Friday, September 22, 2006

Correlatus belli

In today's column, Polly Toynbee writes:

If the Iraq analogy seems over the top, consider this: Ipsos Mori finds that attitudes towards the NHS are coloured by what voters already think of the government - not the other way round, as previously assumed. Disenchantment with the government translates into scepticism about the NHS. So all the reasons why Labour is slipping in support - Iraq and its aura being a root cause - bleed back into views on the NHS. [emphasis added]

If you're interested in reading the actual research as opposed to someone who is "eager to abuse it for their own biased ideological purposes" like Polly (source), have a look at the original research (pdf link here). On page 7, it says:

Support for the Government seems to be tied to the public's perception of the NHS so that disenchantment with the Government translates into scepticism about the NHS and vice versa. A range of opinion polling suggests that confidence in the Government’s conduct of public service reform and management of public services is currently not high and has declined markedly over the last few years. Negative views of the Government’s approach to other issues including criminal justice, asylum, Iraq and a number of other areas may also have had had an impact. [emphasis added]

So actually, the report shows correlation not causation -- it does not show that attitudes towards the NHS are coloured by what voters already think of the government, merely that people who are less satisfied with the NHS are also likely to be less satisfied with the government.

More to come during the day...

2 comments:

richie rich said...

You claim the reseach shows correlation not causation. But it states

"Support for the Government seems to be tied to the public's perception of the NHS so that disenchantment with the Government translates into scepticism about the NHS and vice versa."

Arguably, translates into suggests more than correlation.

FactcheckingPollyanna said...

And the "vice versa" shows that they actually don't know which way round the causation flows.

It certainly does not show what Polly claims -- the it is "not the other way round". She is misrepresenting the research.