ad Silicon Tails: On "Unscientific surveys"......

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

On "Unscientific surveys"......

I have often wondered what people mean when they show you data that has been collected in various ways, often polls by media, and add the note: "This is not a scientific poll". I have heard journalists refer to "unscientific surveys" as another example. So what does that really mean? If it is not a scientific poll, I assume it means that we have no idea what it really represents, and therefore we should not pay attention to it. But that is contradictory because it is published on valuable "real estate" (as in the example below). So they want me to pay attention to it but not believe it? I'm confused....

I think it's because people have a tendency to believe that scientific principles and methods can be graduated, so it might not adhere to strict scientific method but you can still partly believe it, maybe half of it, maybe a third - it's a "gut feel" as many like to say (when did we start thinking with our guts). But that is actually only true if you have strictly adhered to scientific method, it's called confidence intervals, confidence levels and margins of error. But in cases such as below it is meaningless to speak in terms of graduation of "the truth". But of course if people are interacting with your brand, who cares about the truth. We can't handle it anyway.