Archive for December 12th, 2009

Fox News Fail

December 12, 2009

It really wan’t my intent to post three math fails in a row — indeed, the only intent was to post something, since the last month semester six months have been rather sparce, post-wise.  But then I saw an article on the Huffington Post which they got from Media Matters (which includes a great graphic and a video) and, well, another fail it is!

Here’s the scoop:  Rasmussen Reports posted the results of a poll about climate change that included the following question and answers:

3* In order to support their own theories and beliefs about global warming, how likely is it that some scientists have falsified research data?

35% Very likely
24% Somewhat likely
21% Not very likely
5% Not at all likely
15% Not sure

If you were going to summarize this, how would you do it?  Maybe combining categories, like this:

59%  Very or somewhat likely
26%  Not very or not at all likely
15%  Not sure

But that’s a little awkward, isn’t it?  So maybe you’d change the wording to emphasize the likely and not likely, and drop the people who are sure.  that leaves:

59%  Likely
26%  Not very likely

Hmmmm.  This is accurate enough, but to make it sound better, you might add back in the “Very likely” as a parallel to “Not very likely” [OK, you probably wouldn't do that.  But let's pretend you would.].  That would give

59%  Likely
35% Very likely
26%  Not very likely

And that, my friends, is how Fox News you do a poll.

As a follow up, Producer Lauren Patterson claimed, “We were just talking about three interesting pieces of information from Rasmussen….We didn’t put on the screen that it added up to 100 percent.”    Yeah, sure, that makes it all OK.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers