Life is a bit chaotic this weekend, but as we head towards what looks to be a rather drawn out election season, here’s a quote to keep in mind:
“The public’s ‘opinion’ on almost any issue will be a function of the question asked.”
-Neil Postman, Technopoly (as found on Twitter)
The exact wording here is important…”a function of” does not mean the question fully makes the opinion, but rather that it transforms it in ways that can often be predicted. A good thing to remember when you see headlines saying “the public supports ______” or “low public support for _______”.
One thought on “Quote for Election Season”
Absolutely. I remember Democrats touting the idea that 60% of people didn’t want Bill Clinton to be removed from office as a mandated that it would be horribly divisive and damaging for the country to go through it. The other side of that was that almost half of those didn’t think it would be that big a deal, and they wouldn’t be that bothered. They just preferred otherwise.
One thing that is predictable is that the party in power will tell you how great the economy is doing – or that it’s the opposition party’s fault – while the opposition party will tell you how terrible the economy is, whatever the statistics say. The statistic that 40% of Americans could not absorb an unexpected $400 expense is a good example of that. It’s about as untrue as it gets, but it gets airtime anyway.
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