Lies, damned lies, and statistics

A lot of the political arguing going on in the arguments here lately have taken a rather odd twist. more and more people (mainly detractors) have been citing opinion polls, surveys, and the like as “evidence” to bolster their arguments.

Let me clue everyone in to something I believe I’ve hinted at, but never actually said explicitly:

I don’t give a rat’s ass about such things.

I don’t think I’ve ever cited, discussed, or praised a single survey in making my arguments and concocting my essays. And that’s been a deliberate choice.

(This is where someone finds a single example I have forgotten.)

I have two reasons that have compelled me to this position.

1) Polls are notoriously unreliable. There are literally thousands of examples of polls that turn out to be completely wrong. Dewey did NOT defeat Truman. “Exit polls” at elections are almost never right. In politics, it’s a cliche’, but it’s a cliche’ because it’s true: there is exactly one poll that matters, and that’s the one done in the booths on election day. All the rest are irrelevant.

2) Polls do not reflect whether something is right or wrong, correct or incorrect, only what people THINK is so. I do not base my opinions on what anyone or everyone else thinks; they are uniquely my own, derived from my own thoughts, observations, beliefs, and prejudices. I do not present what I think is the consensus of the general populace, but what I think is true, correct, or right.

A few centuries ago, it was overwhelming public opinion that the earth was flat. Prior to World War II, many people thought that Hitler wasn’t that bad, that he could be lived with — or, in some horrid cases, was right.

As Opus the Penguin observed about 20 years ago, “if ten thousand people do a silly thing, it is still a silly thing.”

Have we entered the twilight zone?
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