June 11, 2004


When my students and I study media bias, this might be a perfect article to discuss:

A majority of American registered voters now say conditions in Iraq did not merit war, but most are reluctant to abandon efforts there, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll.

A majority? How big of a majority?

Voters are increasingly concerned that Iraq is a quagmire America cannot escape, and they are doubtful that a democratic government will be established there, according to the poll published in Friday editions of the Times.

No scare quotes in there? Did the questions in the poll include these words "Is Iraq a quagmire America cannot escape?" or are they the biased drivel straight out of L.A.?

Fifty-three percent of respondents said the situation in Iraq did not merit war, while 43 percent said war was justified. When the same question was asked for Times polls in March and November, the numbers were precisely reversed.

But less than 20 percent said America should withdraw its troops within weeks, and 25 percent said the U.S. should set a deadline for pulling out.

Less than 20 + 25 = max 45%. What did the remaining 55% have to say? Obviously nothing that the LA Times thought was newsworthy. And what was the margin of error, by the way?

The poll, which was conducted from Saturday to Tuesday, surveyed 1,230 registered voters nationwide. It had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

The U.S. population is estimated at close to 300 million right now, and we're supposed to get worked up over what 1,230 people who are registered voters have to say? Hell, I only just registered yesterday, so I would've been ineligible. And if the margin of error is plus or minus 3%, and 53% of these 1,230 people thought war was not necessary, then perhaps only 615 people in the whole USA said this.

615 people. How on earth is this supposed to be representative of the voice of America?

A majority of voters said presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry has done little to help: The poll found that 34 percent said Kerry has not offered a clear plan to handle the war, while 15 percent said he has. The other voters said they didn't know.

Ha ha ha. That last line is a hoot.


Since I certainly wouldn't want Groucho to think I was lazy or stupid, I went and registered for the LA Times so I could read the poll. Turns out it was AP who came up with the quagmire quote all on their own; LA Times chose the expression "bogged down". AP also left out many positive findings in the poll: 52% said the US is winning, 73% said there should be no specific date for withdrawal of troops, etc. At the end of the LA poll we see this disclaimer:

Poll results may also be affected by factors such as question wording and the order in which questions are presented.

At least they're aware of it; I think it's highly biased to ask whether Americans support President Bush by framing the question like this:

Q48. As you may know, John Kerry has said that President Bush has lost credibility around the world and that only a new president can rally the support of US allies to help stabilize Iraq. Do you agree or disagree with this assessment by Kerry?

That's a loaded question, since in order to answer it you have to accept the fact that 1) we care what other countries think and 2) we actually need to rally certain former-allies; I don't accept either of those premises. How would I answer that with a yes/no? It's not possible.

So I hope Groucho is happy that I took the time to read the original. I still think that all polls of this nature are worthless, but now I know for sure that the AP was hilariously biased in their reporting and that the original poll contained loaded questions.

I guess I've learned something today. I learned that people who tick me off can incite me to do more research and strengthen my opinion with even more facts than I had before.


More on why all polls -- not just this one -- are irrelevant.


Well, it's time for bed on my side of the world, so I think 90 comments are plenty for one day. Thanks for participating...

Posted by: Sarah at 05:36 PM | Comments (89) | Add Comment
Post contains 745 words, total size 5 kb.

1 You leaned well from "How to Lie With Statistics"! Nobody will be able to convince you of anything with a poll again!

Posted by: Mike at June 11, 2004 07:15 PM (+K53a)

2 Did the questions in the poll include these words "Is Iraq a quagmire America cannot escape?" or are they the biased drivel straight out of L.A.? Is it laziness or stupidity that keeps you from going to the LAT web site to find out?

Posted by: Groucho at June 12, 2004 12:12 PM (jQg9l)

3 The better question would be, "Did the author of the article know the specifics of the poll before writing it? If so, why did he/she not report on the conditions?" The answer is probably, based on my study of many opinion polls, that the author liked the results, and cared little about the conditions. Isn't trolling fun? It is a real opportunity to learn.

Posted by: Mike at June 12, 2004 01:34 PM (+K53a)

4 You are truly stupid. No poll in America ever used more than one or two thousand people. See that "plus or minus 3%" thing? that means that it is representative of the entire US and it is accurate within 3 percentage points. there is not a single poll thatr doesnt operate this way. so, yes, it is representative of america. your lack of any form of rational logic is truly stunning.

Posted by: Gillon at June 12, 2004 09:23 PM (01Q+A)

5 Dang, who invited all the assholes?

Posted by: Sarah at June 13, 2004 02:58 AM (v9lAE)

6 You teach? I'm amazed. This is one of the most clueless posts I have ever read on a blog. And that is saying something. More evidence that any idiot can set up a web log--and more than a few idiots have.

Posted by: raj at June 13, 2004 11:23 AM (WWS77)

7 Not very popular is this blog. 5 posts in just under 10 hours. Give it a rest.

Posted by: Cloned Poster at June 13, 2004 11:27 AM (17uvR)

8 what incredible dumbfuckery. you teach? well why the hell should we care what you have to say, anyway? It's a nation of nearly 300 million and you're just one person.

Posted by: renato at June 13, 2004 11:30 AM (fbmaS)

9 you have failed to grok the most simple points of (1) reading a fucking article, (2) statistical sampling, and (3) media bias. Congratulations, you're a moron. Don't forget to take a breath. NOW!

