Dave Freer’s argument does not show what he thinks it shows. The flaws in the argument are:
- His description of a left wing category of authors is probably faulty as it relies on key issues that enjoy more popular support in the US public than some conservatives realize.
- Consequently his estimate of 15%, while accurate for genuinely “solid liberal” people, is too low when considering Hugo eligible authors. The likelihoods he needed to model may have an upper range beyond 50%.
- The model he uses in his analogy has some flaws but is not unreasonable and the flaws don’t severely undermine his argument
- Using his model an expected proportion of 45% for what he calls “red” nominees would produce results that are not highly improbable and which match his analysis of past Hugo nominees for best novel.
- His choice of years to analyze may be distorted by avoiding 2004 and by including WorldCon years held in countries other than the US, but his analysis would still hold if his assumption of 15% for reds was correct.
- There is some plausible evidence of statistical bias against very conservative authors but overall the evidence of bias is slim
- Dave’s argument even if it was sound does not address multiple sources of bias – some of which may be beyond WorldCon (or Puppy) influence
In truth there is no good reason why we should expect the Hugo awards to reflect the political spectrum of the USA. Neither authors, reader or fans are a random sample of the US population. Ideology in the United States has geographic, socioeconomic, ethnic and cultural dimensions. While none of those are deterministic, there is no reason to assume that group defined by common cultural interests would coincidentally be a decent random sample of the US population when it comes to ideology.
The shortest, simplest objection to Dave’s argument is this: any person knowledgeable about statistics would not use science-fiction/fantasy readers as a way of generating a representative cross-section of US politics. Yet the core premise of his argument relies on that being the case – otherwise in what sense is their a discrepancy?
Worse yet the 2015 Year of the Puppy has revealed a very narrow set of nominees, with conservative works being represented by a small number of authors.