Classic example demonstrating how online polls are worthless

We haven’t screwed with an online poll in a long time, but I think this one deserves a special bit of attention.

It’s from Arizona Wingnut Paul Gosar, DDS. It’s stupid because the wording is so flagrantly biased to the point where it shouldn’t even be a poll — if you feel that strongly about the issue, why are you asking for others’ opinions instead of standing up for your principles? I answered “no” to everything except the last one. I wonder if he gets enough votes that reject his biases, that he’ll then do an about-face?

I wasn’t even trying to be mindlessly contrary. I think “no” is the right answer to every question there but the last.

Take the Mainstream Media Accountability Survey!

The Republicans have put out an online poll to find out what you think of the media coverage of the Trump administration. It’s a trap! Watch what you say on it, because it’s trying to put you in a bind: you either think the mainstream media sucks and is biased against Trump, or you think it’s doing a wonderful job. There is no provision for “Mainstream media sucks because they’ve been far too kind and wishy-washy about the Asshole-In-Chief”. Go ahead and take it though, and let one factor decide how you answer: will it make Donald Trump unhappy, and go against the result the poll is engineered to generate?

A tree poll!

I mentioned that one of the dignified trees in our yard was marked for death — we got the detailed diagnosis. It’s Dutch Elm disease. We have some guys coming by on Monday to hack it to death and haul away its dismembered limbs.

But it’s not all sad and grisly news. We’ve also talked to the city, and they’ve given us their list of trees to be planted around town this fall (the number is how many of each they have on hand), and we can get on the list and name a preference.

10) Accolade Elm
10) Acer Sienna Maple
5) Hackberry
5) Deborah Maple
5) Thornless Hawthorn
10) Cathedral Elm
5) Ivory Silk Japanese Tree Lilac
10) Siouxland Poplar
5) Ironwood
5) Bur Oak
10) Northern Acclaim Locust
5) Silver Maple
5) Willow Weeping

We’re going to do some research ourselves, but I thought I’d be lazy and ask all of you readers — which ones do you like and why?

Great. Twitter allows Pointless Polls

Of all the things Twitter needed to improve their service, allowing meaningless polls of your subset of readers wasn’t one of them. But there you go, you can create polls and get the biases of your readership expressed in cold, hard numbers that mean nothing at all.

Here’s an example.

Do you agree that Black Lives Matter #BLM is the new black version of the Klu Klux Klan?
80% Yes
20% No

(I think you’ll need to go to this link on and have a twitter account to vote.)

So here’s a guy who has a lot of racist friends, who has made an utterly stupid racist statement, and is asking all of his fucking racist buddies to validate it.

Thanks, Twitter.

Pointless poll on a medical absurdity

Unbelievable. The BMJ hosted a written debate on homeopathy. The side for homeopathy blathers on about various studies and meta-analyses and mostly just vaguely suggests positive results; when they get specific, the best they can say is that homeopaths use fewer antimicrobials. And their summary is truly ignorant.

Doctors should put aside bias based on the alleged implausibility of homeopathy. When integrated with standard care homeopathy is safe, popular with patients, improves clinical outcomes without increasing costs, and reduces the use of potentially hazardous drugs, including antimicrobials.

We should set aside the fact that there is no mechanism to allow water to magically retain the power of non-existent molecules? I cannot do that, sir. I also cannot set aside the ludicrous rationales provided for the medical utility of plain old water, which suggest that homeopathic practitioners are gullible fools.

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A local poll, created by me

You can’t imagine how much I hate the loud, cheesy, obnoxiously sectarian chimes that ring in the cemetary near my house — they’re so loud that we have to close up all the windows in my house all summer long, unless we really want to listen to hymns every 15 minutes. They were briefly shut off for a while last year when someone cut the cables — really, I’m not the only one who hates them — and that ass, Ted Storck, who had them installed and lives nowhere near them had them repaired, and then wrote to accuse me of having done it.

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A #gamergate poll

I don’t expect to win this one: it’s gotten the attention of github, the core of the dudebro universe, and it’s already gone far in the direction of delusion, with swarms of self-righteous gamer goons rushing to vote for their bias. The poll asks, What do you think is at the heart of GamerGate? (and like all badly designed polls, uses choices to split the vote). Here’s the status so far:


And this is right after the article tells you to go read a summary written by the GamerGate goons which starts like this:

We’ve got years of social justice ideologies, largely radical-feminist rhetoric, once thought safely contained within small blogging communities such as Tumblr, becoming more and more prevalent within games reporting.

How do you look yourself in the mirror in the morning if you are willing to so openly condemn “social justice”? Isn’t it also clear that what bothers these guys most is feminism?

Go vote. Despair that you’re outnumbered, but just remember: you’re atheists. You’ve always been outnumbered. You’ve also always been right.

Australia ought to be a little bit embarrassed by Tim Blair

He has put up a poll to choose which Australian women ought to be demonized. The primary criterion for inclusion seems to be that they are a) women, and b) not as stupid as he is, and apparently women who are smarter than Blair are to be called “frightbats”.


Who is Australia’s craziest left-wing frightbat?

Clementine Ford  21.11%
Elizabeth Farrelly  4.23%
Marieke Hardy  6.24%
Catherine Deveny  12.11%
Vanessa Badham  14.9% 
Margo Kingston  14.07%
Anne Summers  11.32% 
Clem Bastow  3.29%
Jenna Price  6.24%
Jane Caro  6.48%

I only know Catherine Deveny and Jane Caro on the list; they both seem nice, and since Caro was behind, I voted for her (sorry, Catherine). Some of them have even been promoting the poll.

Can we just forget about the poll and declare every one of them too scary for Tim Blair?

A poll with hubris!

It’s not so much the stupidity of this poll as it is the blithe arrogance of it.

For several years the debate has raged on between Conservatives and Liberals about two words in the Pledge Of Allegiance.

These words are, “Under God”.

Let’s settle this debate today.

With an online poll. On a little-known website. Right.

POLL: Should “Under God” Stay In The Pledge Of Allegiance?

Yes 84%
No 16%

So if those numbers change, will the people at that website then just say, “Well, it’s settled then. I guess we’ll stop saying “under god.”? If they stay the same, will you atheists consider the issue resolved and resign yourself to praising god?