Statistical Assessment Service

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search

The Statistical Assessment Service, or STATS, as it is known, states that it is a disinterested, non-partisan guardian of scientific and statistical integrity. The STATS website states that ‘since its founding in 1994, the non-profit, non-partisan Statistical Assessment Service - STATS - has become a much-valued resource on the use and abuse of science and statistics in the media. Our goals are to correct scientific misinformation in the media and in public policy resulting from bad science, politics, or a simple lack of information or knowledge; and to act as a resource for journalists and policy makers on major scientific issues and controversies. In 2004, we became an affiliate of George Mason University in Virginia.’[1] However,as will be seen, STATS has continually tried to discredit findings which highlight the threat of climate change. The organisation states that it ‘monitors the media to expose the abuse of science and statistics before people are misled and public policy is distorted’.[2] However, the hypocrisy is that STATS employs the very same tactics that it finds so intolerable.[3]

Links with the Center for Media and Public Affairs and George Mason University

Although STATS states that it is an independent and non partisan organisation, it is a sister organization of the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA).[4] The CMPA has been linked to dubious funding, as the tobacco industry funded the organisation to monitor news stories which supported the dangers of tobacco.[5] STATS is also linked to the George Mason University which has recieved over $255,000 funding from ExxonMobil since 1998. [6]


Media Transparency identified STATS as having gained 34 grants totaling $1,925,000 (unadjusted for inflation) between 1995 and 2005 from conservative funders such as the John M. Olin Foundation, Sarah Scaife Foundation, William H. Donner Foundation, Richard Mellon Scaife's Carthage Foundation, Earhart Foundation, and the Castle Rock Foundation.[7] It is clear that STATS relies on funding from these conservative groups as in 1994 it received $75,000 from the John M. Olin Foundation and the same amount again in 1995 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation.[8] This occurrence of conservative funding, especially from sources which promote deregulation, highlight the corruption that is involved within this organisation. STATS has also received funding from ExxonMobil, a major producer of benzene which is one ingredient used in the manufacturing process of Bisphenol A (BPA) and maker of plastic food packaging film. STATS has been supporting claims of BPA safety and criticising media articles that express concern over BPA human exposure and wellbeing.[9]. Therefore, consumers researching BPA on the internet may find studies which pose as independent information are actually written by chemical industry public relations writers and these allegiances are not always explained. An example of this can be seen as Trevor Butterworth, Senior Fellow and editor of and linked to the BPA industry, has defended BPA greatly in his blogs and he regularly combs the internet for stories about BPA and offers comments. [10]


STATS stress that the media’s coverage of climate change continue to report far more on findings that confirm warming worries than research that doubts it. [11] STATS concludes that the danger in ignoring such studies is that “conventional wisdom” about global warming may develop amoung journalists which is flawed or myopic.[12]

The STATS president, Dr Robert Lichter released a study called ‘Cooking the Books on Global Warming? Or Overheating a Bad Survey?’ which commented on the study carried out by the Union of Concerned Scientists on the political interference with government climate scientists. The study showed that there was a high level of interference and widespread political pressure being put on climate experts to downplay the threat posed by global warming [13]. Lichter states that there were many shortcoming of the study as the response rate was low with only 17% of those asked responding to the study. The STATS president also argues that the “wording creates a statistical phenomenon that artificially inflates the impression of a hostile work environment. Consider an agency that contains 10 scientists. One tells the other nine that he has encountered interference. When they are surveyed, all ten report that they have "perceived in others and/or personally experienced" interference.” [14] .

In 2008, STATS released a study, entitled "Climate Scientists Agree on Warming, Disagree on Dangers, and Don’t Trust the Media’s Coverage of Climate Change" and was conducted in conjunction with Harris interactive.[15] This was largely in reaction to the findings of the Union of Concerned Scientist (UCS), who stated that the Bush administration engaged in 'wide-ranging political interference in research related to global warming'.[16] Dr. Francesca Grifo who is the Director of the UCS Scientific Integrity Program has stated that "Tailoring scientific fact for political purposes has become a problem across many federal science agencies."[17] The New York Times reported that 60 percent of the scientists "personally experienced" interference. ABC's Jake Tapper said, "scientists say their work on global warming has been watered down and twisted by the White House..." even though such hyperbole is not a conclusion warranted by the survey carried out by STATS.[18] STATS state that the conclusions drawn from the survey by the UCS have a great bias as those who took the time to return the questionaire were likely to be the individuals who feel the most upset about 'percieved' interference.[19]

