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Statistics For Dummies®, 2nd Edition by Deborah J. Rumsey

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Chapter 16

Polls, Polls, and More Polls

In This Chapter

  • Realizing the impact of polls and surveys
  • Going behind the scenes of polls and surveys
  • Detecting biased and inaccurate survey results

Surveys are all the rage amid today's information explosion. Everyone wants to know how the public feels about issues from prescription drug prices and methods of disciplining children to approval ratings of the president and ratings of reality TV shows. Polls and surveys are a big part of American life; they're a vehicle for quickly getting information about how you feel, what you think, and how you live your life, and they're a means of quickly disseminating information about important issues. Surveys highlight controversial topics, raise awareness, make political points, stress the importance of an issue, and educate or persuade the public.

images Survey results can be powerful, because when many people hear that “such and such percentage of the American people do this or that,” they accept these results as the truth, and then make decisions and form opinions based on that information. But in fact, many surveys don't provide correct, complete, or even fair or balanced information.

In this chapter, I discuss the impact of surveys and how they're used, and I take you behind the scenes of how surveys are designed and conducted so you know what to watch for when examining survey results and how ...

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