Any Way You Want It

by Ben Perreira

Any way you want it,

that’s the way you need it,

any way you want it,

na-na-na-na-na. – Journey.

As I often tell my friends, if you believe in statistical facts, I have a Power Balance bracelet to sell you and a friend in Nigeria who would has an financial transactional offer you can’t refuse.

Statistics don’t lie, but people do. Case in point:

An article on Mashable.com reports that 44% of people will buy less online an the internet sales tax passes. Well, go ahead and stop the bill right now, you may say. Let’s look a little deeper at the details they offer in their snazzy infographic.

– 61% of people disagree with the bill (that is, they think it’s a bad idea)

– 40% disagree because they are sick of tax hikes

– 46% blame congress

– 60% of people think the bill is bad for the economy

It’s hard to analyze any set of data, and it is especially hard to analyze without having all of the raw data and questions in front of oneself, but the picture here is becoming clearer – people who don’t like tax hikes say they will shop less if this particular tax hike is enacted. You would likely see similar results for any other tax hike. In fact, just calling it a “hike” rather than an “increase” in the questionnaire introduces bias. Further, this study was sponsored by “the leader in e-commerce shipping technologies”. We can all agree taxes are inconvenient, but some find them more odious and have vested interests to stop them.

Will they people actually shop less online  if this bill passes? And by how much? Who knows. I suspect that many of these people didn’t know about the tax increase to begin with and will continue their normal online shopping patterns because online shopping is convenient for many reasons that overshadow having to pay sales tax, something we have to pay at any brick-and-mortar store.

Am I saying that a full 44% of respondents in this survey are lying? No. As it turns out, as hard as it is to get people to assess they think, it is even more difficult to get them to assess what they think they’re going to think or do in the future.

So to quote my distant cousin, Stephen Ray Pereira (you may know him as Steve Perry), any way you want it, that’s the way you need it. Statistics, that is. Statistics will tell you just about anything you want them to tell you should you so desire. Fighting bias from the beginning is the first step to getting closer to what people actually think.

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