Nerd For Tech
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Nerd For Tech

Useless Opinion Poll Questions.

I’ve noticed that a lot of opinion poll questions are so poorly phrased that the results are useless.

Here’s an example of what I mean (I saw this recently as a poll on Twitter): “If America knew a year ago what we know now, would Trump have been elected instead Biden?” The problem is that some people will answer “no”, because they think the election was rigged and therefore no matter what, Biden was going to win. Other’s will answer “no” because they think that America doesn’t know anything important now that it didn’t know a year ago. So the number of “no”s doesn’t tell you much, because you can only guess at the reasons for them. And thus the result is largely useless. Note that the results are still useless regardless whether the election was rigged, and regardless of whether the idea that the election was rigged (or not rigged) is baseless or aburd.

Here’s another that was asked by a well known polling company a few years ago that struck me a terrible poll question: “Has Britain become more sexist in recent years?”. The problem is that some will answer “yes”, meaning it has become more sexist against women, while others will answer “yes”, meaning it has become more sexist against men. Note that the results are still useless whether or not the idea of sexism against men (or women) is absurd.

What would be a problem with this poll question: “Has America become more racist during the last five years?” Can you figure it out? Scroll down to see the answer.

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The answer is that some will answer “Yes”, meaning that America has become more racist against Black Americans, while others will answer “Yes”, meaning that it has become more racist against White Americans (or perhaps against some other race).

Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

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Matthew Christopher Bartsh

Matthew Christopher Bartsh

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I always follow back. I usually follow anyone who makes an interesting or okay response to one my articles. I often clap. I never give fewer than fifty claps.