Posted by: loser at June 13, 2004 11:36 AM (HPF5E)

10 Your opinion was "strengthened" by that additional information? Whatever helps you sleep better at night, I guess. Did it ever occur to you that the "John Kerry has said that President Bush has lost credibility" question might have come off as just as loaded the other way? As in, there are people who believe that the US has lost credibility but still don't like John Kerry, and would respond negatively to the sentiment that is the subject of the question simply because Kerry's name was connected with it? Please let us know which school you teach at, won't you, so that I can make sure I never send my children there.

Posted by: Doug Gillett at June 13, 2004 11:38 AM (iF7Un)

11 Are you serious when you say you just registered to vote yesterday? Seriously, you just need to STFU if that's the case.

Posted by: Greg in MS at June 13, 2004 11:39 AM (AQ8ky)

12 The amazing thing about the truely stupid is their inability to gauge their own performance. Think of all the "D" students who angrily insist they "deserved" an "A". The lack of a corrective feedback mechanism means once stupid, perpetually stupid. Now this is opposed to ignorant, which simply means lacking in knowledge or information. Ignorance is repairable. Stupidity is willful ignorance. Self-inflicted and permanent. Check out the arcane science of "sampling theory". Then maybe you'll understand how polls work. Or not. Maybe you should just be pissed off at everybody who doesn't see things your way.

Posted by: Warbaby at June 13, 2004 11:40 AM (LLuT6)

13 Since people who tick you off "incite" you to do more research, perhaps you should include a semester or two of introductory statistics in your research. Because anyone who has taken stats knows full well that if the poll was done correctly, ie, consisted of a random sample, then 1230 registered voters can, in fact, represent the opinion of ALL registered voters within a stated margin of error. (And chances are that this poll was done correctly, simply because people who, unlike you, really know what they're talking about when it comes to statistics would be all over them in a moment.) Furthermore, you should NEVER do research to "strengthen" your opinion because that's not genuine research, merely building your self-esteem. Research should only be done to learn the truth about an issue, which may or may not jibe with your opinion. And when you learn that you are wrong and/or ignorant, you need to admit it clearly. Otherwise, you have no business teaching anyone anything.

Posted by: tristero at June 13, 2004 11:57 AM (eCSS7)

14 Truly the dumbest and most un-educated post I have ever seen. My question to you is had the result been, say, 65% of Americans think Bush is doing great in Iraq, would you have put up the same post "criticizing" the methodology? . . . I didn't think so. You're a moron, please turn in your teaching credential or resign and burn you voter registration card you are a gathering threat to democracy.

Posted by: willy at June 13, 2004 11:59 AM (yMTCb)

15 "and if the margin of error is plus or minus 3%, and 53% of these 1,230 people thought war was not necessary, then perhaps only 615 people in the whole USA said this" Is this a serious post? This is grade school stuff, no pun intended.

Posted by: wil at June 13, 2004 12:01 PM (px7lb)

16 You are a teacher? No wonder our education system is so fucked up. Dude, go have a talk with one of the math teachers at the local high school so they can explain the concept of random sampling to you. And here's some advice: if you don't have any idea what you're talking about, then shut the fuck up so you don't make a complete idiot out of yourself, like you did.

Posted by: The Fool at June 13, 2004 12:03 PM (eCiHu)

17 hohoho "we're supposed to get worked up over what 1,230 people" Silly liberals That high-falutin LA times didn't fool you, huh Sarah? It's a good thing you read the fine print. Think of how long this scam has been going on. Look! More media bias! From Fox News even. "The sample is 900 registered voters." Is nothing sacred?

Posted by: Ned at June 13, 2004 12:03 PM (ea1sl)

18 I see you're a Carl Sagan fan. How can you bee after he disrespected Reagan so? "President Ronald Reagan, who spent World War II in Hollywood, vividly described his own role in liberating Nazi concentration camp victims. Living in the film world, he apparently confused a movie he had seen with a reality he had not. On many occasions in his Presidential campaigns, Mr. Reagan told an epic story of World War II courage and sacrifice, an inspiration for all of us. Only it never happened; it was the plot of the movie A Wing and a Prayer- that made quite an impression on me, too, when I saw it at age 9. Many other instances of this sort can be found in Reagan's public statements. It is not hard to imagine serious public dangers emerging out of instances in which political, military, scientific or religious leaders are unable to distinguish fact from vivid fiction." Carl Sagan – The Demon-Haunted World -1996 p. 140

Posted by: Jodi Foster's Ghost at June 13, 2004 12:08 PM (VRE88)

19 I learned that people who tick me off can incite me to do more research and strengthen my opinion with even more facts than I had before. Facts are stupid things. Not as stupid as the people who can't figure out what they're saying, however... or who refuse to.

Posted by: dave at June 13, 2004 12:10 PM (di6wP)

20 Or as my daddy used to say, "figures don't lie, but liars figure!"

Posted by: dave at June 13, 2004 12:11 PM (di6wP)

21 If you were an intelligent conservative you'd be richer.

Posted by: Alex at June 13, 2004 12:15 PM (SvvYR)

22 You have students? Poor kids.

Posted by: Repack Rider at June 13, 2004 12:15 PM (MRm0u)

23 Honey, you are not qualified to teach. I'll bet you don't even have a high school diploma, let alone a college degree, which in most places in America is a prerequisite for a teaching credential. Here's hoping that you are also too lazy and ignorant to find out where your *new* polling place is located, because you aren't qualified to cast an informed vote.

