Facebook Timeline poll

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PCMag published an article regarding the new Facebook Timeline feature and users' opinions of it.
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The above two images seem contradictory. Either that, or the questions were too vague and user opinions were categorized differently for both the article then pie chart. The informal poll was conducted by Sophos' technology consultants and is admitted to be unscientific due to the likelihood of respondents' "security-mindedness". In Sophos' blog, the consultants wrote in an assuming tone, drawing conclusions about what users were worried about such as "frictionless" apps, personal details, thievery, and more, though respondents were not necessarily asked about these issues. Facebook chose not to respond to the Sophos poll that was made possible by Twtpoll, an online polling platform on Twitter, a rivalry social network of Facebook. PCMag nor Sophos mention the timeline of the so-called survey nor do they have any demographic information, except that they are supposedly Facebook and Twitter users. People more active on Twitter may be less active and/or not in favor of Facebook. Using an app other than Facebook induces bias and inaccuracy due to the inability to verify users. And open-ended responses leave it to the researchers to categorize free responses into like or dislike categories.

Volunteers of America: Aging

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To launch their campaign on a new integrated care and support system for older Americans and their caregivers, Volunteers of America did research with hopes of validating the reasoning for their Aging with Options Initiative. Questions covered topics such as monetary planning, taxes, desire for independence or care, workplace flexibility, and family (as follows):

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The research was conducted by Lake Research Partners and American Viewpoint. 1,200 adults age 45+ were surveyed nationwide, with an oversample of 250 adults ages 45-60 who are care providers to an elder family member. The survey was conducted by phone April 7-14, 2010 and stratified by gender and geographically to reflect the population. The margin of error for the base was +/- 2.8% and +/- 4.4% for the oversample.

VoA used pie charts and bar graphs to represent the numerals and percentages of those surveyed with their responses. The report states that "a woman can expect to spend 18 years caring for a parent" but none of the graphics displayed prove such a claim, including the number of years or gender of care provider. I also have a problem with the limited, close-endedness of the questions. Participants were given the options "yes" or "no" and "not likely", "likely/somewhat likely", and "don't know". There is not enough of a variation in response options and VoA consistently refers to participants of specific examples as "these people", which is not clear enough for such a study needing to be exact. A finding VoA claims to have found is that "most common types of assistance include housework and cooking...medical care, talking with doctors, transportation, and daily activities such as bathing, eating, and getting dressed", however there was no question or poll reported to ask about such duties. Even if people were polled, were they current caregivers or expected caregivers? Whom are they providing care for and what are the disabilities of him/her that require individual care? How many people were polled? Were the questions free response or multiple choice? There are too many variables that a claim cannot be made without more specific findings.

Domestic Workers

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I discovered this study online at ABC News/Washington Post. The findings were summarized and conclusions were drawn based on the questionnaire and in-person in-depth interviews. 2,086 nannies, housecleaners, and caregivers from 14 nationwide metropolitan areas responded to a standardized set of questions via landline and cell phone interviews. 190 domestic workers from 34 various scholarly organizations and worker alliances drafted and guided the research process while multiple piloted the 29 semi-structured interviews and focus groups. Translators and interpreters had to be used as nine different languages were spoken by the participants, as there were 71 different countries of origin. The study spanned from June 2011 to to February 2012 and participants were offered $20 as incentive to complete the 45-60 minute survey.

Here is a demographics chart of the domestic workers:
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The study included questions about pay rates, benefits, and their impact on workers and their families; employment arrangements and employers' compliance with employment agreements; workplace conditions, on-the-job inquiries, and access to healthcare; and abuse at work and the ability to remedy substandard conditions.

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Benefits and contributions to validity are as follows: the sample size was large (almost double the national acceptability rate), the drafting and revision processes and credibility of those involved, the quality and volume of questions asked, the structure and layout in which responses were formulated (i.e. focus groups), and the variety of work amongst domestic workers, leading to generalizability.

Target the Wealthy?

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The ABC News/Washington Post poll reveals that 73% of Democrats are in favor of raising taxes on the rich population making $250,000+, 63% Independents, and only 39% of Republicans. Fiscally conservative Republican views must be taken into consideration and also voter/participant incomes. Opposition to limiting tax deductions peaks at 58% among $100,000+ income earners versus 47% of those earning less than $50,000.

Participants were also asked about "strong" opinions versus general likes and dislikes and the topic of Medicare coverage was also covered. Tax views depend greatly on ideological views, whereas Medicare opinions are similar across the political board and instead relates to age, with 78% of adults between the ages of 50 and 64 opposing the raise of Medicare eligibility age.

