"Memo to media, science museums, homo ‘sapiens’: Enough with the online polls!"
Especially the poorly worded ones
First, of course, please vote in yet another Economist online poll with biased wording, “This house believes that innovation works best when government does least.”
Two weeks ago it was another poorly worded Economist poll, “This house believes that creating green jobs is a sensible aspiration for governments” (see “You can support Van Jones and clean energy jobs“).
Then, of course, the US News pitted me vs. Big Oil on climate science with the triply biased, “Did Climategate Expose Global Warming Fears as Unfounded?” I guess you can keep voting on that one forever (click here)!
Of course, you can vote for Climate Progress every day through April 2 at Treehugger (click here — you know you want to).
Oh, and let’s not forget that online voting made WattsUpWithThat the 2008 Weblog awards winner for “best science blog” (!) — see “Weblog Awards duped by anti-science disinformers “” again!”
And, of course, Watts freeped the London Science Museum poll and claims he helped persuade them to consider dumbing down their Big-Oil-funded climate exhibit. A commenter noted the voting on the question was bifurcated between those who attended the exhibit gallery and those who voted on the web. The “question” was “I’ve seen the evidence. And I want the government to prove they’re serious about climate change by negotiating a strong effective fair deal at Copenhagen.” And yes, that question also seems worded to get a certain outcome. Here’s the voting on “Count me in” vs. “Count me Out”:
Gallery Counted in = 3408 Counted out = 626
Web Counted in = 2650 Counted out = 7612
Total Counted in = 6058 Counted out = 8238
I understand why the websites do it — they want to drive up traffic, which translates into ad revenues and maybe ongoing readers.
The problem of course is that these polls are meaningless and unscientific, wholly gamable by whichever group decides to put the biggest effort into online voting. Yet, since the results are visible for millions to see, and have the imprimatur of credible organizations like The Economist and USNews and the London science Museum, the parties involved have little choice but to participate in the charade.
I am, however, relatively confident that frogs — even slowly boiling brainless frogs — do not subject themselves to online polls. Maybe they aren’t so dumb after all.