Posted by: Phredd at June 13, 2004 12:15 PM (I5rZE)

24 Conservatives have demonstrated that any idiot can make it in this country: a C student can become preznit and a CFD blogger can become a teacher. God Bless America.

Posted by: NTodd at June 13, 2004 12:25 PM (lKUxU)

25 This is a rare slice of stupidity. I don't know where to start... When polls were taken before the war, showing basic support for the president's policies, they also would have tapped a similar number of respondents and used a similiar ideology. Why don't we go back a year and pick one of those polls apart with your keen eye and see what comes up?

Posted by: JoeB at June 13, 2004 12:28 PM (05GsI)

26 I have never read anything that was so patently stupid as your post. I cannot believe that anyone would pay you a dime to teach anything having to do with statistical research. It is posts like yours that make liberals believe that babbling conservatives are so unretrievably dumb. So do your party a favor and stop posting.

Posted by: kimmer at June 13, 2004 12:28 PM (yRxYD)

27 Wow, you teach. That's amazing. If I were a "pollster" that used "intellectual methods" of ascertaining "preferences" in the "United States", and you were my sole sample, I would be completely within my rights to declare that the whole of the American teaching establishment is criminally insane. If your expertise lies anywhere above the kindergarten level, I'm going to deport myself.

Posted by: Neil at June 13, 2004 12:34 PM (q/4gY)

28 Hay, you loozers leeve Sarah alone. Shes my tetcher and I think shes doeing a grate job at lernin me stuff.

Posted by: Thumb at June 13, 2004 12:38 PM (uMHiC)

29 Sarah, go read a book on statistics, then go sit in the corner. Thanks. And as for this: It was never about oil for the USA. If I hear that again I'm gonna slug someone. Guess what? Iraq's value is its oil reserves. Not the net amount it's currently pumping out, but its potential. That's why they're called "reserves", Sarah. With control of the reserves, you can then swing prices in your favor. Iraq has the 2nd largest oil reserves after Saudi Arabia. As for why we invaded a nation which had nothing to do with 9/11: Check this out.

Posted by: Keynesian at June 13, 2004 12:39 PM (AaBEz)

30 Trying to grok? How about try to read something about statistics. And while you are indoctrinating your students about media bias, perhaps you should teach them about the difference between indoctrination and instruction.

Posted by: billyblazer at June 13, 2004 12:41 PM (9IgmZ)

31 You are a teacher who just registered to vote YESTERDAY? Have you ever even voted before. Way to set an example for your students re: civic duty. It's also so, so sad that we have teachers who make statements along the lines of: "caring what other countries think is a premise I don't accept." Great. I'm glad you have no desire to see the rest of the world, but don't foster that idea to your students. Come on, don't you have any intellectual curiosity? Probably not. You are a "Murcan." Good for you. Murca's the best. Who cares about Yurop. Remember, like Bush said at his last press conference, "oceans can't protect us anymore."

Posted by: willful ignorance at June 13, 2004 12:41 PM (b7/R1)

32 She's probably a home school teacher!

Posted by: Tommy at June 13, 2004 12:42 PM (FretM)

33 Sarah, who gave all 615 people a link to your site!?

Posted by: tenmilekyle at June 13, 2004 12:43 PM (3UjtD)

34 Sarah, who gave all 615 people a link to your site!? LOL!

Posted by: NTodd at June 13, 2004 12:45 PM (lKUxU)

35 hey sarah, Sadly, No! and Atrios "invited all the assholes." unfortunately for you they're dead right.

Posted by: dan at June 13, 2004 12:48 PM (sm3/q)

36 The “teacher” is highly prejudiced if he thinks that his referenced question # 48 is “highly biased.” He says it’s not possible to answer yes or no. Well for starters, it’s not a yes or no question. It asks if you agree or disagree with Kerry’s assessment of international relations. Apparently, this is beyond the teacher’s mental capabilities. My guess is that he got so flustered at the Kerry statement that prefaced the question that his synapses simply shut down. Since the teacher is incapable of answering the question, I’ll give him the key: Since you don’t accept either of the premises given, you DISAGREE with Kerry’s position. Sheesh! What does this guy teach? Remedial stupidity? Danka to http://atrios.blogspot.com/ who occasionally links to back-woods bloggers like this one.

Posted by: BUSHLLIT at June 13, 2004 12:50 PM (/b36s)

37 Looks like the Atrios trolls have arrived. Notice they only have only insults and no insight. Ignore them. They are mindless sheep being led by a paid shill. If you want something poll, poll the IRS to see if Atrios declared the $2,000+ notebook he got through begging on his blog as income.

Posted by: w at June 13, 2004 12:51 PM (9chvI)

38 Many of the comments here have been quite harsh. I see you as not stupid, but frightened by the facts you're being forced to confront. The clearest example of this for me is your response to the question about whether you agree or disagree with Kerry's assessment. What you have chosen to do rather than respond to the question is plead the 5th amendment, which makes it evident to me that you feel you belief system has been put on trial. The Kerry question is NOT predicated on the beliefs you claim. It asks you if you agree that we have lost international credibility due to Bush's actions, not your subjective opinion about whether or not such a loss matters or needs to be rectified. If you pass the fear your post indicates on to your students you will be abusing your obligation to prepare them to meet the challenges and opportunities of life. People who are afraid can't think clearly. Please don't do this to the pupils entrusted to your care.

