Wall Street Journal on counting gay folks
Here’s an article by Carl Biliak at the Wall Street Journal on counting Gay people – and basically concluding what I did – it’s mush numbers. There’s even another article Biliak did on the day before. It’s too easy a target. Why, even Gary Gates himself, late of counting us he thinks, says it’s mush. And when you say your own study is mush, well, mush it must be. Though he didn’t quite put it like that. Gates, when questioned about the various studies used and their flaws said, as the WSJ put it – “Dr. Gates says without more information about the validity of each survey, averaging the results is the best compromise. ‘You can make an argument they’re all credible,’ he says.”
And well, no, no I can’t make the argument all the flawed studies are credible. For they not.
I’m neither a professor, doctor or stay at a Holiday Inn last night – But I did email the writer of the story and suggest stop trying to count us by a phone survey and go out to where we are and go “one, two, three…” and see how many you get. Start at the 2500 gay clubs in this country. See how many are out on a Friday and Saturday night – that should be a good starting point.
>>One of the most prominent social scientists in this field sought to produce a fresh estimate of the gay population recently, with what he and other researchers say are inconclusive results. In findings published last week, Gary Gates, a demographer and distinguished scholar at the Williams Institute of the University of California, Los Angeles, concluded that roughly 3.5% of Americans tell pollsters they identify themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual. [he didn’t “roughly” anything – he said in a chart there’s exactly 2,491,034 of us.]
To arrive at that figure, Dr. Gates simply averaged the results from five earlier surveys conducted over the past decade. By examining two additional surveys, Dr. Gates determined that an additional 0.3% identify themselves as transgender. That adds up to nearly nine million U.S. adults who identify as LGBT.
Other demographers say the 3.5% figure seems much more plausible than the discredited Kinsey number. But they say the data available are too scant to draw definitive conclusions. [That is, we know nothing of the thing, nothing.]
One problem they cited with Dr. Gates’s findings is that they combine results from surveys with different sample sizes and interview formats. The California Health Interview Survey canvassed about 50,000 Californians in 2009 by phone, finding that 3.2% identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. In contrast, roughly 5,900 people took Indiana University’s online National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior in 2009, and nearly twice as many— 5.6%—identified themselves that way.
“I think there are a lot of problems with every one of those data sets,” says Randall Sell, associate professor at Drexel University’s school of public health. (see http://www.gaydata.org) A concern, he says, is that people are more likely to reveal their sexual identity via computer than by phone or in person.
Dr. Gates says without more information about the validity of each survey, averaging the results is the best compromise. “You can make an argument they’re all credible,” he says.
There’s more at the article, and another article he did a day or two earlier.
And when the Wall Street Journal agrees with me that there’s something fishy about the numbers – all of ’em – well, then I must be on to something.
And we all better come up with a number – for if Rick Santorum, Byran Fischer and Peter Sprigg among others want to arrest us all we’ll need to know how many prison beds we’ll need. For we are a contentious issue and no one knows much about us, except of course, “you can make the argument they’re all credible.” Ahem.
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