Deceptive AAPOR Evaluation of 2016 Election Polls

The 2016 election polls were inaccurate, predicting a win for Email-Server-Hillary, whereas Mussolini-Arpaio-Trump prevailed and now is the Oval Office One.  But pollsters, because they’re addicted to asking, are seldom able to admit their mistakes.  Instead, they try to deceive by putting  a positive gloss on their failures.  In the newsletter below, “AAPOR Releases Evaluation of 2016 Election Polls”, which I received from a university survey research center, I indicate in bold the deception and in brackets [ ], bold, and italics my comment on it.

No. 92

AAPOR Releases Evaluation of 2016 Election Polls

On May 4, the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) released its much anticipated report concerning the accuracy of 2016 national and state election polls in the U.S. Key conclusions from that report include:

“National polls were generally correct and accurate  [generally? “Generally” is not accepted in social SCIENCE.  In science we need to know which specific polls, and how many of them, were correct and accurate, and which ones, and how many, were not] by historical standards”  [The standard for scientific correctness and accuracy is correspondence with reality, not what pollsters accepted historically, in the past, for correctness and accuracy.

“State-level polls showed a competitive, uncertain contest [this is a positive gloss on state-level polls that attempts to mute the following comment that these polls under-estimated Mussolini-Trump’s support] but clearly under-estimated Trump’s support in the Upper Midwest”  [A non-deceptive statement would read: State-level polls clearly under-estimated Trump’s support in the Upper Midwest.]

There were multiple reasons why the polls under-estimated support for Trump,[Yeah! Non-deceptive statement] including:

“Real late change in voter preference during the final week of the campaign”

Adjustments for over-representation of college graduates was necessary, but many polls failed to do so [Yeah! Non-deceptive statement]

“Some Trump voters who participated in pre-election polls did not reveal themselves as Trump voters until after the election, and they out-numbered late-revealing Clinton supporters” [Yeah! Non-deceptive statement]

“Ballot order effects may have played a role in some state contests, but they do not go far in explaining the polling errors” [Yeah! Non-deceptive statement]

Predictions that Clinton had a very high probability of winning “helped crystalize the erroneous belief that Clinton was a shoo-in for president, with unknown consequences for turnout” [Yeah! Non-deceptive statement]

A spotty year for election polls [A non-deceptive comment would read: The 2016 presidential election polls failed to predict the winner is not an indictment of all survey research or even all polling” [Failure IS an indictment!  A non-deceptive statement would read: Failure of the 2016 presidential election to predict the winner is another one of the many examples of the unreliability of  polling]

For a complete assessment of polling and other forms of survey research, see my book, THE PROBLEM WITH SURVEY RESEARCH. 

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My Open Internet Problem-Solving Networks Similar to Facebook Groups/”communities”

I am working on a manuscript, Problem-Solving via the Internet: An Alternative to Nation-States, Governments, and Politics in which open Internet problem-solving networks (e.g., Wikipedia, Peer-to-Patent) are presented as the most efficient and effective institutions to solve problems, now that we’re in in what I call the  Internet+ Age.   (By “Internet+” I mean the Internet plus (+) attendant hardware (e.g., smartphones) and software (e.g., the cloud, Google))

In the Chicago Tribune article below, Facebook Groups/”communities”, as described by Mark Zuckerberg, are similar to my open Internet problem-solving networks.  (I have bolded the most appropriate sentences.)


Facebook mission: Society building
CEO Zuckerberg aims to fight ills with virtual communities

Robert Reed
Dressed in his signature solid-color T-shirt and jeans, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg came to Chicago on Thursday and outlined the start of a new chapter in the social network’s life.
Before describing his plan during a West Loop conference for a few hundred invited Facebook devotees, Zuckerberg disarmingly addressed the crowd with a couple of personal asides.
“Before we get started, I want to introduce myself. I’m Mark,” he said, prompting a chorus of chuckles and cheers from the attendees, who seemed to get a kick out of the tech billionaire’s smiling self-effacement.
That warm reception continued as Zuckerberg’s keynote speech went on to include big-screen Facebook photos of his young daughter, the family’s pet puli dog and his dad, who is recovering from heart surgery.
Having attended my share of CEO presentations, I can attest that Zuckerberg’s speaking style is unexpectedly open and welcoming. A young man of medium height and build, Zuckerberg comes across as conversational and extemporaneous — traits that are too rarely found among other senior-level corporate executives.
Of course, it would have been fun to see if he was the same during the give-and-take of a news conference. But Zuckerberg’s handlers kept him at arm’s length from the media, stressing that the CEO would not be taking reporters’ questions.
That’s too bad, because the flip side to Zuckerberg’s warm and fuzzy comments is a new, hard-nosed business strategy that deserves examination.
At the event, his narrative was about building communities and expanding Facebook’s basic user experience and approach.