Posted by: cs at June 13, 2004 12:56 PM (SC/PQ)

39 Gee, w, way to go! Your (in)effective use of ad hominems is likely to keep those bad ol' Atrios posters away from poor Sarah. No matter that Sarah doesn't understand how polls are constructed, or the concept of "margin of error" or a whole lot of things, it seems. You have to bash Atrios, rather than either (a) taking the time to explain to Sarah why her new commentors are right or (b) explaining patiently to Sarah how polls work. Great job, w!

Posted by: Deana Holmes at June 13, 2004 12:58 PM (K0TK+)

40 When I discuss rationalization with my students I think I will include this blog post as an example of strategic blindness. The style of this blog tries to mimic that of left wing blogs but like most right wing puffery it completely fails. Take the opening salvo, "A majority? How big of a majority?". If you read the AP article you will find that the question is answered in paragraph three, 53% to 43% (implying 4% undecided/no answer). The piece continues in the same style, but why is the author incapable of reading the third paragraph? The answer appears to be that the facts conflict with a core belief and so they are rejected. I don't know what the author does for a living but I suspect it is not teaching. Unless he teaches exclusively to classes of right wingers with the same opinions as his own, or the teaching style is exclusively one way it is pretty difficult to maintain such a gross rationalization. Also it seems unlikely that a real teacher of media studies would be so ignorant of basic statistcs. A 1250 person random sample is representative of an infinite population, the chance of the error being more than 3% out due to sampling is about 1 in 20. It is much more likely that there are systematic biases. So what we appear to have is an ignorant bigott trying to pass herself of as some sort of teacher to make her post look more important. If she is a teacher I am really sorry for the pupils at her high school.

Posted by: Phill at June 13, 2004 01:01 PM (YJhy6)

41 Sarah, I suspect you're not ignorant or stupid. You are probably blinded by your ideology. The scare tactics of the GOP and the Right have made it so you have an emotional wall that prevents you from trying to understand any information that refutes your ideological bias. When was the last time you changed your mind about a politicial issue? Are conservative Republicans wrong about anything? If you don't change your mind and conservative Republicans are always right, you aren't really thinking through the issues, are you? You merely regurgitate the emotional response you have been programmed to have.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg at June 13, 2004 01:02 PM (AFJH4)

42 heh, no insight? Maybe because this post had nothing reasonable to respond to. There is a whole misreading of the entire idea of polling. There is a bit of idiocy about a specific poll question. Not much else. But very briefly, go read a basic text on statistics. It will tell you that every poll with a random sample has a certain chance of having a certain amount of error. In this case, probably a 98% chance of coming within the stated 3%. As for question 48, well, Kerry has two points. 1) The US lost credibility. 2) We want that back so our allies will help in Iraq. If you disagree with both of them, the answer to the question "Do you agree with Kerry?" is NO. But then again, all this has already been stated, so I'm really just wasting my time explaining it again.

Posted by: Dan at June 13, 2004 01:02 PM (0TVmM)

43 First he says this: "Looks like the Atrios trolls have arrived. Notice they only have only insults and no insight." Next sentence: "Ignore them. They are mindless sheep being led by a paid shill." Good stuff, that.

Posted by: f at June 13, 2004 01:05 PM (Rli+B)

44 In case you're wondering, she teaches English 101 at a miltary base. Her husband is in Iraq. This is truly amazing. You would think that such a person would write and care more about how the Bush administration is denying our soldiers the things they need to stay alive. It has been well documented that our soldiers are not getting enough bullets, enough body armor, enough armored humvees. The food Brown & Root serves is often spoiled. When they return, they'll find their veteran's benefits cut. You would think that this would be what a military wife would write about. Instead, she is concerned the L. A. Times doesn't support the war appropriately. Can the times send bullets or armor? Bush, a man who has never been to war, treats our soldiers as cannon fodder. I say support the troops - remove their commander.

Posted by: ArjunasBow at June 13, 2004 01:18 PM (eC5OB)

45 Sarah: As one of the Artios "trolls" present here, I must say I am a little embarrassed at all the insults being hurled at you. I for one am glad you just registered to vote and I want to remind you to be sure to exercise that vote on November 3, 2004. MC

Posted by: MC at June 13, 2004 01:22 PM (2EQxt)

46 "I guess I've learned something today. I learned that people who tick me off can incite me to do more research and strengthen my opinion with even more facts than I had before." That's really all it is about for you, isn't it? Not approaching any issue with an open mind, but just trying to "strengthen" your preexisting opinion. And this from a self-proclaimed teacher! Sad, really sad. But the latest post is not as scary as the one before, the one where you wrote "It's no lie that everywhere in the world that there's conflict, Muslims are somehow involved." Just substitute a couple of words and it is identical to Mein Kampf.

Posted by: Kevin at June 13, 2004 01:31 PM (AaBEz)

47 Since when is using a SYNONYM exageration or distortion? Dictionary.com shows: quagmire \Quag"mire`\, n. [Quake + mire.] Soft, wet, miry land, which shakes or yields under the feet. ``A spot surrounded by quagmires, which rendered it difficult of access.'' --Palfrey. Syn: Morass; marsh; bog; swamp; fen; slough. and bog n.An area having a wet, spongy, acidic substrate composed chiefly of sphagnum moss and peat in which characteristic shrubs and herbs and sometimes trees usually grow. Any of certain other wetland areas, such as a fen, having a peat substrate. Also called peat bog. An area of soft, naturally waterlogged ground.

