Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Was the Question?

When I was an undergrad student I took a required course called “Statistics” that everyone I knew hated. I loved it! It was all about the numbers and how to gather and use them.
One of the amazing things I learned in that course was how to build, conduct and analyze proper polls. It also became crystal clear how polls can be missed used and corrupted. It is very easy to manipulate a poll to get the answer you want. There seems to be a lot of that going on in the political arena.
When some poll is published that says 55% approves or disapproves I know that only a sample of people have been asked a question, so not everyone has been contacted by the pollsters. So I have to asked was the sample random or did they sample only one group.
The question itself can be set up so that the desired answer is returned. The trick is in how the question is worded and in what context it is asked. Sometimes it also depends on who is asking the question. For example I received in the mail two polls about Health Care by the government. One came from AARP and the other from the Republican Party. AARP asked me if I support affordable Health Insurance for everyone. The Republican poll asked if I wanted the big government wasting tax payer money providing health insurance for people who didn’t want it.  It is all in how you ask the question.
I am always skeptical about claims of what the public approves or disapproves.Roll Eyes


  1. Statistics are like bikinis. What you see is interesting; what you don't see is crucial....

  2. I like what Bobby said! For my nursing degree, I had to take statistics and then I had to take nursing research. Of course, you had to have stats first. I just loved it too. Like you said, I am very skeptical about what gets published regarding approvals in the mainstream media, etc. In fact, I don't believe half of it!