Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fighting the Hype

Great post by John Sides today over at the Monkey Cage about Gallup hyping results which are probably just random variation or the results of sloppy questions. Here's how he concludes:
The problem is that the Gallup question’s ambiguity admits of too many interpretations. No single survey question, or any combination of questions, is going to provide a bulletproof depiction of public opinion, but surely we can do better. Gallup is up to the task at other times — e.g., in this comparison of multiple surveys on health care, each of which uses somewhat different questions. They should do more of this, which is a much more satisfying meal than bowls of mush about “traditional values.”
Alas, one of the most difficult things for political scientists do to as public commentators is to convince people that something isn't important. But I also think it's one of the most valuable things we can do, and kudos to John for fighting the good fight.

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