[lit-ideas] Re: interaction of polls and public opinion

  • From: John Wager <john.wager1@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 24 Oct 2006 19:22:46 -0500

Eric Yost wrote:

Is there any research into how publicizing polls alters the outcome of future polls?

If people watch televised poll results that indicate 30 percent of the public believes X, will that cause an upward shift in the percentage who believe X? Is there a critical polling mass (50 percent? 60 percent?) when a polled opinion about X multiplies itself? And how does the frequency of publicizing polls alter future polled opinion?

"Man is always more than he can know about himself." --Karl Jaspers.

What we know changes what we know. Suppose it DID turn out that a study showed that the "critical polling mass" is 30%. That was ONLY true before we knew that the "critical polling mass" was 30%. Now that SOME people DO know that, there is probably a point (revealed by a "critical study of critical polling mass") where the percentage of people who know about the 30% figure will change the "critical poling mass." Say if 10% of the people know that at 30% the polling numbers are affected, that produces a change so that now __40%__ of the polling numbers have to be in agreement before we see the predicted change, because we knew that the predicted change would happen at 30% __IF__ we didn't know that the figure was 30%. Of course now we need to do a study to see how the information we got from the "critical study of the critical polling mass" affects the "critical study of the critical polling mass" percentages. The 40% figure is only good if we don't know that it's 40%; once a critical mass of people __DO__ know that it's now 40%, it will probably shift in one direction or another. So we have to do a "critical study of the critical study of the critical polling mass" to see what the new percentage is. And then, of course, we have to do a study of the study of the ......

"Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence and ignorance." -------------------------------------------------
John Wager john.wager1@xxxxxxxxxxx
Lisle, IL, USA

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