In the next decade, the network will strive to build an untold number of virtual Facebook “communities” that rally groups of people locally and globally. Already there are ones that include new mothers, disabled veterans and even locksmiths.

There are many more to come.

Although Facebook community members may not know each other personally, they’ll increasingly opt to gather around a common interest, belief or problem that needs to be solved, Zuckerberg contends.

“In the next generation, our greatest opportunities and challenges we can only take on together — ending poverty, curing disease, stopping climate change, . . . stopping terrorism, ” Zuckerberg said.

To expedite this process, Facebook is providing a new virtual “toolbox” to help leaders of current and new “communities” manage posts, accept new members and get rid of people who are disruptive to a community site.

From there it gets a little fuzzy.
Still to be determined is the related business course of action for Facebook, which became a publicly traded company nearly five years ago and has a market capitalization of $446 billion.
Facebook declined to discuss with me the business side of the new community mission, opening the way for outside speculation.
Here goes:
From a public relations standpoint, this new approach may help Facebook beat back criticism of not acting quickly or decisively enough during the last election cycle to curb fake news or extremist posts.
It could also help Facebook tee up some new advertising opportunities. The formation of these highly targeted groups could prove attractive to major advertisers looking to connect with the likes of working parents, sports fans or folks coping with certain medical conditions or habits.
“This strategy could help advertisers target the consumers possibly more accurately, which could increase ad revenues,” Ali Mogharabi, equity analyst at Morningstar, wrote to me in an email after the Facebook event.
There’s also industry talk of Facebook being interested in backing some long-form programming, similar to the shows being produced by Amazon and Netflix.
Perhaps these communities can help advance that programming approach?
This year, Zuckerberg has been traveling the country — notably the Midwest — seeking out the counsel of community, business and political leaders.
I surmise it’s a fact-finding tour away from the inevitable insulation of Facebook’s headquarters campus in Silicon Valley.
Where will all this travel ultimately take Facebook? That’s not clear yet.
Still, this week’s visit to Chicago shows the casually dressed but hard-charging Zuckerberg is definitely a man on the go.
Twitter @reedtribbiz

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Effects of World Wide Web

“passing laws changes little, or takes a generation or longer to have effect.  Deep changes to people’s lives can be made almost instantly, however, by the introduction a new technology that everyone wants. . . . [T]he world wide web . . . has had far greater influence on the world than Teresa May, Vladimir Putin or Angela Merkel ever will.  The engine of history is engines”.  Adrian Bowyer.

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Question Wording, Change in Wording, and Rosa’s Law

Question wording affects answers.   The first sentence in the comment below (No. 85 Rosa’s Law and Surveys) is an acknowledgement of this fundamental flaw in survey research:  “Question wording plays a critical role in [affecting] how respondents . . . answer . . .  questions.”

However, the main point of #85 is about change in wording: “Survey researchers . . . should be aware of this change [in wording from mentally retardation before Rosa’s Law to intellectual disability after the Law was passed in 2010] and the possible implications for prevalence estimates, particularly if data from before and after 2010 are being compared or combined”, rather than the fundamental issue of  question wording.  Regardless of whether or not changes are made in question wording–actually regardless of how questions are wordedQUESTION WORDING AFFECTS ANSWERS.  And there’s no way–no way!–to word questions so that questions don’t affect/skew/bias  answer.

Answers obtained are results of questions asked.  That is, words in questions “manufacture” answers; they can “create”, actually bring into existence, “opinions [and other objects of investigation]that might not otherwise be evident.”  Answers aren’t “out there”, so to speak, and then questions find them; rather, questions make answers.

See also:

Question Wording Makes Answers Unreliable

Question Wording Affects/Biases/Skews Answers

Question Wording Skews Answers

Question Wording and Stated Opinions

The Problem with Survey Research

and Counter Literature to Survey Research


“No. 85
Rosa’s Law and Surveys about Disabilities

Question wording plays a critical role in how respondents interpret and answer survey questions. Question wording in surveys can change over time in response to advances in questionnaire design, changes in society or culture, or changes in definitions. This is particularly true when survey researchers are using terminology that is associated with a medical diagnosis or legal definition.

