The Trap of Pseudo Polls

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Every day I come across a multitude of pseudo polls. One, which stuck out, was that of the Patch.com news sites, specifically the BarringtonPatch.com. This pseudo poll begged the question "Should uniforms for the U.S. Olympics athletes be required to be made in the U.S.?" With only two choice options -- yes or no -- and only 39 responses, the results of this poll have no statistical or scientific reliability, and are therefore not a proper indicator of the population's opinion of an issue. The unrepresentative population sampled in the survey causes the results of both polls to be invalid and unreliable. However, I believe even if the poll were to have a representative random sample, the results would still be invalid due to its limited number of response options - some people may not be fully aware of the circumstances surrounding the issues and/or other may not have any opinion.

While I believe the questions are clear, the article preceding the pseudo poll introduces bias by citing how "citizens are up in arms," and how the "reaction [was] so strong that the company pledged to manufacture uniforms for the 2014 Winter Games in the U.S." Additionally, the pseudo poll provided an option to 'View Results' prior to voting, enabling people's opinions to be swayed by the voting of others. If I could make any corrections, I would suggest that the poll conduct a random survey - meaning every member of the population has an equal chance of being chosen - so that their populations many be well represented and generalized. I have three additional suggestions for the pseudo poll: (1) conduct the poll independent of the article, (2) disable the 'View Results' option until after the poll has been closed and the results have been analyzed and finally and (3) include the additional options of 'not aware of the controversy' and 'aware of the controversy, but have no opinion.'

http://barrington.patch.com/articles/poll-make-olympic-uniform-in-us

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This page contains a single entry by stei0683 published on December 3, 2012 10:52 PM.

To Participate, Or Not To Participate... That Is The Ethical Question was the previous entry in this blog.

The Pros and Cons of Open Ended Questions is the next entry in this blog.

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