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Category Archives: Politics
Polls and Surveys
This is late, and no one reads this blog, but on the off-chance someone does — don’t listen to the polls. They don’t know what’s going to happen. That’s the TLDR, click for why.
The first thing you should know about Polls and Surveys is that every result ONLY REFLECTS THE OPINIONS OF THE KINDS OF PEOPLE WHO ANSWER POLLS AND SURVEYS.
I put that in caps because it is important. In a social media age, we like to think that since we throw our opinions into the ether, they are reflected in polls. But no. Polls can only claim accuracy over the people they actually talk to. And if you didn’t answer the phone when someone you didn’t recognize called or if you didn’t talk to the person with the clipboard, your opinion was not counted.
Now. Think about the kind of person who actually decides they can take the time to AND ALSO WANTS TO talk to a pollster. To answer a series of dry questions that the person asking can’t explain. THEY CAN’T EXPLAIN what the question means.
Leading to the second problem with polls. An d I should say here that most of my thoughts here were learned from Charles Seife’s Proofiness, if you want to read about all the other ways math is manipulated to make things seem true.
Second problem — if a question in a survey/poll is in anyway not clear, you will get bad answers. There are literal classes about how to ask survey questions because how do *you* interpret the word “could” or “would” or “can”? Yes, there are some questions that are clear. “Are Republicans a danger to Democracy in the US?” Clearly a YES or no answer. But since polls and surveys are mostly looking for opinions, there will be problems with answers.
And I’m not a statistics person, but that Margin of Error of 3% is bullshit. And it’s a bigger problem the fewer people you include in your poll/survey. Most poll takers keep going until they can say the MoE is 3% or under, but that means they stop asking in most cases.
Again, TL/DR — almost never trust polls.
It’s taken me a week to get to the point where I can write this.
State of the Union 01
So, I encountered this in my relatively new Twitter feed:
Ted Cruz Admits He is Guilty of Assault/Battery
In my house, if my daughter Catherine, the 5-year-old, says something she knows to be false, she gets a spanking
Alright, maybe it’s actually Battery rather than Assault, depends on the statutes in your area.
Two Different USAs
I was just reading this article on AlterNet about the differences between the Republican and Democratic debates, and this part jumped out at me (below the fold):
Economics and Budgets
I am not an economist. I was a software engineer who decided to become a stay-at-home dad/Household Manager. I had no course on Econ while in college. I had a high school understanding of supply and demand. A few months ago, I picked up “An Idiot’s Guide to Economics”.
What Were They Thinking?
This is probably going to be part one of many, and this one will be rather short because it is just so totally incomprehensible to me.
A district in Colorado just elected a state representative who has diagnosed, at a distance, that some people have been possessed by demons. A man who believes not only that demons exist but that they possess people and that you can tell those people are possessed from halfway across the country was elected to represent a section of people in the state of Colorado. He is also a virulently anti-gay bigot.
Now, what in the world do they think this guy is going to do for them within their state? Outlaw homosexuality? Enact laws against demonic possession?
Seriously, what the fuck were these people thinking?
I found this quote when looking up the history of public education in the United States:
“The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves.”