2 posts • joined 23 Aug 2007
What is email - skewed definitions skew results?
There is a world of difference between "email" and "web based email", with the greater number of people that I know using "real" email - a client and a mail server - rather than a web version.
Design of a study is paramount in getting meaningful results. This looks like a case of taking a metric because it is "easy to measure" rather than trying to capture the full spectrum of online activity.
Useful definitions are crucial. The amount of time spent writing and reading email is hard to measure because the client typically connect to the server only to check for or transmit mail. Thus,.in my case, there is a connection for a few milliseconds every ten minutes, interspersed with email uploads and downloads. I, however, am continuously engaged in reading and writing.
If you are trying to measure user involvement in an online process, I am continuously engaged, though it is not as easy to measure as time spent on a web site.
A more useful comparative measure might be the number of words posted on blogs and on web sites, compared to the number of words emailed. That, however, would emphasize sending over receiving. Counting messages is only relevant if the approximate message size is similar.
And someone clicking on a web page does not actually mean that they read anything... being "logged in" to a web site is equally meaningless. I am often "logged in" to a social site, but the window is buried on my desk top for several hours. Does that mean I get credited with several hours of social networking, rather than the 10 minutes it actually took?
These "high level" reports without methodology, design, and anything but statistical reductions of data are too often meaningless or misleading. Without the survey design, sampling scheme, questions, statistical criteria and analytical methods, and survey methodology there is really no way to judge whether anything in the report is valid.
Bad science, bad reasoning
The classic observation is that correlation does not imply causality. We've seen that error over and over... and these 'after event' statistical trolling expeditions do occasionally dredge up the results of some unidentified confounding variable,
But perhaps there is a causal link.
If I were speculating, I would guess that it might be caused by biochemical changes in the mother's blood chemistry caused by anxiety and prolonged stress caused by fears of radiation.
After all, there is this HUGE irrational fear of even small levels of ionizing radiation, and only a tiny fraction of the population is even marginally equipped to realistically evaluate the danger. And news media are not known for down-playing anything that can raise the level of interest and involvement with their product.
So, for what it's worth, IF there is a causal link, I'd put two cents on fear mongering as the mediating factor.