Sunday, June 12, 2005

Problems with Polling

I came across this poll on CNN's home page Friday and sent it over to Mark Hurst for his This Is Broken site:

See the problem? Later that day they got it right:

Or did they?

I'd argue they still didn't get it right, and that this question suffers from the same problem many online polls do.

You'd have to add some additional choices in order for this poll to be accurate, e.g. C) both D) neither and potentially some additional more specific selections. Otherwise, as polls often do, you're presented with a fallacy of limited options. Here, you can only choose one one thing or another. Arguably, the scenario isn't as bad here as elsewhere, though, as many people taking the poll may feel comfortable assigning motivation to one of the two choices, politics or principles.

A great example of this fallacy (or propaganda technique) is how the Bush administration has presented the problem with social security. They present a crisis (another propaganda technique: creating a crisis) and reduce what may be a myriad of solutions to only two choices: A) leave it as it is (bad) or B) privatize (good). Behold, the fallacy of limited options.

As commenters over at This Is Broken pointed out, there are additional problems with the poll, too, including the spacing and alignment of the radio buttons, etc.

I seldom talk about work on this blog, but this is related to the sort of thing I do: presenting and arranging information so it's intuitive and easy for end users to navigate.

No comments: