asian americans depicted on TV, percentage-wise. Hell, even the medical dramas rarely show Indian doctors, begging the question of whether the writers have been to a doctor in the past decade...

I'm hoping to get to the point in a few years where there are enough Asians in mainstream media that I can complain about how they're presented.
posted by anildash at 1:59 PM on April 25, 2001


As an aside: many Japanese believe Koreans to be very low class, very inferior, and there is a strong bias against the thousands of Koreans who live in Japan. My son is married to a Korean girl and they will in a month be moving to Japan...I have found her to be inscrutable.
posted by Postroad at 2:10 PM on April 25, 2001


Whew Anil... I've been sitting here trying to think of Indian characters or actors on American TV and you're right... I can't think of any (bit parts for taxi drivers maybe? augh.) I'm relatively content (not jumping up and down, mind you) with the recent Chinese and Korean parts I've seen (Ming-Na on E.R., the best friend on Gilmore Girls with the strict Korean parents, Ensign Kim on ST:Voyager, etc). Why have Indians been overlooked? I see them everywhere around me (granted I live in Silicon Valley, but I assume the percentages have increased in many areas).
posted by girlhacker at 2:14 PM on April 25, 2001


Sorry for the long rant, but I forgot something re: thread title. For those who don't know: Yellow Peril is an old slander used to describe the "infiltration" of the U.S. by people of asian descent. More info on the history of the term here, a simple definition here, or if you're racist, find your perspective represented here.
posted by anildash at 2:18 PM on April 25, 2001


Unfortunately, Apu is still the most well-rounded, fully-developed Indian character on television.

Fortunately, the BBC has Goodness Gracious Me, proving that you can get beyond stereotypes by making fun of them. (And showing how far we've gone since "It Ain't Half Hot, Mum".)
posted by holgate at 2:30 PM on April 25, 2001


I think techgnollogic raised a good point. 1,216 people polled isn't an enormous sample size. That the sample only represents a tiny fraction of the US population isn't as significant as the fact that the sample size isn't that large in absolute terms.

Then again, maybe I'm trying to be optimistic; my wife is Taiwanese.
posted by Loudmax at 2:32 PM on April 25, 2001


Of course we can complain about the representation of Chinese Americans in mainstream media. 1) There's Lucy Liu. She's "sassy" and "exotic," which seems to be the collective view of Asian American women these days. This view of Asian American women as "exotic" is a direct result of the views last century of Asians as a dangerous paril. Before Lucy Liu, who at least works with some Asian American groups, there was Connie Chung, who only rose in the media because she consciously hid all of her Chinese features, both physical and cultural. She acted like a white woman, married a white man, and LOOKED like a white woman. By doing this, she made it acceptable to like her in a time when there were no Chinese people on TV to like.

2) There are very few Asian men in the media. I guess you can count Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, but they're kind of viewed as a novelty, with their fighting skills that are sort of viewed upon like a... I want to say freak show, but it's not quite that bad. Asian men are viewed as weak, quiet, meek, and somewhat un-masculine. The fighting skills don't count toward masculinity -- they're a novelty. When was the last time you saw Jackie or Sammo get the girl? Action heroes always get the girl. But not the Asian ones.

What I'm trying to say is that World New York is right when they saw that Chinese Americans, in fact all Asian Americans, still have a long way to go. And through the media doesn't seem to be the way to do it right now.
posted by jeanhank at 3:00 PM on April 25, 2001


Re: Asians in the mainstream media
Among those people already mentioned, you have Rosalind Chao (Keiko Ishikawa-O'Brien) on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, and Lucy Liu on “Ally McBeal”, though she manages to perpetuate the stereotypical "dragon lady" (apologies in advance for the use of said term), so I'm not sure she counts as a positive influence.

Re: Indians in the mainstream media
Ravi Kapoor stars in “Gideon's Crossing”, and if we aren't limiting our scope to television, M. Night Shyamalan, the writer/director of such films as “The Sixth Sense” and ”Unbreakable”, is Indian as well.