Posted by: Phil Wolff at June 13, 2004 01:38 PM (bTtvy)

48 I realize this post is pretty stupid, but how did so many commenters miss the fact that this was written by a woman? Her name's right there on the bottom. I'm just noticing a lot of references to "he" who wrote it. Completely seriously, did you think pollsters usually called every single person in the country? Is this the first polling result you've ever read? I agree with most of what's been said. The Kerry question isn't predicated on those assumptions. Agreeing with Kerry is. If you don't believe them, you disagree with him. Nothing loaded about it. And the article is very clear, starting with the first paragraph, that the majority of Americans don't want the US to withdraw. The "But less" phrase introducing the results indicates that it is contradictory to the finding that most people think the war was wrong. It's inaccurate to suggest the article overlooked that. The article rightly explains that order of questions and phrasing can affect results. There's simply no bias here. Is that enough insight, w?

Posted by: gordon at June 13, 2004 01:39 PM (spDd1)

49 I love it when fascists resort to equating others to Hitler. I would recommend they read Shirer's classic, but I doubt most could handle it without a dictionary. And it would really piss them off to see how much they have in common with the National Socialist Party. I doubt they'd believe Shirer's text because it is contrary to their perceptions.

Posted by: Mike at June 13, 2004 01:41 PM (+K53a)

50 She is just one of the frightened sheep, a minor member who is currently struggling, trying to find some intellectual basis for ignoring those obviously biased facts. What Atrios has steered us to is the output of Sarah in the middle of her crisis of faith. While all of the criticisms are perfectly valid, I might suggest that it better serves the purposes of those of us who prefer the United States to the GOP to allow her to continue her journey of discovery. If she is honest, she will eventually recognize the weakness of her position of rationalization. If not, there is nothing to save her from herself. In any case, she is a minor player presenting no threat. The cause of driving the snakes from our government is probably better served by simply pointing out the errors in her logic without the right wing style smears and attacks. The shooting of fish in barrels is, while undeniably entertaining, in the end neither admirable nor moral.

Posted by: Shrek at June 13, 2004 01:45 PM (44btU)

51 Sarah, I don't think you'd be getting so many comments from the Atrios crowd if we didn't know you were a teacher. That you are a teacher and passing on this crap to your students is scary but it also can be corrected. Take the advice of the many: get an introductory to stats book and read the chapter on polling. And no need to get defensive. Hell, Ted Koppel made a similar mistake on Nightline. If you don't do anything about this, if you just write off the critiques as liberal rant, well, God help your students because their teacher certainly won't.

Posted by: cc at June 13, 2004 01:52 PM (+1UQR)

52 Uh, take the advice OF many, remove 'the'...

Posted by: cc at June 13, 2004 01:53 PM (+1UQR)

53 It's all good fun to give Sarah a richly deserved thrashing for her amply demonstrated ignorance. What isn't funny is the fact she's passing her ignorance and racism on to the dependents of US military personnel, masked as 'education.' It's a form of child abuse.

Posted by: Jadegold at June 13, 2004 01:53 PM (hDe/Q)

54 This blog is proof that while the democratization that the net offers is good at distributing information and opinion it in no way intrinsically disciminates the good from the bad. Garbage in, garbage out. Lot's o'trash here going out. Seriously, you're a "teacher"? Passed a competency test lately? Trolls or otherwise, this blog reads like an Onion parody.

Posted by: ice weasel at June 13, 2004 01:54 PM (PK/H3)

55 hahaha, you're as dumb as a bucket of hair. there ought to be a test & a license to use the internet.

Posted by: hohohoho at June 13, 2004 02:01 PM (xBrlw)

56 Q 48 loaded? What a cutie you are teach! First we have to assume we care what other countries think. That's the open-mindedness I expect from teachers - out of 6 billion humans on the planet we only care what 45% of 300 million think. The rest of the world can go to blazes. Good thinking teach - if we ignore our allies maybe they'll just go away and keep their nasty opinions to themselves - We don't need anybody's help or trade or commerce or culture - especially their damned cultures! - talking their pluralism and multi-national alliances and sharing of common goals and... Do you realize that if the Chimp in Chief had gone into Iraq with his allies and a sense of real legitimacy that it would have saved American lives, and billions of dollars, and America's international standing (I'll infer you don't care about the loss of stature throughout the world). I guess you also don't care that the fallout from this wrong-headed war will last beyond your lifetime - that GWB has created more terrorists than he's killed. Go research the word fucktard, who invented it etc. - it describes you to a tee - I sure hope your students see this stuff - and drop the Heinlen handle too - it belongs to someone with an open mind - not a regressive fool like yourself - only 615 people in the whole USA? How long were you up inventing that bit of fucktardery?

Posted by: dividedandconquered at June 13, 2004 02:06 PM (/mDhl)

57 AP also left out many positive findings in the poll: 52% said the US is winning, 73% said there should be no specific date for withdrawal of troops, etc. ...is followed by: More on why all polls -- not just this one -- are irrelevant.

