Harvard Researcher Publishes Flawed Study, Congratulates Himself

Sigh. This article is proof that even at a so-called “top university,” foolishness and anti-Russianness reigns. From Voice of America, we have an article called Harvard Study Shows Russian-speaking Ukrainians Backing Kyiv.

A new study conducted at Harvard University suggests that Russian-speaking Ukrainians may be significantly more supportive of Kyiv’s standoff against Moscow and the pro-Russian separatists than has previously been reported.

The study, authored by researcher Bruce Etling at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, is one of the first serious explorations of Russian-, Ukrainian- and English-language social media content regarding the turmoil there over the last 11 months.

“Our general reading of newspapers and traditional media about the protests was that Russian speakers tended to disapprove [of the protests] and Ukrainian and English speakers tended to approve, and that would then just bleed into social media,” Etling said. “We wanted to see if that was what really happened.”

This study is flawed from the start. The research has failed to consider one important point: the sorts of people who use social media, who write blogs, who go on the internet a lot, are young people. These young people are a lot more likely to hold liberal, pro-European views (and therefore support the current government in Kiev), no matter what language they speak, than other age groups in Ukraine. Coupled with the fact that there isn’t consistent electricity (and therefore limited internet and social media access) in some parts of Eastern Ukraine that are pro-Russia and you can see that we are not getting a decent cross-section of the population. It’s certainly not statistically valid and doesn’t allow us to draw meaningful conclusions.

It’s sad that this sort of shoddy research actually passes for scholarship.

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Natalie K.

Banker. I like good things like foreign languages (I speak Russian!), history, writing, reading, playing violin, and knitting. I have a fabulous blog about all of the above.