Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rants and pet peeves

Excuse me if my last two posts were a bit too long and rantish (ranty? rantesque?), but perhaps the two things the media reports most badly are polls and economics.

The economic idiocy of the average journalist is so notorious as to need no further discussion.

The media's habitual and abusive misreporting of opinion polls is less widely acknowledged, but no less damaging. More than anything, I hate the tendency of the media to report some survey numbers as if to say, "The people have spoken!" Vox populi, vox Dei.

Never the mind the multiple potential sources of bias in any poll, what's horrible about this kind of bogus reporting of poll data -- "A majority of Americans are in favor of Policy X" -- is that it suggests that the numbers represent well-informed, carefully considered, strongly held and more or less permanent opinions.

This kind of bogus poll reporting tends toward a suppression of debate. "Sixty-three percent of Americans support Policy X." The message to opponents of Policy X is: "Stop arguing! How dare you dispute The Will Of The People?"

It annoys me, like I say.

No comments:

Post a Comment