The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

That Balcombe Arithmetic Should Read 82% of 33% of Residents Say Frack Off…..

As I live just a few miles north of Balcombe the global media frenzy over  this rather nondescript village has been of particular interest – partly because it has become a textbook example of that classic political/media ploy of “How To Lie With Statistics”

The figure of 82% of Balcombe residents opposing fracking in the surrounding area outside  has become a talismanic number in the public “debate” around this issue. It conjures up a heartwarming image of the little people taking on the dark legions of Big Oil and has been much used by outsiders to justify their willingness to “help” the local “community” by orchestrating a series of well choreographed “protests” to show their “solidarity” with the residents.

There is no doubt that a significant number of villagers have their concerns about the issue and they have certainly captured the attention of the media with their noise. But do they really represent a significant majority of Balcombe’s residents?

During August and September the Parish Council conducted a poll to establish the views of the residents on the attitude to fracking that the Parish Council should adopt. A polling card was delivered to every residence in the Parish and, when the poll closed on 10th September, 284 polling cards had been returned. 234 (82%) expressed the view that the Parish Council should oppose fracking, 30 that it should not, 16 had no strong views, and 4 polling cards were invalid.

Wow, that certainly sounds convincing…..until the more attentive observer might spot the absence of what is always the key figure in any survey – how many polling cards were not returned?

It seems to be the case that only 33% of residents responded to the survey. Now this is something which immediately changes the arithmetic of the poll and questions the legitimacy of the claim that well over three quarters of the citizens of Balcombe oppose fracking.

the much quoted “82 per cent of residents” actually should read the “82% of the 33% of residents who responded to the questionnaire”. That means the 66% (those who didn’t respond) plus the 18% of those that did but who are in favour / with no firm opinion are being out shouted by the 26% of villages who are anti-fracking

But then  “82% of the 33% of residents who responded to the questionnaire say frack off” on a placard wouldn’t quite have so much of an impact……

posted by david in Environment and have Comments Off on That Balcombe Arithmetic Should Read 82% of 33% of Residents Say Frack Off…..

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