Friday, June 16, 2006

CNN Leads with False Headline

Cnn is running a headline on its website that says something like Majority Want Iraq Pullout Timetable Set. However dig into the numbers, and 53% want this, with an error rate of +/- 3%. Now, I may be from Texas, but it sounds like the country is evenly split to me! No wonder many of us don't trust the MSM.


At 4:56 PM, Blogger Alan_McDonald said...

Margin of Error

First of all, it is such a wonderful phrase: the Margin of Error. Conjures up other phrases, like the Axis of Evil or the Path to Hell. When I picture it, I’m looking at the outer edges of a bell curve. Truth is all clustered tight in the center, while Error lives on the extreme left and on the extreme right. In other words, it should be called the Margins of Error, the outer boundaries on the page of Fact.

But, I digress. I really came hear to talk about my wife’s niece’s husband, Dr. Les Moore. You would really love this guy; in fact, everybody really loves this guy. Les is a good old boy from North Carolina, a veteran, a martial artist, an acupuncturist and a lay minister. In his spare time, he writes books (like Healing in the Christian Spiritual Tradition) and dabbles in his Scotch-Irish roots. Here’s his curriculum vitae from his website Classical Formulas:

Dr. Moore received a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon. He is a New York State licensed acupuncturist and is Board Certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. He has also earned a Master of Arts in Applied Theology and a Graduate Certificate in Interfaith Pastoral and Spiritual Care from Marylhurst University in Marylhurst, Oregon.

One family Christmas a few years ago, after turkey dinner, Les and I and my wife’s nephew Mike were in the family room. Mike appeared to be napping while Les and I discussed world affairs. When we got around to the middle east, I stated my contention that Americans might not be 100% pro-Israel, but they are 100% anti-Palestinian. In fact, I went further to contend that, since the margin of error is usually expressed in a range of percentages, e.g., +/- 3%, all of the pro-Palestinians in the United States are within that margin of error, and, therefore, do not exist! At this point, Mike woke up and told us that we didn’t exist because we were obviously pro-Palestinians because we were both wearing Birkenstock sandals.

And all of the above is well within the bell curve of Truth.

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Chas said...

That's quite a post Allen! As Disraeli said, there's lies, damned lies, and statistics. Polling can be particularly abused, by either party, to further their agenda. But i would like CNN to report it "fair and balanced." Also, how is the question asked? "Do you want troops withdrawn from Iraq to stop further loss of life?" uh, yes.

or " Do you want troops withdrawn from iraq and let al-Queda win." Uh, no.

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Alan_McDonald said...

I agree that poll results are misleading if you don't know the question asked. On the rare occasion that I see a poll reported that looks interesting, I always try to find the organization that conducted the poll to see if they published (for free, of course) the actual questions and the detailed responses.

As to my earlier comment, it's been rolling around in my head for three years, and you gave me the impetus to write it down. Thanks.

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