Monday, August 23, 2010

The parable of the polls

1. And it came to pass in the days of Gillard the Prime Minister and Abbott the Opposition Leader that three Opinion Polls stood in judgment over the land. 2. And lo! for a certain percentage of people were satisfied with the current form of Government, but a certain percentage of people were NOT; and the percentage that were not satisfied were greater than the percentage that WERE. And the Opinion Polls reflected this, with great prudence and wise judgments. 3. And there was great dissension and trouble through the land. 4. And people began to cast about saying, 'what can we do to save our DEMOCRACY? For surely if we do not, then the land will be troubled and famine and pestilence will follow soon after.' 5. And the Opinion Polls did say, 'a certain percentage of people are dissatisfied with the current form of Government, and a certain percentage that is significantly greater than the first percentage are NOT.' And they did further say, 'a certain percentage of people are dissatisfied with being dissatisfied, and a certain percentage of people that is significantly smaller than this, are NOT dissatisfied with their dissatisfaction.' 6. And the people bowed their heads to the wisdom of the Opinion Polls.

1. And therefore the Opinion Polls asked the people, SHOULD WE run for the leadership of THIS LAND? For verily, the prophets saith, we reflect the people's opinions better than the people themselves. 2. And the Opinion Polls did say, 'on a scale of one to ten, ten being 'STRONGLY APPROVE', and one being 'STRONGLY DISAPPROVE'', what do you think of us becoming LEADER and ruling over the LAND? 3. And the people did respond to the Opinion Polls. And some did say, '10', and some did say '1', and some did say a figure that was in between '1' and '10', yea, verily, some did even say a figure that was either higher or lower than '1' or '10'. Howsoever, these brethren were disqualified for statistical purposes. 4. But YEA, when all the opinions of the people were counted and weighed up, MORE people STRONGLY APPROVED of the proposition that the Opinion Polls should become LEADER of the LAND than those who STRONGLY DISAPPROVED. 5. And so it came to pass that the Opinion Polls did become Prime Minister and ruled over all the LAND. 6. And the people rejoiced.

1. And the Opinion Polls did rule over the LAND for many years, and some people were satisfied with their leadership, and other people were dissatisfied. 2. But the politicians bowed their heads down to the Opinion Polls, and the newspapers bowed their heads down to the Opinion Polls, and the people did say, 'Oh well. They are only reflecting public opinion after all'. And their reign continued. 3. And every week the Opinion Polls would call a certain randomly selected group of people and ask of them, 'DO YOU STRONGLY AGREE, AGREE, NEITHER AGREE OR DISAGREE, DISAGREE, or STRONGLY DISAGREE that we should accept more refugees in our society', or 'THIS WEATHER IS SOMEWHAT UNSEASONABLE. Do you think it is caused by climate change? YES OR NO.' And the randomly selected people would respond. 4. And all agreed that the Opinion Polls were a wise and just ruler that reflected, in a statistical manner, their own opinions, if not all or a good deal of, then at least some of the time. 5. But in the latter years of their reign, the Opinion Polls began to ask strange questions, such as 'DO YOU LIKE WOMEN IN GREEN HATS? Please answer with a YES or a NO.' Or 'DO YOU STRONGLY AGREE, AGREE, NEITHER AGREE NOR DISAGREE, DISAGREE, or STRONGLY DISAGREE that YES OR NO questions on the question of 1 TO 10 questions on the issue of LEADERSHIP STABILITY reflect the opinions of the electorate? Please select A, B, or C.' And all of the people, save for the small proportion of theoretical statisticians, were somewhat puzzled. 6. And BEHOLD, then one day a GREAT TIDAL WAVE arose and drowned the entire south of Australia. And it was a disaster that had not been seen before or since. 7. And the Opinion Polls did say, 'DO YOU SAY YES or NO to the proposition that STRONGLY AGREEING, AGREEING, NEITHER AGREEING NOR DISAGREEING, DISAGREEING, STRONGLY DISAGREEING with 1 to 10 questions on a TWO PARTY PREFERRED BASIS are NEITHER SATISFYING NOR UNSATISFYING to WOMEN IN GREEN HATS.' 8. And even the theoretical statisticians, or statistical theoreticians, or whosoever else is supposed to be able to understand Opinion Polls, were somewhat puzzled. 9. And thousands of people died, which they found somewhat dissatisfying. 10. And the people did not rejoice. And they did vote the Opinion Polls out at the coming election.

1. And the Opinion Polls did weep and wail and lament and rend their hair and gnash their teeth. 2. And the people rejoiced again. 3. And all was well. 4. Apart of course from all those people who died. 5. But they were too dead to care much. 6. This is the parable of the polls.


Attila said...


TimT said...

Thanks old chap. Yer blood's worth bottlin'...

Email: timhtrain - at -

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