Skip to main content

Poll Dancing

Photo by JulNichols of iStock Photo

You probably heard the same news I did:  46% of Americans now support legalizing marijuana, according to a recent Gallup Poll.

Hooey! Gallup interviewed 500 Americans.  

It's stated clearly on their Website:

Survey Methods
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Oct. 7-10, 2010, with a random sample of 1,025 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
Each question reported here was asked of a half-sample of approximately 500 national adults.
How, why do both the media and Gallup's own publicity apparatus DARE to tell us that 46 percent of Americans think anything?  46 percent of the 500 people they talked to are in favor of legalizing marijuana. Yes, that is the highest percentage of people for pro-legalization ever. But the actual number of people is 230 Americans.  Yes, they choose those survey-ees from a random sample, and take into consideration age and other demographic information, but it is still just 230 people!
As the political season heats up, we will see news report after news report tell us what polls tell us. Look up the polls, look up the numbers, and learn the truth. Research is great. When done well, surveys can be helpful, informative, and accurate indicators of trends. Still, this should give no media and no organization the right to speak for an entire country after talking to a few hundred people.
To be honest, this should be reported as: "In Gallup's latest poll on whether or not Americans  favor legalizing marijuana, 46 percent of those polled said that they are in favor." They could be even more transparent and add: "500 people were surveyed."
I have yet to be one of those Americans that Gallup or anyone else "polls." I also have yet to be an American that decides what or how to think because of any poll taken anywhere. I think, and hope, that I'm alone in this. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Life without Television, Part 2

I began life without television with relief, which was consistent Monday through Friday. The first few weekends, though, felt awkward, anxious, lonely. When PBS has good programming on Saturday nights, it is extraordinarily good. Father Brown, Phryne Fisher, New Tricks... Extraordinary acting, high production values, and I fantasize about the pudgy, brilliant priest just perhaps having an innocent crush on one of his special parishioners, which would be moi. 

I called a friend one Sunday. "Maybe television helped with my anxiety more than I realized," I said. She told me about her aunt who, after her husband's death, kept the television on in his "man cave" 24/7. He has been gone years now. The television goes on, everlasting, in his absence. I don't blame her. Much of my frequent and prolonged television viewing began with grief.

After my sister died, I would watch almost anything, especially late at night when sleep eluded me. I even watched Convoy with …

Our Texas, My Texas: "Memories we carry like scars and diamonds"

This post title includes a quote from Hermine Pinson's poem, "Four Sisters and the Dance." As you read, it will become clear why.

I was 7 when my father earned his Ph.D. from Duke. He then accepted a teaching position at a small private college in a rural Texas town in the 1960s. Population was 5,000, give or take a few. Our Texas roots ran deep, and we saw this return to the Lone Star State as a homecoming. So, I left the lyrical landscape of the Carolinas and the small private school where I had become nearly fluent in French. Then, I entered the hot, dry world of that small town. 

We did not yet have a place to live. Our family of five, including our infant brother, camped out in the girls' dorm for several weeks. Our furniture was stored on the university theater stage while my parents searched for a home. I was riding in the car with my dad and a member of the university administration and overheard their conversation. My father wondered where he could find help …

Whose day?

Years ago, I made some collages using pages from a desk calendar from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The image that leads this post is one. Inside the hearts and flowers is a picture from the MMA collection of  a Japanese screen made in the 16th century. It is titled Tagasode, which means Whose sleeves?  The title comes from a 10th-century poem:


The fragrance seems even more alluring than the hue, Whose sleeves have brushed past? Or would it be this plum tree blossoming here at home?
Iro yori mo ka koso awaredo omohoyure tagasode fureshi ado no ume zo mo
The word haunts: tagasode. Whose sleeves? The question floats in my mind like a cloud on a still day. The sleeves materialize in my mind's eye. I hear them move through hushed air. I can imagine, though not name, the scent of the person to whom those sleeves belong. It's not unlike smelling the scent of your infant's clothes, or holding the perfume bottle that belonged to your mother...you don't need to open it... you know tha…