The “Hard Data” Challenge

Some time ago a writer on’s professional site, one for whom I have the greatest respect, played down the University of Michigan’s consumer confidence survey because it was "soft data."

I wrote to him asking what he meant by "soft data."  He wrote back the following:

"Hard data points are quantifiable. Soft data points are not and tend to be

So here is the challenge:  Of the many data reports we see, which are dependent upon surveys and which are not?  For those that are surveys, what value do they have?

For the moment, we’ll ignore the fact that the OldProf did his graduate work at Michigan, including some time at the Institute for Social Research, located in the big building on Thompson Street where the best survey research has been done for over forty years.  More on this later….

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