Yesterday, I posted about a study by Rodolfo Cortes Barragan and Axel Geijsel, regarding potential election fraud in the 2016 Democratic primaries. Certain people in the comments were critical of the study, its authors and their conclusions. In fact, I believe the most common sentiment related to me in those comments was that the study was “a joke” and “an embarrassment,” and that I should not have posted about it because it lacked any semblance of validity.
I stated at that time I would contact the study’s authors to respond to those objections. I emailed them, and they responded confirming receipt of my email, along with numerous others regarding their study. They informed me that they would do their best to respond to the comments I sent to them from this blog as soon as possible.
I also stated that I had sent the study to my father, Donald T. Searls, a statistician for his entire professional career, for his review.
My dad received his Ph.,D in statistics in 1962. He worked in in both private corporations and quasi-governmental organizations, before becoming a professor of Mathematics and Applied Statistics in the mid-80’s at the University of North Colorado until his retirement in 1996. A more complete bio of his professional career follows:
Donald T. Searls is a retired Professor Emeritus in Mathematics and Applied Statistics at the University of Northern Colorado.
During the course of his career he was Vice President of WESTAT Research in its formative years (now Westat Inc.) working for corporate clients such as Budweiser; Director of Statistics for the Education Commission of the States and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP); and as a Professor at UNC.
He received his Ph.,D from North Carolina State University, where he worked with a number of prominent mathematicians and statisticians at the Research Triangle Institute back in the late 50’s and early 60’s.
He’s been a member of the American Statistical Association for over 50 years. His last published paper was “THROW AWAY ZONES FOR PROBABILITY DISTRIBUTIONS,” presented at the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Statistical Association, August 5-9, 2001. My brother, Trace W. Searls, who also holds a Ph.D in statistics was his co-author. He still maintains a consulting business at the age of 85.
I literally do not know how many papers, monographs, comments to journal articles, etc. my father has authored and published in his lifetime but the number exceeds 100.
I sent him the study regarding potential election fraud in the Democratic primaries in 2016, without telling him why I was interested in it, or that I had posted about it online.
I simply asked him to review it in full and send me his comments as to its methodology and his view as to its validity. For the record, he has been a Republican for as long as I can recall and has no interest in voting for the Democratic nominee, whoever that might be. I received his response via e-mail today. Here is what he wrote:
I like the analysis very much up to the point of applying probability theory. I think the data speak for itself (themselves). It is always problematic to apply probability theory to empirical data. Theoretically unknown confounding factors could be present.
The raw data is in my mind very powerful and clear on its own.
My personal opinion is that the whole process has been rigged against Bernie at every level and that is devastating even though I don’t agree with him.
I called him after receiving his response to clarify his remarks on the application of probability theory to the data. His comment to me was that he did not believe it was necessary for the authors to take that step. If he had done the study himself, he would not have bothered with doing so. As he said, the data speaks for itself.
I will provide a report on the authors response to the criticism received here when I receive it.
Say whatever you like. I am going to let my father’s words speak for themselves.
UPDATE: FWIW, I am adding the following comment at a reddit site to this post as it relates to the issue of why the study’s authors likely included probability theory (the “P value”) in the study, and reflects upon my father’s own comment in the email and to me on the phone re: that issue.
I have a long history (Almost 50 years) with statistics as well. And I also agree with your father. The data speaks for itself. However, I disagree with him that the authors of the study should not have brought in probability theory. The reasons for that are entirely political. This is because reporting statistics has been bastardized in the media over the last few decades. every reported study needs a “P value” even though people reading it do not really understand what the p-value really is. However, this “p-value” has become dominant in the mind of the public. So you give the probability values just because in the minds of the reading public that is what gives the study its validity.