Posted by: Sadly, No! at June 13, 2004 02:48 PM (XQOGN)

58 I have given Sarah's position some more thought and regret the personal attacks even though I still think she isn't intellectually qualified to teach. Knowing that she teaches on a base and her spouse is in Iraq puts in relief the contours of her ideology. Her way of thinking is what Karl Rove depends on. It is what allows 'Mercuns to give the thumbs up as they stack naked Iraqis in a pyramid. To a great extent the military, the South, and swaths of the Midwest are echo chambers steeped in fear and ignorance of progressive thought and individualized opinions. She couldn't teach that the Iraq war was a fabricated conflict if she wanted to. She is the Red States personified. As we wrestle with the Andrew Sullivans of the world, the Sarah's quietly go about their day with no need to doubt their own ways or spin. Without Sarah Bush would never have a chance of being elected come November.

Posted by: willy at June 13, 2004 02:49 PM (yMTCb)

59 Were you one of those teachers Jay Leno talked to? You know, the ones who didn't know which century the pilgrims got here, what the ship was called they sailed on, all that stuff? Are you sure you're for Bush? Because he's requiring teachers to take competancy exams. If you are just looking for ammunition, you won't learn, truly. You need to look for information, and see if it fits your preconcieved set of facts.

Posted by: Margot at June 13, 2004 02:50 PM (lfER5)

60 My goodness, what a load you've got here in the comments, Sarah. I hope you're ignoring it. Or, if you feel like taking action, go ahead--delete these ridiculous trolls' comments. This blog is your property, not a free-for-all, and these disrespectful idiots--who add no valid insight whatsoever--are trespassers. I have to suspect that they're all the same two or three people--note the common (mistaken) themes. In any case, those of us who respect you and the blogging you do (even if we disagree with you from time to time) will certainly not think less of you for taking out the trash.

Posted by: Carla at June 13, 2004 02:56 PM (/wZmO)

61 Failing to Grok- Hey, people PAY for the drivel that comes out of L.A. - so in a purely free market/darwinian sense, we win! (Thank GOD for socialism, huh?) - Atrios Troll

Posted by: David in Burbank at June 13, 2004 03:11 PM (W/Ow+)

62 The author of this post needs some help with statistics. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0534372813/104-8318151-5360728?v=glance That should help clear a few things up.

Posted by: Bolo at June 13, 2004 03:17 PM (Tgr46)

63 Ah, yes, Carla, that's so much easier than actually questioning your belief system considering that what all those people have to say just might be true. How typically conservative.

Posted by: delafresh at June 13, 2004 03:18 PM (2zdPT)

64 This post is _profoundly_ stupid. Not just ignorant, but stupid. Is the poster serious when s/he says this: "And if the margin of error is plus or minus 3%, and 53% of these 1,230 people thought war was not necessary, then perhaps only 615 people in the whole USA said this." And this person teaches? You purport to study media bias and don't the first thing about how polls are conducted? It's one thing to embarrass yourself by posting this nonsense. It's quite a different thing to inflict your ignorance and stupidity on your students.

Posted by: O Knussen at June 13, 2004 03:22 PM (1Au4O)

65 "these disrespectful idiots--who add no valid insight whatsoever--are trespassers." Sorry about the behavior of the above commenters, but its very aggravating to have to read posts like this. I don't have any idea what Sarah stands for, etc., but I am very disturbed by the following paragraph in her post: "The U.S. population is estimated at close to 300 million right now, and we're supposed to get worked up over what 1,230 people who are registered voters have to say? Hell, I only just registered yesterday, so I would've been ineligible. And if the margin of error is plus or minus 3%, and 53% of these 1,230 people thought war was not necessary, then perhaps only 615 people in the whole USA said this. 615 people. How on earth is this supposed to be representative of the voice of America?" Now, preceding paragraphs show that she is taking issue with the details of what was asked in the poll (something which could have been found online anyway). However, in this paragraph she appears to be claiming that most of the field of statistics is bunk. For me (and apparently most of the rest of the posters here), that is on par with saying the world is flat. And I think what set a lot of people off, combined with what I just mentioned, was the following line: "When my students and I study media bias..." After that paragraph about "only 615 people," reading this scares me. Is she teaching her students the same logic? Yes, the hostility above is unwarranted, but most of the people who have come here are very fed up with seeing things like this... tolerance levels are way down, so a certain degree of hostility shows up. Sarah, please don't take all these attacks personally. But also, please study and get to know statistics a little better.

Posted by: Bolo at June 13, 2004 03:29 PM (Tgr46)

66 And if the margin of error is 3%, and 53% of these 1230 people thought the war was not necessary, then perhaps only 615 people in the whole USA said this. Actually 53% of 1230, using standard rounding methods, is 652. Out of this group of 1230 people exactly 652 thought the war was not necessary. Were you, Sarah, just trying to take advantage of those of us who are easily confused? Statistics gives you, Sarah, some basis to expect a different random group of 1230 people will include as few as 615 people who think the war was unnecessary. However, two things are for sure; 1)this poll found 652 people in the USA who do not think the war was necessary and 2) if the poll was properly conducted most likely at least 50% of all those not polled, but qualified to be part of the sample, feel the same way.

