What do the polls say?

Before I get to the topic at hand, I want to mention that Greek is very difficult. Specifically Koine Greek or Biblical Greek. I am assuming that many of the forms of Greek are hard, but this is the one I am learning so it is all I can speak of. Koine is a form of Attic Greek (that itself was a branch of Ionic, one of the forms of Classic Greek). Kione is the “common” form of Greek that was spoken by the common man as it was a simplified form of classical and therefore doesn’t have some of the subtleties of its more polished predecessor. I seven weeks we have covered all the noun forms and over 66% of the words in the Bible (of course part of this is because words like “and” and “the” are used quite a bit – did you know that in Greek the definite article “the” has 24 different forms?). Anyway, it is a tough language, but I am really excited about learning it. That was quite the digressions, so if you feel like you will never have those two minutes back, I am sorry.

On to the topic at hand. Polls. What do the polls say? My answer: who cares? I have many problems with polls. As far as polling goes I think that election polls are probably the most accurate and by that, I still mean not very accurate. Depending on who you talk to the presidential polls will say different things. I have seen numerous maps that show what the polls are telling us… Bush is going to win! No wait, Kerry is going to win! No wait…







Got the idea? And these are just a few of the maps you can find doing a google search. What does this mean? It means that polls are completely useless. I like I said, election polling are the most accurate form of polls we have. Who do you want to win? A? B? or maybe C? Pretty cut and dry, and yet we have no consistency with the electoral college maps, predictions based on current polls and past trends just do not work. WHY BOTHER? There really is no reason to continue with this as it just makes people either feel good about themselves or feel bad and have something to complain about (yes ironic that I am complaining).

Other types of polls are even worse. Questions are often asked completely out of context and often about subjects that people don’t understand or even know about. How is that data to be explained? Even “yes” or “no” questions will not give great answers depending on how the question is asked. I always think of the “poll” – Dihydrogen oxide is a number one leading cause of death throughout the world and yet our country spends loads of money to work with this deadly chemical. Do you think this chemical should be banned?” What do you think folks?

I am reading a book by Neil Postman (that I will post a review of later) and I am reminded of some of his comments in another of his social commentaries: Technopoly. I will start with an example he poses: “Two priests who, being unsure if it was permissible to smoke and pray at the same time, wrote to the Pope for a definite answer. One priest phrased the question “Is it permissible to smoke while praying?(126)” and was told it is no, since prayer should be the focus of one’s whole attention; the other priest asked if it is permissible to pray while smoking and was told that it is, since it is always appropriate to pray.” Questions asked are of huge importance. Getting back to the specifics of polls I draw, again, on Postman’s Technopoly. Making up an example he suggests: “The latest poll indicates that 72% of the American public believes we should withdraw economic aid from Nicaragua. Of those who expressed this opinion 28% thought Nicaragua was in central Asia, 18% thought it was an island near New Zealand, and 27.4% believed that ‘Africans should help themselves,’ obviously confusing Nicaragua with Nigeria. Moreover, of those polled, 61.8% did not know that we give economic aid to Nicaragua, and 23% did not know what ‘economic aid’ means.(135)” Eventhough this is a fictitious example, you can see how it can cause problems in real world situations. The chances are, the only thing that gets reported is that 72% of Americans thing economic aid should be withdrawn. This is reasonable to assume because the other questions are genearlly not even asked.

The other issue with polls, which has already been hinted at, is that that the public is given the chance to speak and give opinions about things they know very little about. I believe people should continue learning and always seek to know more and if you have knowledge about something, please feel free to comment on it, if not, you should sit back and listen and learn but just keep quiet. This also makes me think of celebrities who know very little but have much exposure say anything about everything and people actually listen to what they have to say. The problem with this is that when people,celebrities or not, spout off about that which they don’t know it creates a problem in that it is hard to listen to anyone. If I hear 30 people, who don’t know what they are talking about go off on something it is going to be very difficult for me to listen to that 31st person, even if they really do know what they are talking about. (I have way too many run-on sentences, sorry)

This has been somewhat fragmented, but here are my concluding thoughts: Don’t listen to polls. Go and try and make a difference in things if you can and to do that you will have to become educated about things. I am glad when people in authority don’t necessarily follow polls or public opinion. Do what is right, learn about something before you comment on it. Political polls can show anything you want them to, just ask the right questions. Go vote on the 2nd, don’t pay attention to the maps.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

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