By no means am I trying to excuse the lack of Asian and Indian actors on American television, but I'm forced to wonder what the correct solution to this situation would be? If writers deliberately begin writing Asian/Indian characters into their shows, would that revive the notion of 'token' actors in the mainstream media? Would shows centered around all-Asian or all-Indian families be seen as a cultural broadening on TV, or would the bar be lowered (as on Margaret Cho's show) to pander to the white American idiots who believe these sort of things in the first place?

I think the problem lies more in portraying Asian and Indian people accurately and with *dignity* than merely increasing their respective numbers on television.
posted by Danelope at 3:14 PM on April 25, 2001


I wasn't trying to say Lucy Liu was a positive influence, but I'd rather be in with the dragons than with the Connie Chungs... she's the lesser of two evils, though still evil.

Why don't they just have a guy on the show who's just a normal human being, just Asian? There doesn't really need to be any jokes on the fact that he's Asian, or anything like that. Just a guy who is Asian. That would be great.
posted by jeanhank at 3:32 PM on April 25, 2001


Oh, I wasn't referring to your comment, Jean. I actually didn't see it prior to posting my own. Sorry about the confusion.
posted by Danelope at 3:35 PM on April 25, 2001


Well, at least in sports asians are held in reasonable repute (perhaps, at least some of the time). There's Jeanette Lee who is not only one of the top ranked women's billiards players, but also a stunningly beautiful woman. She's been making a bundle doing advertising. She's always a crowd pleaser in any tournament she enters. It's always particularly fun when The Black Widow (in her trademark black outfits) takes on The Duchess of Doom in a final; some of the best billiards you'll ever see. They take no prisoners.

About two weeks ago, Hideo Nomo pitched a no-hitter.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:51 PM on April 25, 2001


One very positive use of a Chinese actor from my recent memory was Ming-Na as Trudy Sloan on the sitcom "The Single Guy". The part wasn't written for an Asian, nor was the fact that she was Asian part of the plot (I didn't watch every episode so I may be wrong), but she convinced them to let her have it, because it really shouldn't matter. Best case situation in my book!

Sports: let's not forget the skaters: Tiffany Chin, Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan (and more to come).

Lucy Liu: Because I find most of the characters on Ally McBeal to be caricatures, I don't mind their portrayal of Ling as much as I could. The character always surprises me with her independence and little side businesses. There's actually something of substance underneath, which is more than the two-dimensional dragon lady.

Connie Chung: She was the only public role model I had way back when, and I almost went into media & communications because I had her as a positive example. You bring up some interesting points, jeanhank, as I hadn't considered how "vanilla" she had to become to get ahead. But I think (hope) that in my life Connie was a positive influence. (But I don't think I'm marrying a Caucasian because she did!! Nor do I think she did that to seem more white. I hope.)
posted by girlhacker at 4:22 PM on April 25, 2001


gyc: Why ask specifically about Chinese-Americans instead of just Asian-Americans? The results would probably be the same. I mean, I'd think that Japanese-Americans would be liked even less by some people.

You reminded me that this was in the link I had up top: The survey, done by interviewing 1,216 Americans at least 18 years old by telephone randomly across the country, found that many of the attitudes toward Chinese-Americans were applied to Asian-Americans generally because most non-Asian Americans did not differentiate between the two.

aaron: This is a meaningless stat unless they also asked the question, "Do you approve of intermarriage, period?"

The survey's about Asian Americans. I don't see what approval of intermarriage, period, has to do with it. It's a valid poll question. Calling it meaningless doesn't make it so.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 4:32 PM on April 25, 2001


I think the idea is that if someone is against racial intermarriage overall, then expressing an attitude against intermarriage between Chinese and non-Chinese would not actually necessarily indicate specific racism against Chinese people so much as a specific application of a general racism against nearly everyone.

