A recent headline caught my eye. “Nearly half of American Jews believe Israel is being used as a political tool by U.S. lawmakers.”
It’s news that people think American lawmakers use Israel as a political tool? Geez. Considering American leaders use everything from soldiers, children, unborn babies and windmills as political tools, what makes you think Israel is different?
However, it’s not the message of the headline that bothers me as much as the insinuation that someone called every Jew in the U.S., just to ask if they thought American lawmakers use Israel as a political tool.
No, I’m not so naive as to believe someone called every Jew in the U.S. I know how this works. Statistics mavens, otherwise known as pollsters, otherwise known as dudes that ain’t above using dubious numbers to sway public opinion, called a certain number of U.S. Jews, and their scientific questioning protocol created a situation wherein they were able to play with the numbers enough to make it look like almost half of the Jews in America believe something.
Which is why I’m not a fan of statistics and polls. Polls and statistics are regularly used to pressure and/or cajole us to do things and believe things corporations and dubious leaders want us to do and believe.
Yes sir, nine out of 10 consumers prefer a certain product, a “vast majority,” believes the nonsense a dubious leader is trying to pander. (“Vast majority,” being the phrase they use to really pour on the old peer pressure. “You don’t want to be different from the vast majority, now do you?”)
Pundits, wonks and their ilk also like to use statistics to ‘prove’ the points they’re trying to make. “90% of the American people favor universal background checks.” “The majority of the people side with me on this particular issue.” “Studies show the vast majority of the people believe the point I’m trying to make here.”
Here’s my rule of thumb whenever someone cites polls, studies or other statistics to get me to do or believe something: I ask a simple question: “According to whom?”
In other words, I refuse to believe what studies show just on the basis of someone saying, “studies show.” What studies? Who did these studies? What were the circumstances of these studies? Were the people involved in the study seeking objective results or were they trying to provide affirmation to a pre-conceived notion? Or worse, were they merely trying to compile numbers so as to press the old peer-pressure button? You know: The vast majority of the people we questioned believed what I was saying, and if you don’t that means you don’t think like everyone else, and how dare you be different?
And that’s not even taking political election polls into consideration.
(Oh, geez, don’t even get me started with election polls.)
Actually, election polls are eerily accurate. Yes, most polls showed that Hillary Clinton would win the last presidential election, but the undeniable fact is she won the popular vote by the margins shown in most polls.
The problem was, no one bothered to look at individual state polls, and had people actually done that, the narrative before the election probably would’ve been considerably different.
All of which has been my long-winded way of reiterating my regular plea to make all political election polling illegal. There should be only one poll that counts, and if we’re going to have a popular election, let’s find out who won the old fashioned way: By counting actual votes.
Besides, polls leading up to the election more often than not serve no purpose but to discourage the people on the losing end of the polls from bothering to vote, so it could be argued polls create their own results, which isn’t good for anyone.
Tell me we all wouldn’t be much better off for it.
(Note: I was going to write an epic poem about impeachment, but I couldn’t find words that rhymes with “impeachment” or “quid pro quo.’ Maybe next week …)
Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.