Jul 292014
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Polls are everywhere these days.

Everywhere you look there are polls telling you what other people think and suggesting that you do likewise. They always look so trustworthy and reliable. But how good are they really and why should I care what they say? What am I? A lemming!

I’ve always been suspicious of poll numbers. It’s not that I don’t understand how numbers work. I’ve studied sampling and statistics and I believe that the theories pan out, so long as they really do what they are supposed to. But how can you really know?

What I’m suspicious of is who the polling companies actually call and whether the people they finally talk to bear any resemblance to the general population. There are many ways to cook the books and steer the conclusions your way by manipulating the sample. But even if the polling company is honest and unbiased, I still was uncomfortable with polls. What really gave me pause was that with all the polls being conducted over my lifetime, never did one of them call me.

Sure the sample numbers are small and it’s a big country we live in but not only have I never received a call from a pollster, I don’t know anybody who ever received a call from a pollster. Despite seeing representatives of polling organization on TV from time to time, I have no evidence that proves to my satisfaction that polls are real. For all I know they may be just as phony as the moon landing. From my perspective it is just as likely that polls are nothing but an elaborate hoax on the general public, intended not to inform but to manipulate behavior.

I think its a scam!

I can’t help wondering if polls are nothing more than a subversive scam on the general public. Behind the facade of statistical theory and polling questions is there nothing more complicated than hard core marketing designed to manipulate the minds and hearts of the unsuspecting public. Inquiring minds want to know.

After all, who can really know for sure that 37% of right handed voters in southern North Carolina really prefer candidate X? And what happens if 15% of those right handed voters in southern North Carolina lie? Supposedly from statistical theory this all washes out so long as you ask enough people but I still wonder how rigorously the machinery works in the back room- or if it is working at all. Who would know?

I used to be more tolerant.

In my youth, I was more respectful about our institutions. They were good enough for my parents generation, surely they would be good enough for mine. Something happens when you get old, however. I find myself more suspicious and less charitable. Part of it may be that I am now older than the people running these institutions. I can no longer make the excuse that they have more life experience or even wisdom. I flat our don’t trust those young whippersnappers. It’s pretty clear that they don”t have any mysterious wisdom and maturity.  And nothing suggests that they have my well-being in mind.

So I’m just not willing to grant any respect to polling numbers anymore. I don’t believe them. I don’t trust the integrity of the people running them and I absolutely and categorically hate the organizations that hire the pollsters to create lies, confusion and misdirection for the voters. So much for credibility.

There are liars, damned liars and statisticians but worst of all there are pollsters.

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Ralph is the inspiration for Cantankerous Old Coots and is our Grand Duke of Cantankerousness

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  6 Responses to “Down with Polls and the lying Pollsters who make them!”

  1. About two years ago I received a call from a poll … actually Quinnipiac (sp?) … and knowing that their name and reputation (in terms of making the news), I was excited and took the time … but I hate the similar nature of many of the questions to answer with strongly agree, moderately agree, slightly agree, somewhat agree, occasionally agree, might agree if, and the same on the disagree side.

    However, I can honestly say that I try not to be influenced by them, but with their continual onslaught, how can one not be.

  2. I actually got paid ten bucks to fill out a survey. now I’m only in it for the money, and the highest bidder gets my opinions.

  3. Frank,
    Thank you. At last I finally know someone who was called by a national poll. I feel so much better. I know what you mean about trying to ignore them. It’s like subliminal imaging or maybe water torture.

  4. Hansi,
    Is that the highest bid you ever got for your opinion? It beats mine. Still I have to point out that readers of your blog get your opinion for nothing. Such a deal!

  5. That’s true that my readers get my opinion for nothing, and nothing is what they get in return 🙂

  6. Hansi,
    You are too modest.

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