May Contain Blueberries

the sometimes journal of Jeremy Beker

7 out of 10 Americans believe the health care law is unconstitutional.


7 out of 10 Americans believe the health care law is unconstitutional.

This quote was in an article on Morning Edition as I was driving in to work this morning. The first thing that came to my mind when I heard this was “are 7 out of 10 Americans remotely qualified to say if a law is unconstitutional?” Could 7 out of 10 Americans name the relevant sections of the Constitution which are being used to argue this case? (Interstate Commerce and Congress’ Taxing Authority to name some of the main ones.) I am quite certainly more versed on Constitutionality than the average bear, I have read quite a bit about the Court in general, I have listened to the Oral Arguments in the case, and I don’t think I am qualified to answer the question of the Constitutionality of that or any other law.

In the same article, they also said:

7 out of 10 Americans are opposed to the individual mandate.

Ok, there we go, that is a polling question I can understand and support the data on. It is a question where the people answering it have the basis to share their feelings.

I don’t understand how a news or polling organization can reasonably ask a question for which the people answering the question are unqualified to even understand the topic on which the question is based?

8 out of 10 Americans believe that the Clique Problem can be shown to be NP Complete by reducing it to Boolean Satisfiability Problem.

People would laugh at any survey that shared this “fact.” (Or at least I would hope they would.) It isn’t that the assertion isn’t correct (it is), it is just that it is a question that is meaningless to 99% of people out there. This is not meant to be an insult to 99% of people, just that we should not be presenting statistics on questions that people have no reasonable basis for knowing the answer.

Please stick to questions on polls where people have a reasonably good chance of being able to be informed. It is probably impolite to say, but if you are not informed about a topic, your opinion really does not make much sense, because you have no basis to form an opinion.