One such change occurred in 2010 when President Obama signed a law in October 2010. Known as Rosa’s Law, this legislation required the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability.” The law is named after Rosa Marcellino, a girl with Downs Syndrome who was nine years old when it became law, and who, according to President Barack Obama, “worked with her parents and her siblings to have the words ‘mentally retarded’ officially removed from the health and education code in her home state of Maryland.” Rosa’s Law is part of a series of modifications to terminology – beginning in the early 1990s – that have been used to describe persons with what we now refer to as intellectual disabilities.

One result of this law is that federal surveys such as the National Health Interview Survey changed the terminology used in survey questions from asking about “mental retardation” to asking about “intellectual disability, also known as mental retardation.” Survey researchers using the NHIS data on intellectual disabilities should be aware of this change and the possible implications for prevalence estimates, particularly if data from before and after 2010 are being compared or combined. In addition, researchers who are designing surveys that measure intellectual disabilities may want to use terminology and question wording that is consistent with federal guidelines.”

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Fear of Death Drives Belief in Religion

Fear of death drives belief in religion.  This is a main point in Tom Stoppard’s new play, “The Hard Problem”, which I’ve reviewed on Amazon.  Here’s the review, with a link to a related study, as well as comments about “love” and “hate”.

Tom Stoppard’s The Hard Problem is a thespian presentation of the debate between materialists who affirm the scientific/biological/genetic foundation of all things human—including feelings (love), hopes, beliefs—and those who, because they don’t understand and fear death, posit a non-materialist reality:
Hilary (non-materialist) “But you need something for it [things we believe are right or wrong, say cruelty] to be true, some kind of overall moral intelligence. . . .[S]omewhere between apemen and the beginning of religion, we became aware of an enormous fact we didn’t understand.”
Spike (materialist) “We did. Its name was death.” (p. 51)For a complete statement of the scientific/biological foundations of all things human, see Anthony Walsh, Biosociology, Biosociology: Bridging the Biology-Sociology Divide which I’ve also reviewed on Amazon.

I’ve given both books 4 stars rather than 5 because, consistent with the scientific/biological foundations of all things human, only mothers “love” their children. No one else “loves” anybody or anything else.  No one actually “loves” a book. Thus, “love” should be removed from Amazon’s book rating scale

“Hate” should also be removed from Amazon’s book rating scale. No one should “hate” anything, or anybody. No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems.


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Does Having Sex Boost Work Performance?

According to survey researchers in The Journal of Management, married people who have sexual intercourse at night have increase work performance at their offices the next day.  This may or may not be true because the research is based on self-reports (in this case 2 week daily diaries) and when all you have is what people say there’s no way–absolutely no way!–to know if what is said is correct or incorrect.  All that can be concluded from these diaries is that people who say they had sexual intercourse at night also say they had increased work performance the following day.  And as everyone knows, what people say may, or may not, correspond to what they actually do.  Soooo, if you want to find out what’s really going on in the bedroom, office, or anywhere else, DON’T ASK.  That’s the theme of my book, The Problem with Survey Research, in which I also discuss in Part Six proper methods of data collection and proper research designs, such as observation, experiments, and so on.

See also my post: Survey Research and Sex.

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Internet+ Effects: Declining Significance of Nation-State and Government

The 21st century—certainly since 2007 with the emergence of the smartphone and cloud computing—is the Internet+ Age; a time in which the Internet, with attendant hardware (e.g., computers, smartphones, and sensors) and software (e.g., the cloud, Google, and  apps), dominates all aspects of human life and activity, including the nation-state and government. Internet+ prevails because its omnipresence and effects make it the most efficient way to acquire, increase, improve, and use information which, in contrast to previous times, is a more important resource for solving problems in production, retail, journalism, banking and finance, healthcare, education, communication, governance, as well as for solving problems in science, mathematics, sports, human relations, and in any other activity.  As Werk, updating Marx, phrases it: “first land, then capital, now information”.

The nation-state, said to be sovereign, and usually revered (“god bless America” comes to mind) is, in fact, not sovereign.  Its power within its own territory is, and has always been, less than total, secondary in many matters, and less in the remainder is shocking—and, even scary—only to those (a declining number, thankfully) deluded by the Westphalian fiction of nation-state sovereignty, initially concocted in 1648 by Henri II d’Orléans, duc de Longueville, and other no-longer-eminences in the Treaty of Westphalia. The non-duped know that nation-states never have unlimited power—but always depend on, and share power with, other institutions, organized interests, and individuals inside and outside the nation’s specified geographical area.