Posted by: CMike at June 13, 2004 03:36 PM (s6c4t)

67 and these disrespectful idiots--who add no valid insight whatsoever You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

Posted by: Thumb at June 13, 2004 03:41 PM (uMHiC)

68 Is Carla saying that any critic has no valid insight whatsoever, or that Sarah ought to reject those critiques with no valid insight. Can Carla tell the difference. I suspect that Carla is in that same echo chamber where she fantasizes that only 615 people disagree with what Lord George says and does.

Posted by: willy at June 13, 2004 03:53 PM (yMTCb)

69 Hey guys. Sarah's conclusions seem methodologically sound to me.

Posted by: Charles Murray at June 13, 2004 03:55 PM (+moyW)

70 Hey, Carla? Sarah obviously thought some of our insight was valid, otherwise she wouldn't have edited her original post. So go play somewhere else while the adults keep the discussion going, mmmkay? That's a good girl. While we're on the subject, Sarah, I really hope you read every comment in this thread. Think about what we're saying, and then ask yourself if we might not just have a point. You don't necessarily have to agree with us, but at least give it a moment's thought. If, on the other hand, you decide we're all trolls and just delete everything, you're taking the coward's way out and basically admitting that you're hopelessly partisan and intellectually bankrupt. For your sake and the sake of your students, I hope you make the right choice.

Posted by: Jack Flagg at June 13, 2004 03:58 PM (PcgQk)

71 More on why all polls -- not just this one -- are irrelevant. The following points apply to the "update" above: -- The linked article points out not that polls are irrelevent, but that we should be sceptical of them. -- You've neglected to say why and in what way the linked article renders "all polls ... irrelevant". What aspects of the poll apply in this case exactly? -- The linked article states that election results, not pre-election polls, are the only accurate gauge of opinion. But none of the poll's questions are any that will appear on any ballot. So just exactly how does this view apply when this isn't a pre-election poll? -- It doesn't answer or refute any of the comments made about your original conclusions.

Posted by: Spinning Tops at June 13, 2004 04:01 PM (8rWYi)

72 This is not about ideology, except as it relates to selective rejection of reason, mathematics, and scientific method as a political and rhetorical strategy. One cannot successfully build bridges, pilot battleships, or interpret statistical demographic data by abandoning logic and operating from a predetermined set of conclusions. That Sarah is a teacher only underscores her special responsibility to get things right in this area. That's what all of us "Atrios trolls" are harping on, and ignoring us or deleting our posts (as some have suggested) will not invalidate our arguments.

Posted by: turbonium at June 13, 2004 04:08 PM (5qdNU)

73 43% of Americans don't believe polls. 63% of polls are just made up.

Posted by: chsa at June 13, 2004 04:18 PM (Qqmxl)

74 Polls give the media something to say and can be used to manipulate public opinion. We have all been brainwashed into thinking that polls matter by their ubiquity. Even presidents kowtow to them. I guess this is furthur proof that the 'Big Lie' theory isnt one.

Posted by: Michael at June 13, 2004 04:40 PM (JPXoo)

75 Sarah's statistical analysis reminds me of the guy who told me his odds of winning the lottery were great. " Somebody's going to win, and I'm somebody. Unless nobody wins this week, and then I'll double up next week because the jackpot's bigger."

Posted by: Aeolus at June 13, 2004 04:53 PM (qP/XL)

76 As a fellow Atrios "troll", I'd say we _really_ need to step away from the name-calling. Sarah made a fundamental (though regrettably common) mistake about the role played by sampling in the construction of a poll. This makes her unqualified to teach statistics, and wrong about her particular claims, but DOES NOT make her the fair target of humiliation and cruelty. All we are doing when we bludgeon conservatives like Sarah is letting Fox News set the tone. A polarized country is exactly what Bush wants! If we (and here I mean supporters of JK) are to win in November, we'd be wise to reach out to as broad a group as possible. For those we can't reach, we gain nothing by attempting to humiliate them. Sarah, you were wrong about the stats. But we were wrong about the insults.

Posted by: RT at June 13, 2004 05:02 PM (z8M5+)

77 I'm actually HOPING for home schooling on this one.

Posted by: Alsatian at June 13, 2004 05:02 PM (SwTw6)

78 This person is what I spent six years of my life, (1977-1983) in the US Air Force, being willing to lay my life on the line to defend? I have a very good friend who is superintendent of his school district here in NJ, Sarah I think, is the type of teacher, he would have up for termination hearings with the union reps. Sarah for a teacher of any level to not understand basic statistics is very near (in my mind at least) a criminal offense. I will give you all the respect in the world for being here in the states while your husband is 10,000 miles away; however please show me the ability to consider the arguments of those of us that would vastly prefer your husband not being at risk in Iraq, but rather in Afghanistan which harbored the murderous scum. Even the president has been forced to admit on national television that Iraq had NOTHING to do with September 11, 2001. I'll sign off before I go completely postal and, give those of us in the "liberal" east any more of a bad name than the more strident already have.

Posted by: Bubba Bo Bob Brain at June 13, 2004 05:13 PM (4pVZJ)

79 Wow, that is one of the stupidist post I have ever seen on a blog. And you teach? Take a statistics class. Look at the LA times website. You may learn something about polls. Or, maybe just talk to some people about the war in Iraq. You may find there are others who are registered, like me, who were not polled by the LA times, and who feel this war makes our country less safe and needlessly puts our armed forces in danger and threatens their future viability. So I guess according to you, that makes 616 of us.

