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‘Don’t Try for a Census’

1 May 2019 One Comment

Lyric © 2018
Lawrence M. Lesser
Inspired by the location of JSM 2019, Larry Lesser of The University of Texas at El Paso repurposed a #1 hit (“Annie’s Song”) by John Denver to teach how a sample survey can beat a census.

Don’t try for a census
when the best thing’s a sample.
But now how could a sample
surpass trying for all?
Well, samples are faster
(so less outdated data)
and samples are cheaper
(less workers to hire)!

Sometimes a census
simply can’t even be done:
If you needed a blood test,
should they take some or all?
If they crash-tested all cars,
they’d have no cars to sell you!
Just take a sample
from what is mixed well.

If the sample’s much smaller
than the whole population,
Then precision goals lean on
the sample size n,
Not the sampling fraction:
that is really amazing!
Don’t try for a census,
come sample instead!

You can hear the song on the CauseWeb website.

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One Comment »

  • Vincent Granville said:

    How do they expect people not to lie on census forms, or simply not return them? Forced surveys come with all types of biases and glitches: those who lie are statistically different from people who comply, just to give an example.