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« Illegal Immigrants Come and Go | Main | How to Manipulate a Poll »

It's Not a "Margin of Error"

"News" Media All Knows This

It's just a measure of the sample size

But it sure sounds better to suggest --
there is a measure of accuracy and it's known.

That's a smokescreen.
No, make that, a lie.

Because of the way the science of statistics is done, the size of a sample controls how reliable certain aspects of averaging will be. That's not exactly accurate, but it's close enough for this short description. We're dealing with polls you see in "news" media that pretend to declare their accuracy by stating a margin of error. That's hard core fake news. They don't accept that. They continue unabashed. To unfake it, they would swap in, "This poll had a sample size of 450." But that would serve no purpose. So they stay with the fake.

You can convert the fake into their sample size with this chart, but so what, it gets you nothing. What the poll tells you is 100% dependent on factors they can manipulate to their heart's content to get the result they seek, and you know that -- who they ask, how they ask, when they ask, why they ask. Blatant examples abound. That said, there is a science of polling, and people frequently do want to get a legit handle on what's going on, before it happens, and it can be done with loose certainty. But you already know that a poll run by democrats on abortion will show strong support, and the same poll run by republicans will not.

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About the Author

  • Freelance writer Alan Korwin is a founder and past president of the Arizona Book Publishing Association. With his wife Cheryl he operates Bloomfield Press, the largest producer and distributor of gun-law books in the country. Here writing as "The Uninvited Ombudsman," Alan covers the day's stories as they ought to read. Read more.

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