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The ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by Langer Research Associates of NY. 1,016 random adults were polled by landline and cell phone nationwide post-election from November 21st to 25th, 2012. The sampling error is 3.5 points.

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Obese kids & food ads

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Some benefits of the research study are the pre and post-tests that were done of all children in both groups of healthy children and obese children. The controlled variable was the showing of the 120 logos to the ten children and the pre and post-testing by MRI scans.

The downfalls of the study are the small-sized participant pool, the limited age range of participants, and the fact that television ads were not actually used in the study. Without scanning the children's brains whilst watching the ads and instead showing them food brand logos is slightly irrelevant and unsupportive of the outcomes the scientists were originally seeking. The logos prove recognition but not significance, and with that, obese children who consume more food are more likely to recognize a variety of logos as opposed to normal weight children.

"Obese kids showed greater activation in the rewards and pleasure centers of the brain, which lit up when they saw the food logos, compared with when they saw non-food logos. Healthy weight kids on the other hand also showed signs of brain activation when shown the food labels, but in brain's self-control centers. Healthy weight children were also more likely to report greater self-control when surveyed after, compared with the obese children."

"In the 1950s and '60s, the favorite vegetable of children in the United States was spinach. That was because of Popeye." This is a statement from the article but no proof that consumption of spinach was directly caused by the popularity of Popeye, and could have merely been a coincidence. The 50s and 60s also had fewer junk food brands and higher consumption of vegetables that can be perhaps be credited to non-working mothers that cooked well-balanced meals for their children.

Fox News Poll of Obama

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The above survey was conducted about twice per month from January 26, 2009 to October 29, 2012 by Fox News under the direction of Anderson Robbins Research and Shaw & Company Research. President Obama's job approval rate is ranked in comparison to former President George W. Bush. The poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with approximately 900 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide. The sampling error is +/- three percent points with minor weights applied to age, race, and gender variables but no political party affiliation variable.

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This screenshot compares Republican opinion to overall opinion. As of the latest October poll, Republican approval rate is at an (almost) all-time low with 90%, whereas Democratic approval is at 91%, clearly demonstrating very strong oppositional views of the Democratic President. Independent approval rate as of October was split at 42% and 52% disapproval.

The poll graphic is undated, so viewers must assume the article has not been updated since the recent presidential election, at a time when Presidential approval may fluctuate greatly and not represent everyday views. The chart is purely visual without any writing or explanation and the sample size, though random, is not necessarily reliable, as it is not an acceptable participation pool with fewer than 1,200 participants. Phone interviews also eliminate some of the population of registered voters that do not have homes with landlines or mobile phones, which eliminates a significant opinion that does indeed matter when it comes to 'overal approval', making the poll ungeneralizable.

YouTube & News

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Through PRSA, I discovered a Pew Research study about the relationship between viral news searches and YouTube. Digital/virtual journalism is accessible worldwide and available in real time, as well as providing a dialogue platform for worldwide communication of views and opinions, and links to personal footage expanding on the event(s) and issue(s). Internet users are incorporating opinion into news sharing as well as journalism incorporating viewer activity, creating viral attention.

The Pew Center examined fifteen months' worth of the world's most popular news videos on YouTube (January 2011-March 2012). About 260 videos resulted by identifying and tracking the five most-viewed videos each week according to YouTube's 'News and Politics' channel. Pew analyzed the nature of the videos, the topics viewed most often, and the producers and posters of them.

The key findings to Pew's study were that the most popular videos were of natural disasters and political upheaval with intense visuals, entertaining ephemeral videos are more popular than information-based videos, citizens supply and produce the most footage, most viral videos contain both raw and edited footage and are fairly subjective, not containing individual personalities, and of course, that YouTube videos are briefer, generally lasting about two minutes in length, though YouTube video lengths vary greatly depending on the poster and topic.

In conclusion, people tend to search YouTube for videos covering current news due to its real-time updates and functionality. People tend to look for brief, concise news on the web, where we spend a lot of time during the day for both personal and work purposes (71% of Americans have used YouTube). Viewers also prefer platforms in which they determine their news agenda and content consumption without advertisements and biased information, as YouTube (though owned by Google) is not sponsored like some stations such as Fox. As to whether YouTube as a legitimate journalistic source, that is still unconfirmed due to lack of regulations, ethics, and copyright violations. YouTube is looking to a future with partnerships with Reuters and the like, which I am curious to see. This is the era of technology and it will only continue to progress with big players such as YouTube.

