Thursday, November 10, 2016

Enough with the Pseudo-Social-Scientific Exit Poll Demographic Tea Leaf Sophistry Already!

Did you know that 41% of voters with incomes under $50,000 and 53% of white women voters smoke camels? Neither did I. But there appears to be a trend.

People who may or may not have taken an introductory sociology course and may or may not know how to read a map nevertheless appear to place great faith in the explanatory power of some number that somebody posted in a tweet. I would call it a random number, except that random number has a precise technical meaning. So do the the pseudo-scientific demographic insights that emerge from exit polls. The technical definition of the latter is data junk.

Would you like to learn how to lose at bean bag? It's easy if you try:

  • First, imagine you are playing eleven-dimensional chess. 
  • Second, let "data" determine your next move. 
  • Third, define "data" as some number you saw on twitter.
  • Fourth, if all else fails, concede.
Politics is not beanbag.

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