The Disappeared Answer

Does post-Brexit UK consumer confidence show the stupidity of the UK population, compared to the anti-Brexit intelligentsia?

I’ve become a total Quora addict! I have passionate, funny and, true to form, angry debates on there. It’s a platform that just works frankly. People can upvote and downvote answers, report questions and answers and even delete their own question but not lose the answer and commentary supplied by other.

One question appeared on the Brexit vote.

Image for post

So red rag to a bull, I answered. For some reason, the question itself was marked as insincere and eventually deleted (I wonder why) but the Deloitte report mentioned has seemingly gathered steam, even though there are some absolutely crucial weakness in its analysis, which isn’t representative but sold as if it is! So it’s worth documenting it here and explaining why

The Answer

No, it shows the stupidity of people who buy the stupidity of Marketing Analysts with no research or statistics knowledge. Sorry, it’s bee in bonnet time.

One prime example is the figure for unemployment. If you want to know why the figure for unemployment is so low, the answer is half way down here:

One Week On…

Zero hour contracts.

The reality is many people on zero hour contracts are barely earning their benefits. You’ll note this confounding variable isn’t anywhere to be seen in the Deloitte white paper.

Secondly, you’ll note the methodology box at the end. The Net balance of consumer optimism. What is that measure? The way percentages are used in this is atrocious! For example, if 90% of people don’t think anything has changed, 2% think it got worse and 8% think it got better, that’s a 6% “confident” population. However, most people actually thoughts [sic] things are about the same. Alternatively, if there are 2% in the middle, 46% think it got worse, 52% think it got better, that’s also a 6% “confident” population. However, most people think it’s got better in that example. That measure they use is complete and utter rubbish! It’s totally meaningless.

Thirdly, if you look at Q3 job security confidence every year. You see two things. Q3 at this time every year has the same sort of positive “trough” relative to every other year (2015, 2014 etc.) so the peaking we are seeing is not unusual for that time of year, yet we have been sold it in the paper as if it is. The other thing to note is the trends match all the way through the paper. The graph general trend is almost the same in every one. This is both a good and bad thing, the latter because there appears to be a high correlation between the signals but more worryingly/interestingly in the shapes of the graphs we see, as they are all the same. This suggests there is a single underlying variable in there somewhere that they have or have not captured.

The only thing this shows me is evidence of people who don’t know anything about statistics, doing statistics. These are the “experts” Brexiteers really need to worry about as they are selling no information as if it’s genuinely valuable stuff. It isn’t! Even the UK government wised up to the shenanigans of consulting firms like Deloitte. It’s told us next to nothing and was done in such a short period of time (3 days) that it can’t represent the whole quarter.

The original answer first appeared on Quora, 17th October 2016. You can find the original Deloitte paper here.

Written by

EA, Stats, Math & Code into a fizz of a biz or two. Founder: Automedi & Axelisys. Proud Manc. Citizen of the World. I’ve been busy

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