Link Found Between Child Prodigies & Autism

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Ohio State University's division of Psychology recently published study findings in its 'Research and Innovation Communications' and journal 'Intelligence', saying that child prodigies have the commonality of autism. The study was conducted by an associate Psychology professor at the University and a Yale student/neurological non-profit organization Founder.

Three of the eight studied had autism and half had a family member OR first- OR second-degree relative with an autism diagnosis, though it is not specified how many of those with an autistic relative also had autism or if it is another half IN ADDITION to the diagnosed three. The study also does not specify the severity of autism in each child.

One group of eight was controlled, the other of 174 adults randomly contacted by mail not. All "child prodigies" were chosen via internet, television specials, and referrals. The control group contained one art prodigy, one math prodigy, four musical prodigies, one music/gourmet cooking prodigy, and one music/art prodigy. Six were males and the remaining two were females. It appears as though "child prodigy" in this case is defined as "at least younger than 18 years, who is performing at the level of a highly trained adult in a very demanding field of endeavour" (Wikipedia) and had elevated intelligence scores on the Stanford-Binet Intelligence test.

Each child was individually tested by researchers over the course of two or three days. In addition to the Stanford-Binet, researchers administered the Autism-Spectrum Quotient assessment. All eight tested were categorized in the top 1 percentile of the working memory sub-test.

The problematic issues with this study are the amount of control over the "autistic" group versus the huge lack of control over the randomly selected and mailed uncontrolled group. The ages were also not given of those tested (though assumedly all under 18) nor for those over 18, varying from probably 18+ to 100! The two groups qualify it as a valid study, however the large variety of control (loose to too confined) and ungiven information lead to skepticism and unreliability. Depending on the study layout, environment (in-home mailed flyer vs. interview room), and number and presence of researcher(s) possibly influencing the child prodigy.

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The study still proves nothing more than its title; there are a few links between autism and child prodigous. They simply share similar traits at this point and cannot be considered proof until further and more extensive research is done and verified.

NYTimes: Vitamin D & Type 1 Diabetes via SpringerLink

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The above article was published by The New York Times recently about the correlation between low vitamin D levels and increase in risk of Type 1 diabetes. The aim was to prove the hypothesis that a deficiency of vitamin D results in Type 1 diabetes, specifically in the tested active-military personnel.

The study was not a random sample, as every participant was a military member and selected based on vitamin D levels, an assortment of low and high. Between 2002 and 2008, the 'nested case-control' study of 1000 subjects' blood samples were matched and analyzed. The following image explains and also verifies the reliability of the testing, as the serum reading dates were accurate across the board for all participants' samples (time-wise).

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The results support the researchers' hypotheses though it cannot prove causation of diabetes by vitamin D deficiency. The results are measured and presented in numbers representing value to the discovered phenomena, giving the [high and low] number relativity to one another (i.e. 17-23 nanograms vs. 40+).

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Cars influence voting?

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Totalcarscore.com did a survey via Facebook of 600+ people identifying themselves as Democrat/liberal or Republican/conservative asking what they drive. The respondents were allowed to select the type of car he/she drives. The following results were published were based on their identifying party and car selection then categorized into car type:

Primary findings show that 29% of Republicans/conservatives drive a pickup truck, 27% of Democrats/liberals drive compact cars. People in both parties agree they like SUVs and crossovers about equally with 20 percent for Republicans/conservatives vs. 18 percent for Democrats/liberals. Members of both parties dislike hybrid/alternative-fuel vehicles about the same. Hybrid/alternative-fuel vehicles came in last place for Democrats and second-to-last place for Republicans, just above the van/minivan segment. Still, with 6 percent market share among Democrats, the hybrid segment is more than twice as popular with them as it is with Republicans, who drive hybrids only 3 percent of the time.

Though this is just a summary of the article published on shopautoweek.com, the survey seems too simple (only 1 multiple choice question and the account member's 'Political View'). The independent variable is party affiliation and the dependent being car type. The survey does not reveal the ages of the respondents, the likelihood of actually going to the polls if he/she is indeed over 18, and excludes drivers without Facebook accounts. The selection could have been random, however it is not truly reliable as it is not an population but just a poll of a specific social media network's user. I do not know how the question was worded but the 'most members of both parties dislike parties' is a negative assumption, as they may not be disliked but rather not owned due to external factors such as cost, availability, practicality, size, etc.