Over at Adaptistration, its Take A Friend to the Orchestra Month (TAFTO). I am not writing this year, but I am participating in a sense. The orchestra will be performing in the theatre I run.
Drew prefaced today’s entry with a promise that it would wow readers with the concepts it was presenting. I have to say it certainly did for me. Bill Harris of Facilitated Systems creates a computer model to test if Drew’s TAFTO program is beneficial for orchestras in comparison with paid advertising.
Now since he is dealing with statistics and computer programs, it isn’t the easiest of reads. On my first read through I absorbed enough to realize it was providing enough valuable insights to read through again a couple hours later. If I understand correctly, one can copy the program he has written and use it in the simulator he suggests to produce results specific to ones organization.
I was intrigued by all this so I followed a link back to Bill’s blog and came across an entry on the Knight Foundation’s Magic of Music Final Report. Not two weeks ago I had cited a portion of the finding of this report to a group and now I see Mr. Harris telling people to be careful about the conclusions they drew from it.
He quote from page 32 of the report-
In trying to profile the factors that might predict a ticket buyer, one statistic stood out: 74 percent of them had played an instrument or sung in a chorus at some time in their lives.
What he says this appears to be saying is,”the probability of someone having played an instrument or sung in a group, given that they were a ticket purchaser, was 0.74.”
But what he says you really want to know is the probability that someone will buy a ticket “given that they played an instrument or sang in a group.” That may be what you assumed the report was saying because you hope that people who play instruments and sing (or perform in a play, paint, etc) will patronize your organization.
My assumption about the findings in the Knight report was that people who had music in their background might be inclined to attend later in life, but I didn’t see a cause and effect relationship. It merely seemed that people with a musical background shared were an affinity group within symphony attendees.
However, under the suspicion that inclination to attend wasn’t any different than cause and effect assumption, I posted a comment to Harris’ latest blog entry asking if I was making an erroneous assumption.
We shall see what he says. In the meantime, the lesson here is to read those statistics with a careful, critical eye.