Polling We Can’t Believe In

I think a post-election Gallup tracking poll is really what we don’t need. If this past election revealed anything, it’s that all too many people don’t grasp the concept of “random variation” in this kind of thing. But suffice it to say that if you do a poll of roughly Gallup’s size and take a three day rolling average, you wind up generating all sorts of neat-looking vaguely sinusoidal curves that people then dream up narratives to “explain.” The whole thing’s a waste of time, and ultimate does more to misinform people than to help them understand the world.