Monday, June 29, 2009

Fooled by the Irish Examiner

I saw this article this morning and thought it was something. The headline is pretty eye-catching in itself - "Majority would oppose Papal visit, finds poll" - but the rest of the article is just as certain. Newstalk carried out a poll, which found that 51% of "the public" is opposed to a visit by the Pope.

That may well be true, but the Irish Examiner left out a fact that was included in the Irish Independent's report on the same poll: it was an online survey. Uggh. Read this from the Examiner's report.
The poll, carried out by Newstalk radio, found that 51% of 1,108 people questioned would not welcome Pope Benedict if he were to put an Irish trip on his itinerary any time soon.
I thought it was a proper poll with an appropriate attempt at selecting a representative sample of the population. A poll conducted via Newstalk's web site is open to all sorts of non-random selection issues.

Are Newstalk's listeners representative of the nation as a whole? Are those who are online representative of the nation as a whole? Are those who are motivated to respond to such a poll representative of the nation as a whole? Can those who do respond do so more than once?

For all I know the poll is an accurate reflection of the views of the nation, but if it is that's just pure dumb luck. And, I'm not criticizing Newstalk becuase I have no idea how they presented their poll and its findings. The Irish Examiner, however, clearly misrepresented what the poll was.

Worse than that, they fooled me and I included this nonsense on the Newshound today. For that reason I'm angry.