If someone says "I'm against Chinese intermarriage because I'm against all interracial marriage" it's a bit different than "I think interracial marriage is fine except with those Chinese people I hate so much".

The purpose of the poll, ostensibly, was to determine the extent to which there was specific prejudice against Chinese people, not general prejudice against everyone not-like-me. The question, as asked, can't really differentiate the two.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:41 PM on April 25, 2001


While the argument that the intermarriage question in the poll has questionable significance is valid, I don't think it's the main point here. In fact, in the articles about the survey, it's the last statistic mentioned. The point is the appalling fear that 1/3 of Americans apparently have for Chinese Americans and also that they think they hold more loyalty to China. I'd guess that a similar proportion hold similiar fears for African Americans too. This goes to show that the "model minority" myth of Asian Americans is not true after all; that we face the same struggles as all other minorities in the struggle for a voice in American society.

I don't think the fact that the survey specifically asks about "Chinese Americans" is really all that significant, since most Americans (and, for that matter, some Asians) cannot tell the differnce between the different ethnicities that make up the group "Asian American." This survey should be just as valid for gauging the feelings toward other Asian American groups as well.

As a side note, I really find this surprising, as I don't feel like 1/3 of the people I've come in contact with harbored these feelings toward me. I'd like to see more in-depth studies on this matter before I make any conclusions.
posted by jeanhank at 5:36 PM on April 25, 2001


This survey validates some of my thinking about what minorities mean in the U.S. Many times, the term minority implicitly only includes Hispanics and African-Americans. People like to say, "oh, Asian Americans, obviously they're not discriminated against so much. Look at them, they good good grades and good jobs! Obviously we don't need to help them!" For example, at my University, the University turned down a request for an Asian-American cultural house because Asian-Americans were not underrepresented, while African-Americans and Hispanics had their own cultural houses.
posted by gyc at 6:22 PM on April 25, 2001


Danelope: By no means am I trying to excuse the lack of Asian and Indian actors on American television, but I'm forced to wonder what the correct solution to this situation would be? If writers deliberately begin writing Asian/Indian characters into their shows, would that revive the notion of 'token' actors in the mainstream media?

What troubles me is that the lack of South Asian actors on TV must result from deliberate decisions not to hire South Asians at each and every casting call. It's absurd to think that there are no South Asian actors auditioning for roles in TV and movies, so what's the deal?

gyc: Why ask specifically about Chinese-Americans instead of just Asian-Americans?

It is worth reiterating that east and southeast Asia are home to many different cultures. Americans of Asian origin have certain issues in common but it is folly (at best) to conflate any one group with all people from Asia.
posted by sudama at 6:43 PM on April 25, 2001


Some of my best friends are.......but I wouln't want my daughter to .......and so it goes. But I know of a number of Chinese who feel the same way about Ghosts (white folks)...this is our world, and it happens in countries other than ours too, no matter what the Other is.

Fred, I agree with you that all cultures have racism. Nevertheless I think that no culture has as much racist bad attitude and as much invested in the notion of race as good ol' WASP culture. Sometimes I wonder whether it's in the genes...(joke)

That doesn't mean that the Chinese don't consider themselves to be the finest and greatest people on the planet. They just don't tend to feel the need to brag about it as much.

My personal experience of the word "ghost" i.e. gwailo is that it is generally used in a light-hearted manner, I've never heard it used with quite the same bitter edge as "gook" or "slope". I don't find it offensive.

