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Creative Counting

About the author

A freelance writer and editor based in London, J Clive Matthews is Managing Editor of openDemocracy's EU and deliberative democracy blog, dLiberation.

In the real world he has co-authored two books and edited numerous others (ranging in subject-matter from movies to modern Russian politics), been acting editor on a glossy history and travel magazine, editorial consultant for a big name women's magazine, a freelance news editor for AOL UK, worked in both the House of Commons and the European Commission, and contributed to publications as diverse as Starburst and the Times Literary Supplement.

Best known as Nosemonkey online, he has been blogging about British and European politics daily for several years both at his own blog and sites like The Sharpener, General Election 2005 (now defunct), AgoraVox, France 24 and the Washington Post / Newsweek's Postglobal, as well as about movies for the BBC, and has been shortlisted for blog awards by the likes of the Guardian, Deutsche Welle International and the Weblog Awards, amongst others.

Do you have number crunching skills we can call on? Right here is a spreadsheet with what demographic data is available for the Tomorrow's Europe Deliberative Poll. You can login as readers (, password: readers . You can also download the Excel version from here.

Some of our questions:

  • what are the entire EU proportions for these demographics?
  • what is the confidence level that the organisers have used to determine confidence?
  • are there any borderline cases?
  • why have these demographic categories been chosen for control?
  • how badly under-representative is the nationality sample?
  • can we draw any inferences about the impact of nationality on belief given the sample size?
  • what can we say, overal, about the degree of representativeness of the sample?
  • what factors would you have controlled for if you had been designing the experiment?

Professor Fishkin, one of the masterminds of the deliberative polling method, has set out three criteria by which to judge the success of the Tomorrow's Europe deliberative poll. The first, and arguably most important of these is "Is it representative?"

Much of this will naturally come down to opinion, so in an utterly unscientific test, let me know what you think. Check out the spreadsheets, play with the numbers, and let me know the results of your findings via james.clivematthews [at] - assistance from statisticians especially welcome!

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