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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Alexander Oslon: Fake is the biggest challenge for our work

“In America this happens on a much larger scale, because there is much more to our colleagues, much more crooks who pretend that they are doing measurements,” said in an interview with the newspaper LOOK President of the Foundation “Public opinion” Alexander Oslon, commenting on the examples of mistakes and deliberate deception in the work of sociologists from different countries.

Public opinion polls conducted in Russia since the early nineties, since then we have accumulated a unique experience. The country has several large agencies that regularly conduct public opinion polls. Thanks to those surveys, analysts can judge the political preferences of the Russians or their attitude to a particular social or cultural phenomenon. What are the challenges for Russian sociologists, why in recent years they are often blamed for incorrect predictions, the newspaper LOOK told the President of Fund “Public opinion” Alexander Oslon.

“The precision of sociology – a meaningless combination. Is the measurement done professionally or bad, is what ultimately is constructed either based on these measurements, or do without”

OPINION: Alexander, when Russia began to conduct surveys, as previously measured social mood? Whether the predicted revolutionary upheavals in Russia in 1917 and 1991?

Alexander Oslon: measurement Technology, which, as it may seem, was the eternal appeared in the late 30-ies in the United States and after the Second world war in Europe. In the USSR it was not, and the first steps in this direction was in the late 80-ies, and began to grow after 1992. Of course, this was a lot different reasoning, different analysts, the data, but what you call measurement surveys, which cover changes of social reality in Russia began to develop in the 90-ies.

LOOK: At the dawn of the development of sociology in Russia it was ideological control?

A. O.: When there was control, there are no measurements were not. And when the control began to disappear, they appeared. And in 90 years, no control was not! Nowhere and nothing!

OPINION: What are the main challenges facing contemporary sociology in a context of rapid technological development?

A. O.: the Word “sociology” means much more than “measurements”. Measurements are polls. To call them sociology is wrong. So all are called, but when you speak, you should know that it is wrong. This polls – and nothing more.

Surveys are needed precisely in order to make measurements. Similarly, forecasters and meteorologists make measurements of the state of the Earth’s atmosphere to measure temperature, pressure, winds, etc. On the basis of this is a big job. And then there are girls in mini-skirts that give weather forecasts.

Meteorology is a science about the structure of the atmosphere. Those who make measurements, deliver data, they don’t make predictions. Because forecasts are needed for supercomputers. That is we have measurements, then you can use them for forecasts, analyses, interpretations. This involved a variety of specialists – sociologists, political scientists, experts, scientists or impostors. An infinite number of people, including journalists, are doing what they digest our measurements. If this is run by qualified sociologists, this means that sociology, if journalists, it turns out journalism.

The biggest challenge is that almost nobody understands the difference between the measurements and the conclusion that measurements made one, and insights. And so when some jerk makes a ridiculous conclusions, just saying it’s a fiasco of sociology. In fact, measurements do some experts, and the conclusions of others, both professionals and laymen. The biggest challenge: how do we separate ourselves from those who make the conclusions. And to apply insights and predictions, and other inferences, which, in principle, can be done by anyone. The biggest challenge, and everything else – this is our kitchen, it is a problem of the industry, how it develops, how it is being improved. You do not ask physicists how they are improving their devices, and the weathermen, as they use their measurement methods.

OPINION: could you tell us about the precision of sociology in other countries? Why is the US sociologists are unable to predict the victory of trump?

A. O.: In the US, the newspaper journalists were doing wrong that caused the General opinion. There were many publications based on surveys, but the findings from the surveys did not sociologists, and publicists, journalists, analysts, participants of election campaigns, members of staff who were interested in making the necessary findings.

All this included not only surveys but a host of other data: social network activity, measure in media. All of these publications led to the conclusion that they are all either false or a false or incorrect. And since there were survey data, this finding was moved to the measurement. Although the measurements on how to carry out these surveys, was not mentioned.

The precision of sociology – a meaningless combination. Is the measurement done professionally or bad, is what ultimately is constructed either based on these measurements, or do without them! There is a person who works for a real candidate. He writes that his candidate wins. Then he has to somehow justify. Then he writes that there are polls that show that the candidate wins. While these surveys may not be, or they are, but they are made by his order, so that they confirmed this statement.

Are two different things. In principle, in order to refer to surveys, polls are not needed. Because it’s fake. Because of the fake, which occurs with reference to us, we find ourselves smeared with this fake. The biggest challenge for our work. Our job is to be measured. In America this happens on a much larger scale, because there is much more to our colleagues, much more crooks who pretend that they are doing measurements, and even more those who are doing the vast majority of fake insights with links to the survey. It is a trouble that cannot be corrected. This trouble will always be.

OPINION: IN 2013, after “social mishap” on elections of the mayor of Moscow wrote that the FOM will make the model predictions more open and interactive. How it was done?

A. A.: What I said, it’s done. On our website you downloaded the data, you can make predictions. But when it comes to having to deal with the forecast more deeply, nobody’s interested.


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