Anyway my inlaws generally prefer to call me White Monkey! ;-j
posted by lagado at 6:47 PM on April 25, 2001


Heeey... how about they hire the best actor for the job? Works for "both sides" I would think.
posted by owillis at 6:48 PM on April 25, 2001


I agree with jeanhank that it doesn't seem that 1/3 of the people I come in contact with are harboring these thoughts. But I have come across people who will say something (I think is) racist about Chinese or other Asians and then realize I'm there and say "Oh, but not YOU... you're not like that at all of course!" Or, probably equally bad, they'll say something complimentary (and yes, I do appreciate that they are trying to compliment me) about how all us Chinese people study so hard and are so smart, etc. It makes me wonder if the survey may be accurate, because when faced with Chinese Americans as a group, people will stereotype and be less open minded. It's like that common line used in shows about racism ... someone who has been racist is confronted with "but what about Jeremy? You like him and he's black (gay, latino, from Mars, etc)?" and the person responds "Oh, but he's different! He's not like them! I like him!"
posted by girlhacker at 7:04 PM on April 25, 2001


>>I think techgnollogic raised a good point. 1,216 people polled isn't an enormous sample size. That the sample only represents a tiny fraction of the US population isn't as significant as the fact that the sample size isn't that large in absolute terms.

huh? A sample size of 1216 corresponds to a margin of error of about 3%. Why isn't that good enough?
posted by johnb at 7:21 PM on April 25, 2001


elle writes: last sumer i was driving cross country in the south e-->w and literally feared for my life until we reached dallas ft.worth. i don't know which was fear was the strongest: of the country as a city slicker; of open spaces; of imaginary racist psychos; but i was definately most aware of the racist psycho.

Um, yes, definitely no racists in Dallas-Ft. Worth. Also no psychos, unless you count the late Lee Harvey freakin' Oswald.
posted by raysmj at 7:40 PM on April 25, 2001


elle: just had to add; not trying to sound insensitive, but . . . the only thing to fear more in rural America is, perhaps, the fear of no one maybe being around if something bad happens. But you can wait longer for a policeman or other help in the city, oftentimes, and their cops may not be as sympathetic. (Also, Texas is the most violent state in the union, hands down, with much if not most of that crime coming from its urban areas.) There are also some large Asian-American and specifically Chinese-American communities/parts of larger communities in rural America and smaller urbanized areas, including ones in the South, which have existed for several generations.
posted by raysmj at 8:27 PM on April 25, 2001


I had the sense that Elle meant to emphasize that she was alarmed by the racist psychos she'd conjured up in her own mind, rather than make any statements about the actual greater or lesser concentration of racists, psychos, or combinations thereof to be found in those parts. But perhaps I surmise too much.
posted by redfoxtail at 8:33 PM on April 25, 2001


One should also make a distinction between those who just came from China, those who were brought up by parents who came here from China late in their life and those that simply have Chinese heritage, etc.

I know a lot of people whose parents came from China, and they certainly have a different frame of mind. Not all, but most. They were brought up this way. It's simply a different culture. For example, marriage: I've never seen so many whites that are set to marry another white person. (or they won't admit it). But individuals from the group above have parents that certainly want their kids to find a spouse of the same race, and the kids seem to as well.

I think the whole business of Asian/minority actors needs to be considered in this light: Asians represent 5% of the total population (or whatever else). That said, it everything was absolutely fair, 5% of the professional actors would be Asian (Is that true now?), and 5% of TV actors would be Asian. I don't watch much TV, so you make the call if there's 5% Asian actors.... It's all about proportionallity.
posted by Witold at 8:39 PM on April 25, 2001


Oliver, unlike giving out a contract to build a bridge or renting an apartment or admitting a student to college, choosing an actor for a part specifically has to take into consideration how they look. You can't choose the best actor for to play Rhett without saying, "Does he look like Rhett Butler should look?" When casting directors ask themselves about a South Asian actor trying out for almost any part that don't rely specifically on South Asian-ness (clerks at the Kwik-E Mart, say), the answer, almost without fail, is no.
posted by snarkout at 8:44 PM on April 25, 2001


Racism is an interesting thing.

Working in the service industry, I've always found "asians" (those who are very much so from asia), to be unapproachable and intimidating. Somewhere in my psyche I'm told that the "rudest" one's are probably from "China"--but I have no idea.

