This one comes from Ellen Wulfhorst on the Reuters wire:
Unlike traditional, mainstream media, blogs often adopt a specific point of view. Critics complain they can contain unchecked facts, are poorly edited and use unreliable sources.
I sense a great disturbance in the Schwartz, as if a million monitors were just sprayed with soda. (Well, no, I don’t have that many readers, but Dave Neiwert, Athenae and Coturnix have already picked up on it.) And here’s another puzzling statement from the same piece, describing the poll which found that “a majority of Americans do not read political blogs.”
The poll was conducted online from January 15 to January 22 among 2,302 adults. Harris said it does not calculate or provide a margin of error because it finds such figures can be misleading.
Is anyone else concerned by the sampling bias which this procedure could entail? If you ask people online what websites they read, you’re going to get (at best) a measure of what people who spend time online read, not what Americans in general are reading. Sure, that’ll probably increase the percentage of blog readers, skewing the poll towards “new media,” but it’s still bias. (They claim to have used “propensity score weighting” to “adjust” for this.)
On their website, Harris Interactive lays out their rationale for not reporting margins of error. Basically, they assert that people are too poorly educated to know what “margin of error” means: people don’t know that the phrase refers only to sampling error, not to other possible sources of obfuscation (which are harder to get a quantitative handle on). Therefore, people will assume that polls are more accurate than they really are; to avoid this problem, and to save the wear-and-tear on a newscaster’s mouth which the tediously long phrase “margin of sampling error” would produce, Harris will not admit fallibility at all.
Gee, how nice of them to make that decision for us, so that even the people who know statistics can’t get the figures. I just loooove suffering for the sins of innumerate America.
UPDATE: I also get a kick out of this:
Just one in ten (19%) Echo Boomers (those aged 18-31) regularly read a political blog
One in ten. Nineteen percent. Oops.