Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Popular opinion is, opinion.

I took a moment to enjoy an old comedy series called “Yes, Prime Minister”. I swear this episode was taken right out of my mind.

Polls: do you consider them valuable? Well, you should, and you should not. For example, I used to implement quality assurance metrics for large organizations. I would create a measured format and ask questions pertinent to our business at the time. Through that process (well, and my knowing what I know about human psychology) I could essentially pinpoint and measure whatever it is the executive team would want to know about at any given time. I know polling works in a similar fashion; the problem is, not everyone conducting the polling is objective, and therefore results can be whatever it is they want them to be.

It’s an unfortunate sad reality that popular opinion polls are just that, opinion. Next time you hear that 60% of medical doctors approve stem cell research, be sure to know what group sponsored the poll, who exactly was the sample taken from, and in what context those questions were asked. At least the nyou might be informed, whether or not the participants were or not is another matter.

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