Yet instead of translating that all into distrust, fear or hatred, I've always thought it a shortcoming of mine. My few years on Earth (26) versus its vast size and the multudinous cultures it carries makes the place I live so much more interesting.

For instance, the restaurant in which I work carries the Northwest Asian Weekly. And today I noticed this story. I'd never thought about it before! Asian women get depressed too.

We learn as we go. Hopefully the same goes for our "American" culture.

I can't link to the story itself. But off to the right side you can click to what I'm talking about. Or read all of it!
posted by crasspastor at 9:20 PM on April 25, 2001


Noticed that the Asian-American character in HBO's okey-dokey sports agent dramedy or comera something-or-the-other "Arliss," is described as having a lot of appeal and sass. But then again she's described as a "Girl Friday." Just to give you an idea of the types of enlightened folks you're dealing with here in general. It's called Hollywood.
posted by raysmj at 9:57 PM on April 25, 2001


Lilly said: Ming-Na as Trudy Sloan on the sitcom "The Single Guy"

I'm glad she pointed it out, because it was one that stuck with me a long time, too, and I forgot to mention it. I was so genuinely happy to see her, and actually watched ER for a while when she joined the cast.

Just to drift a bit, does anyone know what happened to the "Wen" in Ming-Na Wen?
posted by anildash at 10:56 PM on April 25, 2001


As an anecdote: 2 years ago my mom and I drove east to west and I can't remember a time when I felt more aware of my "blackness" (once we got out of the south).

Especially when we stopped to get gas in the middle of Montana at the "Testicle Festival". My friends, that was scary.
posted by owillis at 11:04 PM on April 25, 2001


Great documentary about one Asian American woman who married a non-Asian person, and traveled the US searching for insight to her identity and Asian-Americans in the US in general. It's aired pretty often here in SF...

"MY AMERICA (... or honk if you love Buddha)"
http://www.pbs.org/myamerica/
posted by bside at 1:44 AM on April 26, 2001


Just to drift a bit, does anyone know what happened to the "Wen" in Ming-Na Wen?

I posed the same question when I first saw the cast listing for Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. She probably changed her name for the same reason Siddig El-Fadil became Alexander Siddig.
posted by Danelope at 6:48 AM on April 26, 2001


Dan, she changed her name because she got married and is no longer a Wen. As a kind of joke, she was originally called Deb Chen, but on her return, she is now called simply Chen. (One character says in passing, "What happened to "Deb"? Her new first name Jing-Mei is rarely used. Her re-hiring, and possibly her name, are apparently due to the 1998-99 minority-presence pressure on the networks.)

Incidentally, my uncle's second wife is Filipina-American. They met in New Jersey, and she's a professional HR director-type person.
posted by dhartung at 11:47 AM on April 26, 2001


johnb: how do you arrive at that margin of error?
posted by techgnollogic at 10:24 PM on April 26, 2001


A survey's margin of error is roughly equal to 1 divided by the square root of the sample size; in this case 1/sqrt(1216) = about 3%. (It's actually 3.1%, calculated using a more precise formula).
posted by johnb at 11:09 PM on April 26, 2001


You mean the total population size doesn't enter into the margin-of-error calculation at all? I find that extremely difficult to believe. Or is that in the more precise formula?
posted by kindall at 11:18 PM on April 26, 2001


Kindall, yes, it's counterintuitive. However, it really is correct. It's sort of like the "birthday paradox". Beyond a certain point, expanding the sample yields diminishing returns, and a valid sample size is not really related to the size of the whole beyond a certain point.

However, that margin of error is based on statistics and it assumes that the sample is selected randomly. In times past some polls were biased by the fact that they were performed over the phone and it turned out that phone subscribers weren't representative of the population as a whole. These days phone subscription is common enough so that it really is representative. Interestingly, in ten years it may again cease to be; it's beginning to be common for people to dispense with their landlines and to rely exclusively on cell phones, and it's against the law to call a cell phone for this kind of thing so this may again induce a bias into results.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:48 AM on April 27, 2001


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