Saturday, June 05, 2010

Unscientific polling in the internet

I see the following tweet:

@ChrisLove: Do You Prefer a Stick Shift or Automatic? 
[Stick Shift: || Automatic: ]

(I really like the way he used “||” instead of “or”.) Being a stick shift enthusiast (ok weirdo), I clicked on without thinking about it; when the page loaded I saw that the stick shift was beating automatic 80 to 20. This doesn’t match what I see in the world.

The problem is that people who prefer stick care deeply, but people who prefer automatic don’t feel strongly about their preference (unless they are forced to drive a stick).

This example is probably harmless. However, both the Republicans and Democrats in the US are using this kind of polling to push their point of view.

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