A publication called 'It Ain't Necessarily So' by David Murray, Joel Schwartz and S.Robert Lichter stated that in the highly publicised studies relating to global warming, hunger, discriminating in lending and other environmental crises, the information being produced and transmitted 'ain't necessarily so' and that America is on the verge of an information meltdown where the public is overwhelmed.[20] It is stated that professors, activists and interest groups know that by conducting a study that has an aura of research and serious scholarship will ultimately lead to an influence on public opinion in their favour. [21] However, David Murray was the director of the Statistical Assessment Service and Lichter the president of the Center for Media and Public Affairs, and so they clearly have an agenda as they are both keen to deny manmade climate change due to the funding of their 'companies' by corporations such as ExxonMobile whom would suffer if mass opinion regarded climate change as a problem which must be solved through the control of companies such as ExxonMobil.


President- S. Robert Lichter. Has a Ph.D. in government from Harvard University and a B.A., summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota. He is also the Professor of Communication at George Mason University and President of the Center for Media and Public Affairs.

Executive Director- Donald Rieck. His expertise lies in strategic management and economic analysis. Previously, Rieck was a senior project manager at Comcast Corporation in Philadelphia for several years.

Director of Research- Rebecca Goldin.

Senior Fellow - Maia Szalavitz

Senior Fellow- Dr. Stephen Rose

Senior Fellow and Editor of Trevor Butterworth

Advisory Board include; Thomas C. Childers (Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania), Wolfgang Donsbach (President, World Association of Opinion Research), Nicholas Eberstadt (Fellow Center for Population Studies, Harvard University), Neil Gilbert (Professor of Social Welfare, University of California Berkeley), Scott O. Lilienfeld (Professor of Psychology Emory University), Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann (President, Allensbach Institut fur Demoskopie), Nelson Polsby (Director, Institute of Government Studies University of California Berkeley), Harrison Pope (Director, Biological Psychiatry Laboratory,Harvard Medical School), Stephen Strauss (Toronto Globe and Mail), Humphrey Taylor(CEO & President Louis Harris and Associates) and James Q. Wilson (Professor of Political Science). [22]


  1. STATS, Accessed 15/03/10
  2. STATS, Home page. Accessed 20/02/10
  3. D. Appell (2 July 2002) ‘It’s Ain’t Necessarily Spo’ in Salon. Com
  4. Meg Kissinger and Susanne Rust(30 August 2009) 'Plastics industry fights back with PR blitz' in Charleston Gazette. Accessed 23/02/10
  5. Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger. 'Watchdog advocates for BPA'. Accessed 19/02/10
  6.,'Factsheet: George Mason University'. Accessed 23/04/10
  7. Conservative Transparency. 'Statistical Assessment Service'. Accessed 21.02/10
  8. Louis Jacobson (10 Jan 1998)'Armed With STATS'in The National Journal
  9. James R. Hood.'Feds Launch New Study of BPA Safety, Industry Critics Blast Consumer Reports Study'. Accessed 20/02/10
  10. M. Kissinger (23 August 2009) ‘Chemical fallout, a journal sentinel watchdog report-BPA industry fights back’ in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
  11. Tom Harris (12 February 2002) 'The dogma of global warming, CO2 link with climate change is still uncertain' in The Hamilton Speculator, Canada.
  12. Tom Harris (12 Feb 2002) 'The dogma of global, CO2 link with climate change is still uncertain' in The Hamilton Speculator, Canada
  13. M. Felling (6 February 2007)'News of Survey, Finding Political Pressure on Climatologists Misleading' in Ascribe Newswire
  14. R. Lichter. (6 February 2007) Accessed 19/04/10
  15. STATS.'Climate Scientists Agree on Warming, Disagree on Dangers, and Don’t Trust the Media’s Coverage of Climate Change'. Accessed 21/02/10
  16. John Distaso (25 July 2007) 'Just how much hotter is it?' in The Union Leader
  17. Dennis Byrne.'Bad Research, Worse Reporting on Global Warming'. Accessed 20/02/10
  18. Dennis Byrne. 'Bad Research, Worse Reporting on Global Warming'. Accessed 20/02/10
  19. John Distaso (25 July 2007) 'Just how much hotter is it?' in The Union Leader
  20. Jim Wooten (12 February 2002) 'Groups shape studies to meet their agendas' in The Atlantic Journal Constitution.
  21. Jim Wooten (12 February, 2002) 'Groups shape studies to meet their agendas' in The Atlantic Journal Constitution.
  22. STATS Staff, [1]. Accessed 25 February 2010