Posted by: tomboy at June 13, 2004 05:23 PM (iJd4p)

80 Sarah, Please forward your resume. Sincerely, TechCentral Station

Posted by: TechCentralStation at June 13, 2004 05:24 PM (hsIb+)

81 Wow, this is one entertaining thread. Sarah, you were kidding, weren't you. You're post was just tongue-in-cheek, right? Please tell me it was. Because if a teacher of our children has thoughts like this........

Posted by: Far North at June 13, 2004 05:29 PM (Ob4UD)

82 Sarah, It really, really easy for education professionals like you to sort out this polling models stuff. First of all, you could actually go to the LA Times site, and hunt down the poll methodology, which explain to you how random phone numbers are generated. Elsewhere on the web, you could learn about error rates, and how they are extrapolated. But before you do that, WHY DON'T YOU GO TO COLLEGE and get a degree before your destroy the lives of other people's children by your appalling ignorance of something as basic as simple statistical modeling.

Posted by: Nancy Richardson at June 13, 2004 05:30 PM (Or052)

83 My goodness, what a load you've got here in the comments, Sarah. I hope you're ignoring it. Or, if you feel like taking action, go ahead--delete these ridiculous trolls' comments. This blog is your property, not a free-for-all, and these disrespectful idiots--who add no valid insight whatsoever--are trespassers.... Carla Carla, you are not helping Sarah. If she wishes to teach properly, she needs to read these comments and then use the criticism to improve herself. The biggest portion of these comments include information that she should consider. They give ideas on what she should focus on if she intends to be a "good" teacher. If you have an opinion, but you recieve other material that shows you might be wrong, don't you owe it to YOURSELF to educate yourself, as well as others, thoroughly? Do you think it is intelligent to just mouth what others (holding your own ideals) say? Good luck with the education, Sarah. I wish you well. Carla, you might also look into the "validity" of the posted comments. You might do a little research, yourself. It might help you in the future. Have a thoughtful day.

Posted by: oldwhitelady at June 13, 2004 05:44 PM (IyjDO)

84 Carla, You are not doing your friend any favors by encouraging her woeful ignorance regarding statistical analysis. It is not okay to call yourself a teacher and then go about showing how wrong headed you are about something which one would expect a graduate of high school might have an elementary knowledge of. It just isn't okay, And oh, by the way, the Times Poll results have been repeated by two other polls, so it is pretty to assume that finally most Americans have wised up about an expensive cockup Iraq is turning out to be.

Posted by: Nancy Richardson at June 13, 2004 05:50 PM (Or052)

85 Sarah, I was trained as a statistician (bachelor's and master's degrees). You are making common mistakes that many people make about polls. Polls are neither Godlike in their accuracy nor total b.s., like the person in your followup article tries to assert. They tend to be as good as the objectivity of the person or organization conducting them. One should always read polls with a careful eye. Here are some things to look for: Read the questions carefully. Are they worded objectively? People with agendas can word the questions in such a way as to get the results they want. Was the sample a random sample? Deliberately not taking a random sample is one way to skew results. It's also why all self-selecting polls (like internet polls) are unreliable - the respondents have not been selected randomly. What universe was the sample taken from? Likely voters? Registered voters? All citizens? Results are likely to vary for different universes and are generalizable only to the universe they came from. For example, you can't take a sample of "likely" voters and then say that all Americans have the opinions found in the sample - only "likely" voters do. Even with the best practices, something called non-response bias can creep into the results. What this means is that it's possible that the folks selected for the poll who did not respond for one reason or another might have a different pattern of response from those who did respond. A good pollster usually tries to test for this by taking extra pains to collect an additional sample from the initial non-respondents and comparing the results to those of the overall sample. If they're close, then non-response bias is unlikely to be an issue. Sampling is not a perfect science, but the results from reputable organizations are usually accurate, as long as one understands just what they represent.

Posted by: gemini at June 13, 2004 06:07 PM (Ppd3O)

86 sarah, just ignore those condescending name-callers. they're not interested in any valid debate or information. i haven't ever seen such idiotic comments anywhere.

Posted by: chris at June 13, 2004 06:12 PM (pDL6x)

87 Christ. It goes from bad to worse. Sarah--obviously feeling a little besieged--cites Steven Den Beste in an attempt to say that all polls are 'irrelevant.' Well, Den Beste may be qualified to pick out 12 of his favorite donuts at Dunkin Donuts--but not much else. Polling is used not just by political campaigns (imagine Sarah's dismay to learn the Bush/Cheney campaign spends millions on what Sarah deems 'irrelevant') but by businesses and virtually every organization which has a stake in public attitudes. Moreover, forms of polling (statistcal inference) are used as quality assurance for just about every manufacturing, engineering, and technical company. But Sarah and the ever-unemployed Den Beste know it's all a waste and irrelevant.

Posted by: Jadegold at June 13, 2004 06:14 PM (hDe/Q)

88 Idiotic, Chris? Did you read her original post?

Posted by: tomboy at June 13, 2004 06:15 PM (iJd4p)

89 You are a teacher??? Kindergarten maybe. If you have convinced yourself that the poll is innaccurate based on your "logic" above I suggest you go back to school and take some refresher courses on statistics. You are woefully ignorant and self delusional in any case. One thing I got from your post however is how interesting it is to see how the other side rationalizes in order to feel better about this mess.

Posted by: Bruce H Lee at June 13, 2004 06:20 PM (coAmw)

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