Sunday, November 13, 2016

Lies of the Mind

                            Image result for lies

The thunderbolt from the blue that was the election of Donald Trump has shaken so many Americans to the core. The country was told, over and over, that there was no way that it could happen. Polls were showing reams of statistics that "proved" that a Donald Trump presidency was as unlikely as the appearance of a black swan.

How could it be that everyone was so wrong? The only explanation that chastened pollsters could come up with was "We got it wrong." Oh, gee, thanks.

The "science" of polling is much like a sausage factory. You don't want to see how it's made, you just want the finished product. All manner of "adjustments" and "smoothing" are applied to raw numbers that are themselves highly random and ultimately representative of a pool of people that clearly don't represent anyone else but themselves. The idea that a small group of people can help to extrapolate the ideas, beliefs and actions of larger groups has been shown to be a fallacy. Yet, we have a huge industry and infrastructure dedicated to the furtherance of this fallacy. A whole lot of folks make a whole lot of money from polling.

We were told that President Obama has a high approval rating. The reality is that nay not be so. Exit polls give the pollsters data to explain events, but why should they have any more validity than any other poll? Who believes that those polled, a small subset of a much larger group are representative of the larger group? Who is to say that they are being truthful with the pollsters?

I never participate in polls. When the phone rings, if it is an unfamiliar number. I usually ignore it. If I even answer, and a disembodied voice answers that they are taking a poll, half the time it's just a come on for some kind of sales pitch, be it solar panels or Florida timeshares. If it's a political call, it might be just a partisan campaigner trash talking their opponent. Who could possibly wish to sift through this morass to participate in a telephone poll on the "issues of the day"? And to what end? The replies obtained in this way are as unreliable as any other bit of data could be that is collected in such a scattershot way.

We are lied to everyday. Most folks learn this as they live their lives and mature as they do. We become inured to it. We are largely unaffected because we don't believe most of the lies. The lies that hurt are the ones that are believed and shown to be wrong.

We were told that the United States is a moral country, that Americans were a generous and honest people that are basically good. We were told the President Obama is a very popular figure. We were told that Donald Trump couldn't or wouldn't win. In a society that runs on lies, boy, those last three really hurt.

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