Do media numbers lie?

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Information is a funny old thing.  It comes from every source imaginable; friends, family, PHDs’, politicians, books, TV, the list is endless.  And what we do with is even more endless.  We use it to; invest, self diagnose, spend money, speculate, take chances, drive certain cars certain ways, eat right or wrong, pick schools, and on and on and on.  What we typically don’t do is verify it.

For example, lets say Gallup produces a “poll”.  This many Americans believe this brand of “Snoozle” is the best, period.  Or brand “X” politician is favored by whatever margin in the upcoming election (that would be 2 years down the road, mind you).  Ever looked at those polls?  Not only is there a disclaimer of a 2-3% error, typically the poll consists of somewhere in the 1,000 person mark.  Lets’ do the math.  Estimated US population via Wikipedia 311,982,000.  If you give the error margin it’s due @ 3% that’s 30 people, so your poll has supposed accuracy of 970 opinions/votes on said topic.  970 divided by 311,982,000 is a really small number.  Lets take out the under 18 group just for fun and probably lack of interest by that group (72,025,000 per the US Census, estimated) gives us 970 divided by 239,957,000 still gives us a really small number, tiny as a matter of fact, as in .000004 (forgive me if I am off by a zero, the calculator ran out of room!).  But, we are supposed to believe that this is an accurate overview of what the American public thinks, wants, believes, hopes for————–.  Did I mention that 82% of the population is listed as living in a city environment?  Ever notice they don’t tell you where the poll was taken?  NYC street corner off Broadway perhaps?  Phone(y) survey where if no one answered they checked whatever box was handy so they could get off work in time?  Were the questions leading or asked in such a manner that the outcome is basically predetermined?  I digress. Obviously my faith in the information, how it was put together and then presented is dubious at best.

I’m not against polls.  I’m sure they provide someone with useful information.  I’m just not sure who it is, what section of the demographic it is supposed to represent and why the media find it such a quotable statistic.  They are mindbenders to a point.  They would have you believe that far less than 1% of Americans have a certain opinion and is stated, for the most part, as fact.  So now, via repeated presentation, they have to bend the rest of the population around numbers that have no real meaning, statistically speaking, to over 99% of the country.  That’s pretty good bending and also pretty scary.  So, by use of  these polls you are working to convince basically an entire population of  something.   Makes you go hummm———. 

 My grandmother used to think if it was on TV or in the paper, it had to be true.  Do you?

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