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Thursday, 5 April, 2007

It’s that time of decade in which polling really warms up. Oh, you think it’s bad now, just wait a few months.

Something strikes me about telephone polling in this era. You may remember something about how Roosevelt was supposed to get hammered by whats-his-name back in ’32 or ’36 due to the results of a telephone poll conducted by Why Don’t They Just Ask Their Parents for Money? magazine. This was taken as the acceptable-to-American-high-schools example of poor polling practice. Indeed, this was the width and breadth of the discussion of statistics as science in my pre-collegiate experience. Then we did the two-month unit about how Oswald acted alone, ending each class with four minutes of chanting “Communism is bad”.

Presumably, the telephone-poll business is somewhat more refined today. Well, not today , since today the telephone polls are answered by people with baby-bell, land-line phones who are listed in Directory Assistance (and “the book”) who have not yet learned the innate pointlessness of answering the phone when they don’t recognize the calling party. Yes, I’m assuming “caller ID” is ubiquitous because for all points and purposes it is.

Those are the people being polled. I can only imagine what Alfred’s poll numbers would be like if they were talking to people who had somewhat more than watched other technologies on the television.

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