Even more than a thousand years before Henri and friends phrased the Westphalian fantasy, it was understood that the state’s power was curtailed by, often reliant on and, in some circumstances, overwhelmed by the power of the institutional church. It’s also documented and acknowledged that the power of the nation-state is usually significantly reduced when not superseded by economic factors, conditions, and developments.

Today, the nation-state is known to be a mixture, not of any two powers, but of many and that production processes (e.g., manufacturing) and institutions, such as corporations and banks, within the state’s borders, as well as numerous other internal non-state actors (interest groups, thirty-one types of 501 organizations, professional associations, and so on) restrict their actions. In addition, external forces, such as globalization, external non-state actors—for instance, transnational corporations—and most significantly, technological developments, such as computers and the Internet, make the nation-state an obstacle to solving problems, vulnerable, contribute to its collapse and, in many important matters, reduce it to irrelevancy.

The manifestation and actor of the nation-state, government—traditionally relied on for problem solving (and much more)—is another institution in the Internet Age as irrelevant as the nation-state. Its power and, thus, actual significance, are reduced by the same sorts of developments that preclude nation-state sovereignty, including, and most recently, the Internet. Government is at odds with our electronic, global, reality and has become an obsolete “horse and buggy” institution.

More specifically, government processes, structures, and personnel are not suited to obtain the amount and type of information required for problem-solving. The information that’s need is online but  because governments can acquire, at best, only a part of it, they suffer from information deficit.

Governments are also deficient because they are losing capacity—e.g., sufficiently qualified personnel—to perform. They contract out, privatize, and join with other organizations for functions and programs they formerly performed mostly by themselves. Although governments do less than they used to, they’ve never acted alone, never had the capacity to adequately deal with issues and problems. What’s new today is that the universal scope and penetration of the Internet have made the ineffectiveness of governments more extensive and more clearly recognized.

Even governments based on popular elections and representation cannot do what needs to be done, for example concerning environmental destruction. “The atmosphere has no vote in the next US election” depicts government’s inadequacy on this issue. Representative institutions, such as the US Congress, are  “out of business”.  Actually. it’s been known for years that “the era of representative [government] was drawing to a close”. (Kavanagh, Times Literary Supplement, 2001)  Nor can representative governments increase taxes to fund needed environmental or other programs because they’ll be voted out of office if they try. No taxation without representation has been replaced by no taxation. Intakes from user fees, lotteries, bake sales, and online philanthropy make up for some budget losses, but are always short for problem solving.

Also waning are voting and electoral systems that determine membership in legislatures, chief executive offices, and numerous courts. Voting is, at best “anemic” and, actually, superfluous in reference to problem solving; it’s just playing in the electoral sandbox, and, as Jaffe editorializes, “[w]ith each day, it is harder to see how the vote of a citizen—or an elected official—makes much of a difference”.  Many agree and now habitually do not vote. Political parties join the ranks of the mostly irrelevant, in part because of rampant nonvoting, but also because the Internet has become the more effective way for politicos to garner votes and money.

Government laws and regulations, court decisions, executive orders, and all other official pronouncements, edicts, and rules decline in effectiveness. They can’t keep up with technological developments: “Talented engineers [technologists]”, says Rusbridger, “will always be ahead of the laws”. The same is true for government oversight. Governments can’t effectively oversee even when they want to (which, in many cases, they don’t) because they lack sufficient and relevant information, as well as technological understanding.

In the Internet+ Age, all aspects of government and everything associated with politics, including protest and activism, are of declining significance for problem-solving. “Politics”, McLuhan points out, “offers yesterday’s answers to today’s questions” and although some “answers” generated by political processes and governments result in modicums of amelioration, politics is about power and the rewards of office; including, of course, money, and government–we need to remember–is not primarily about solving problems but, rather, promoting policies that generate support for government officials.

We shouldn’t rely on government, elections, demonstrations, and the like to solve problems.  Rather, we need to build open Internet networks that focus on solving the problems we’re interested in.  A few examples of open Internet problem-solving networks are: Wikipedia, Peer-to Patent, Zooniverse, and, InnoCentive.

As the Stones tuned, You Gotta Move–to the Internet–if you’re going to solve problems.




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