Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Fallacy of Polls

Somebody did a poll of some group of people, and Think Progress described the poll by saying that it “asked an incisive question.” I’ll give you the questions in a moment, but first the definition of “incisive.”

Incisive adj. Penetrating, clear, and sharp

And the questions: they ask which is worse for the American economy, “inherent unfairness in the economic system that favors the wealthy,” or “over-regulation of the free market.”

First of all, please tell me which of those two questions is “penetrating” or “clear,” let alone “sharp.” They are, in fact, both conclusions rather than conditions, both are extraordinarily vague, and the first one is so biased as to render to poll all but self-answering. What idiot would ever pick any answer that did not include the word “unfairness.”

To anyone who can get outside of ideology and actually think with the slightest trace of logic and intellect, this poll and its “conclusion” that “most Americans agree with progressives” make the Washington Post, and ABC News who conducted the poll, and Greg Sargent who drew that simple-minded conclusion, look like complete idiots. I’m actually amazed that the result was as disparate as it was.

But this is the way that political discussion is done in our nation today.

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