Friday, April 16, 2010

Abuse of polling data has a long pedigree

I've shared my thoughts on polling and how polling data is used many times here and on Glass City Jungle. I said, "AMEN" more than once when reading this article, Climategate Claptrap, I by Mark Hertsgaard. I highly recommend reading all of it, but one part that I felt was important:
Advocates across the political spectrum habitually cite polls to "prove" that the public holds a certain view of a given issue, even when the truth is more complicated or even contradictory. This appears to be happening with the climate issue. As the Obama administration and Congressional leaders prepare to introduce new climate legislation, mainstream media have given fresh prominence to deniers' claims of fraud and rampant error on the part of climate scientists. Meanwhile, surveys by Gallup and other leading pollsters are being spun as evidence that the deniers are gaining ground among the public, which is supposedly divided over whether to take action against rising temperatures and the droughts, storms and sea-level rise they trigger. A closer look, however, suggests that public opinion has changed very little. What has changed is the message coming from the media, key parts of which have reverted to their longstanding posture of scientific illiteracy and de facto complicity with the deniers' disinformation campaign.

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