Progressive Writers Bloc

Uncle Bill's Poll Results Are In!

Uncle Bill Warner

I just compromised my integrity and voted eight times in an online poll on the KSEE24 site having to do with who I thought won the Vice-Presidential Debate. I am contrite. The poll result will doubtless give my contribution(s) weight that they do not deserve.

Funny, for some reason, polling a special group of people like computer users are still being presented as if they meant something. One guy with a computer who knows what he is doing can vote hundreds of time and nobody will be the wiser, especially the poor mislead suckers who have heard or seen the results.

For some reason, people have come to expect some measure of truth from broadcast or print media. I once commented on a partisan "hit piece" book that one of my high school students was quoting, and she got all huffy, replying, "Well, they wouldn't let them print it is it wasn't true.!" Unfortunately there are a lot of gullible folks out there who fall into that trap.

Another phenomenon has to do with the influence of polls and "news-cum-veritas" that influences voting behaviour. People like to vote for winners, and it has been shown time and time again that people sometimes stay home and do not bother to vote if they figure their ballot will not make any difference! When the polls close on the East Coast and the polls are still open for another three hours on the West Coast, this can, and does, have an effect. As we saw in Florida in 2000, some 500 properly-placed votes can decide momentous events like who becomes president. Are there any soldiers in Iraq today , sent by the Bush administration on the basis of false information, that might not have been there if they had voted? Problematic, but worth considering?

To quote a chap whose name slips my mind, "Americans are the best-entertained and the least-informed of any people on the planet." Many equate "facts" given them by obviously-biased sources such as Fox news or most AM radio station right-wing talk show hosts with truth. As an informed public is a laudable goal in a democracy, people need to turn off "Survivor" and tune in some alternative sources of "facts" such as Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" on KFCF-FM or perhaps surf up on the net, just to see that there really IS another side, or sides, to what they are buying from their usual respected sources.

Anyway, I decided to try my hand at finding truth through some polling of my own. My first effort involved a phone poll on who is going to win in November. Both my parents answered, George Bush", so my poll results, herein duly published show 100% for Bush, 0% for Kerry.

My next poll was at my local Shell station, where I interviewed people with large trucks and SUVs. The question was "Do you think gas prices are too high?" Out of ten answers, only one, who obviously didn't speak English very well, said "Yes." In the interest of scientific accuracy, I put him down as a "No opinion." So, laminate this for your wallet: 90% of gasoline buyers think gas prices are too high! Of course, you may wish to fault me due to my extrapolating from "Truck/SUV owners" to "gasoline buyers", but I'm sure even mo-ped owners would have answered in the affirmative, if I had asked. I need a little license here...

I next tried an online poll among all of the folks I know in the peace movement. Well, I ignored the ones who don't have computers, but I'm sure that is insignificant. Out of the 100 people I sent out questions to only three responded. The question was, "Do you think it was wrong to invade Iraq?" All three answered "Yes!" One lady felt so strongly about it that I counted her six times. So, that was 8 votes against the war. Note the result: 100% of the American People are against the war. O.K., so I shaded the "invasion" into "the war", and figured my sample was good enough to speak for the American People but hey, aren't they the same thing? I try to be objective in constructing my survey questions.

I will publish other illuminating polls that I will do from time to time when they pertain to current topics. If you would like to be included in my next one, having to do with the parentage of Osama Bin Laden, feel free to contact me.

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