In case you missed it yesterday (between Blue Meanie's posts and mine, things move down the page pretty fast), I wrote about the possibility that the survey Matthew Ladner based three public/private school comparisons on was totally fabricated by Strategic Vision LLC, the company paid to do the survey.
Suspicions about the integrity of Strategic Vision can be found on lots of sites -- the end of yesterday's post has a long list of links. Among other problems, the addresses listed as the firm's offices around the country are UPS stores. They have since been removed from the company's website. Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight found all kinds of statistical evidence leading him to the conclusion that the company very possibly makes up plausible data rather than gathering it by actually conducting surveys. (The problems weren't only in the survey done for G.I., by the way. Silver found similar evidence in the company's political polling.) And the American Association for Public Opinion Research wrote a press release stating that Strategic Vision "repeatedly refused to release essential facts about polls it published prior to the 2008 presidential primaries in New Hampshire and Wisconsin."
A commenter on one of Nate Silver's posts said the company is no longer in business, but I don't know if that's true.
Matthew Ladner has promised he would investigate the allegations that he was chumped by Strategic Vision. At this time, the jury is still out, though it looks to me like the company is guilty and G.I. bought a bill of goods. If so, I hope Ladner will stick to the pledge G.I. makes on its website:
The Goldwater Institute is committed to accurate research. The Institute guarantees that all original factual data are true and correct to the best of our knowledge and that information attributed to other sources is accurately represented. If the accuracy of any material fact or reference to an independent source is questioned and brought to the Institute’s attention with supporting evidence, the Institute will respond in writing. If an error exists, it will be noted on the Goldwater Institute website and in all subsequent distribution of the publication.
I'm sure G.I.'s distribution list for its press releases and daily emails is pretty deep, which means a lot of people will have a chance to see the admission of error if it's called for. I think a more personal heads up to media outlets that wrote about the results would be in order so they will realize they should print an article retracting the previous story.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. All this remains to be seen.