Sunday, June 5, 2016

Does The Polling Data Make Sense?

I realize this may be a little off the beaten track of my blog, but in some ways it is right on track.  After all, we use polling data to base our decisions on in this country especially and we solidify group think based upon the polling data.

Unfortunately all too often, polling data does not make sense.  It does not add up!

When I was in statistics classes, one of the things I was taught was to look at your data sample and the results to see if it makes sense.  Does it add up?  Do the conclusions mean what they say or are you missing something.

These days in politics and the media, polling data results are published ad nauseum with very little basis in reality.  No one stops to look at the data and see if the results really make sense.  Yes, I know that politics and the media have agendas, but this does nothing but solidify group think.

How you can skew the data....

It isn't just the politics and media that do this.  Sometimes it is leading research organizations and companies that stand to profit from the results.  I worked in some agriculture feed companies at one time and it was always amazing how each company did their own research and showed the competitors product was consumed less and offered less results than their product.  Each one would say the same thing.  How on earth can you skew the data so much to glean the results you want.

I've seen this happen in many products that are pushed on the market.  Research is done and it looks legit, but as I have found, much of the data does not prove the end result.  Somehow these companies make it out to be proof that backs up their products, but there's some devious number crunching going on.  Sorry if you are offended because you're one of those people that cook the books and make water into pumpkin soup.

No one questions what they share

However, the bigger nightmare is how people gulp these things down and share them on social media.  They think they are just as true as if I told you the body is made up of 100% air.  No one questions what they share.  Very few actually read and study what they share.  Online social media companies bank on you doing this because that is how they make their money.  If you want to be a respected member of society, don't you owe your friends and followers more than that?

Let's get back to the point of polling data making sense.  Suppose you come to my house and sample some data using my cats as an example.  If you were studying how many cats are orange and not orange, you would conclude that 50% of cats are orange.  If you were a company or politician or the media trying to promote your own agenda, you would claim that to be the truth.  However, all you would have to do is go to some other houses near where I live and the results and conclusions would not hold up.

This is exactly what we do in our day and age.  We sample data in the simplest and unethical manner possible and then we report it as fact.  Once it is reported, then everyone shares and likes and passes it on as if it were the truth.  No one ever asks, does the polling data make sense.

I hope that we as a people of this country and planet can learn to offer something more to our fellow travelers on this journey.  If we could only be honest and trustworthy by offering up solid evidence based data, then we might just have a chance to evolve this world in a forward motion.

The following blog post is not necessarily about the subject of polling data, but it is an offshoot of this discussion.  You may want to read, "Following Blind Allegiance".

Question Of The Day

Do you pass on polling data and research data that you have not fully evaluated and read?

Blog Post And Images (c) 2016 by Don Shetterly
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