Friday, February 12, 2016

Survey says! "Most people" will [__] like*, [__] agree with*, [__] share* this post! (Please check all that apply. * = required field.)

I was watching Bernie Sanders talking with Stephen Colbert the other night, and it struck me how often Sanders started sentences with, “Most people....”

As I listened, I realized we’re hearing this a lot these days.

Politicians, pundits, candidates, and others are making claims that “Most people” think a certain way, like certain things, feel a certain way, believe certain things, want the country to go a certain direction.

I listen and think, “I had no idea that’s what I was feeling!”

They’re saying stuff like, “Most people are angry with the establishment.”

Or, “Most people don’t trust Muslims.”

Or, “Most people want to see a wall go up.”

Or, “Most people want to see Obamacare repealed.”

Or, “Most people love Obamacare.”

Or, “Most people support women’s right to choose.”

Or, “Most people are misogynists.”

As you can tell, “Most people” seem to be very conflicted and double-minded, like waves tossed to and fro!

Of course, the point of view as to what “Most people” think and believe varies among those making the observation.

Which should make us all wonder, how do any of these people really know what “Most people” think?

I mean, who are they really talking about? Or to?

Is it “Most people” who were in the same room with them at a certain point in time?

“Most people” who happened to answer their phones while eating dinner and agreed to take a poll?

“Most people” they sat near on their recent flight out of Iowa?

“Most people” who are still friends with them on Facebook?

And how many people make up these “Most people” groups?

Is it “Most people” out of the 3 or 4 that bought coffee while they were standing in line at Starbucks?

Or, “Most people” out of 100 they shook hands with yesterday?

Or, “Most people” of the dozen in their family who showed up for Christmas dinner last year and stayed sober enough to have a rational conversation with after?

Usually, when someone is making a “Most people” claim, there is the assumption that some sort of poll took place. That there was an organized, intentional effort to contact a certain number of people, ask them the same questions, and tally their responses.

Polls are a big deal during election seasons.They are supposed to be sure-fire proof as to how the “Most people” winds are blowing from one minute to the next.

But again, it’s often not clear who these “Most people” are who have taken these polls.

Think about it.

No pollster in America can ask every single other person in America what they think about a given topic.

Basically, only a few people from a set sampling who are called actually answer the phone and then agree to answer every one of the poll questions.

From this necessarily tiny sampling result, pollsters then make claims about how everyone -- including all of us who did not participate in the poll -- think, believe, feel.

Three hundred nineteen million (319,000,000) people live in the United States of America.

That would mean that 51% of the population would need to agree to make a “Most people” group.

In other words, to be able to legitimately say “Most people in America like Doritos,” at least 159,900,001 would have to confirm that they indeed did like Doritos.

(And, yes I do like Doritos. Very much. Sorry NARAL.)

Otherwise, we’re merely speculating. Projecting. Extrapolating. Assuming. Guessing.

Which is pretty much the case with any poll about anything ever.

After all, to sample just one percent (1%) of the population would mean talking to three million one hundred ninety thousand (3,190,000) people. Who’s got the time? Or the money?

No pollster will go to the expense or trouble to attempt such a feat. It’s just not practical.

So, a small sampling are called, of those a smaller number are chosen, and then the results are parsed, sorted, algorithmatized, fudged, stretched, spun, and spat out. It's all so, Calvinistic.

“Most people” should agree that most polls are generally very suspect.

Still, as long as the poll-quoters present their claims in an authoritative manner, using a soothing mellifluous voice, and a keeping a reasonably straight face, most people will say, “Yep, that’s what I thought, too!” and fall in line.

Sadly, it’s what “Most people” too often do.

Even those of us who are included in the poll slop-trough of “Most people” do the same thing on our own.

At coffee with our friend, we blithely state, “Well, you know, ‘Most people’ think Starbucks coffee tastes burnt.” Then we nod our head like a bobble-sage and primly sip our Starbucks vanilla two-pump extra shot latte.

If pressed as to who these “Most people” are we’re referring to, after some feigned threats of bottled-water-boarding, we’d finally confess that of the 5 people at last night’s Bible study, the 2 we talked to while we were in the host’s kitchen getting coffee seemed to believe that Starbucks coffee tasted burnt.
 
At least, as best as we can at this time recollect.

When further pressed, we aren’t clear as to how the topic came up in the previous night’s conversation. Or even what the topic of the Bible study was. We think it had something to do with Jonah. Perhaps. Who knows? Weren’t we talking about coffee?

The Bible says if we lack wisdom, we can just ask for it from God and He’ll give it to us (James 1:5).

Seems like “Most people” aren’t asking.

I guess “Most people” don’t know they need it. Wisdom, that is.

After all, that’s what we have polls for.

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If you are currently steadfastly throwing your support behind a specific candidate, why? What exactly are they saying that you are putting your faith and trust in? Do you readily believe poll results? Why or why not? Do you regularly ask God for wisdom? If so, about what kinds of things? Please share your thoughts in the comments! 


And please vote for my book by offering a small contribution to help me get it published. “Most people” would think this is a great idea!


Just for fun: Listen to this Randy Newman song and think “Most people instead of Short People and it still works. Now, every time you hear someone say Most people” this tune will come to mind. You’re welcome: 

 

2 comments:

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