Monday, 23 November 2009

Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics

A few weeks ago I ran a survey examining political beliefs, CAMRA and the tie system.

Unfortunately I’ve been delayed in analysing it as I’ve Excel hasn’t been working on my iMac since I installed the “Snow Leopard” OS. That’s’ fixed now, thanks for all the help Mr Gates. Not. GoogleDocs was excellent for the data gathering but clumsy for playing around with it.

I’m not sure what the survey was intended to illustrate. Vaguely, I hoped it would illustrate my critique of CAMRA.

Here’s a quick synopsis of my view of CAMRA:

CAMRA’s perspective on the beer market is essentially a Marxist construct. For cask ale beers/brewers/consumers read “exploited proletariat”: for mass-produced beer and its brewers read “capitalist business oligarchy, cynical exploiters of the proletariat”.  Most CAMRA’s activities and outpourings seem based on this model ­– its organisation mimics trade unions and its favoured vernacular including “threats”, “protests”, “boycotts” and “campaigns” apes the language of political activism. A key motivator is the fantasy that, one day, campaigning and activism will overthrow the capitalistic mass-produced beers and re-install proletarian cask ale to its rightful dominance. And this model, or modus operandi, has failed the cause it holds dearest.

Here, I’m tempted to digress deeply into what I consider to be a more reasoned vision of the beer market, cask ale's position in  it and what CAMRA ought to be. But I won’t, so let’s have a look at some survey results instead. Again I emphasize I don’t consider this survey to be in any way scientifically or statistically sound, so do go levelling that accusation at me. All it is is a talking point.

It occurred to me that analysing the stats of those giving CAMRA a high score to those giving CAMRA a low score might be quite illuminating. Of the 79 complete surveys, looking at the “Please indicate your view of CAMRA” field, I’ve compared the top 15 results with bottom 15.

Anyone who is particularly clued up on stats, significance etc is welcome to a copy of the Excel file to have a play with – you can download it here.

1. Here we see that those who gave CAMRA high ratings tend to be slightly more left-wing, and slightly less liberal than thise who gave CAMRA low ratings. There was also a difference in fondness for the tie system.

2. CAMRA high raters tend to be older than CAMRA low-raters.

3. Those giving CAMRA a high rating are more likely to be CAMRA members.

4. High raters are more active CAMRA members.

5.  Low-raters are more likely to be professionally involved in the brewing or selling of beer. What could be going on here? Does professional involvement in beer inoculate the individual against CAMRA? Do beery professionals see enough of beer at work to bee bothered with amateur beer activism?

1 comment:

Woolpack Dave said...

I think it is interesting how when you get people from the trade together, out of earshot of possibly offended CAMRA people, there is often a little bit of grumbling.

However, beer lovers are often heard complaining about this beer or that pub or some other thing that don't like about the trade, so I suppose it's all fair really.