What if exit polls measured temperature?

The Burns Wards Of Hospitals Would Be Packed

Just look at those crazy numbers. What purpose do they serve? Imagine, each one of those names in the first column is the brand name of a thermometer, and the numbers after it, readings off a bucket of bath water, or your cup of McDonald’s coffee.

If you recall the famous McDonald’s hot coffee case, the company had to pay an elderly woman several hundred-thousand dollars because its too-hot coffee scalded her. How hot was that coffee? Somewhere in the range 180–190 degrees Fahrenheit. The woman’s lawyers said coffee at 190F causes third degree burns in 2–7 seconds, while at 160F, it takes about 20 seconds.

Now, return to your own cup of coffee, and use our ‘thermometers’ from the graphic to decide whether you should drink it immediately or let it cool down.

The first one of the meters says your coffee might be as hot as 279F, which is much more than the temperature inside a pressure cooker. You might lose your lips and suffer unimaginable oral trauma trying to sip it. But if you believe the fifth poll from the top, you are ruining your coffee reading this because it is already at 155F, and cooling every second.

They don’t seem particularly reliable meters, and you are wasting time relying on them. They are only paralysing you with doubt. One of them might prove reliable in the end, but at the moment you are left to your own resources — your senses.

Polls are not coffee

Your un-drunk coffee is something waiting to happen, so your concern about its temperature is understandable, just the way your concern about a ramshackle bridge that you need to drive over is wise. But the elections are over and exit polls are merely trying to tell you the outcome that cannot be influenced. They are like the crowd calling “six” and “catch” when the batsman has lobbed the ball high towards the boundary. The crowd’s shouting will not change the course of the ball or the fielder’s movement (assuming he is deaf). They might as well wait a second to see the result.

What purpose do exit polls serve coming two days before the actual results? They are nothing but noise from the bleachers. Pollsters will insist they are not mere noise, that they are scientifically conducted. Bullshit! There is nothing scientific about polls that produce numbers where the maximum is 84% more than the minimum.

You might blame the sampling, but isn’t that the most crucial aspect of any survey? The sampling here is either unscientific or inept, or lazy. These numbers belong in the trash, not the front pages of newspapers. Yet, editors choose to splash them over bigger news. Why?

Entertainment. Entertainment. Entertainment.

Entertainment sells. Exit polls are entertainment — not information — delivered on the front page.

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