Most Americans want assault rifles gone, but slight changes of wording in polls vastly influence the outcome

Originally published at: Most Americans want assault rifles gone, but slight changes of wording in polls vastly influence the outcome | Boing Boing


They don’t even have to bend the question, at least not the one they’ll report.


I hate pollsters when they twist questions to make them so difficult to parse. Just put it in plain english, you putzes.


Wording a poll is something discussed in most business statistics courses. This is why why reviewing a poll or study it is important to know what was asked. Benjamin Disraeli wrote , “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” (Mark Twain made it popular in the US.)


Does anyone trust polling anymore? I literally don’t read anything that is called a poll or has a headline about what percentage of people agree with a statement. To me they are all fake news. It’s too hard to try to figure out which of them are ok and possibly informative so I just stopped acknowledging them as sources of information.


On so many issues, this country is being held hostage by an unrepresentative minority of Know-Nothings and by the GOP politicians who can only stay in power by pandering to them.


If the question is long enough, the respondent will forget how it started midway through.


Literally anything that relies on another person’s reading comprehension.


Besides this sort of overt push polling (“As we suffer the growing problem of homelessness and urban crime, do you support donald q. trump…” yadda yadda), there are even more skewing pre-selection mechanisms (non-random sampling) via phone and web canvasing. Can a pollster reach you on your phone? “Hm… outta state number, don’t recognize, ain’t gonna answer that one”; no of course not, me either. But (believe it or not) there are a lot of folks who still answer any ring - any guesses on what that demographic tends to? Then web polls, i’m fond of DailyKos and they frequently have polling, guess what the results tend to be given one is visiting DailyKos at all? In short: No important social decisions should hinge on national polling …but they do, and moreso as time goes on -sigh-


We’re not a democracy.


Unfortunately, yes, everyone does. Especially if the results support a view they hold. The results of such polls are regularly posted on BB (though to be clear I am not disappointed in BB). I kinda gave up trying to make the point that all polls are mostly bullshit, for the exact reasons shown in this research.

Unfortunately polls are also a foundation of shitty small-N psychology studies that make headlines every day, too. Those are a source of constant misinformation about science and humanity in general in the public mind.

This is before you even get into selection bias. Like the fact that virtually all psychology studies are done on white undergrad psychology students. Or that most public polls cover “whoever answers their phone”, which guarantees an elderly white midwestern demographic. It goes on and on. Polls are junk science all the way down because there’s shit for controls on a million variables that affect the result.

Increasingly polls are done by putting up a website, which is the very definition of a self-selecting audience. I need to stop now before I get even more ranty about this.:unamused:


Beau’s reminder about the high rate of cop domestic abuse is sadly probably why domestic violence swept under the rug as much as it is. (And patriarchy.)

I think he makes a very good point.


The question cannot even be answered because there are no such things as semi-automatic weapons known as assault rifles. Assault rifles are defined as rifles capable of firing in full or semi automatic modes.

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I see you are familiar with Survey Monkey. Yeah, even more so now than previously, polls are done to reinforce some already-predetermined conclusion. No data actually worthwhile to be found.


The poll asked about semi-automatic guns, and of course a rifle is not a gun, so no one involved is competent to talk about gun control and we can all go back to sleep until a new school shooting breaks the previous record.

Well done, fellow gun pedant.


Help me with this then. I thought “gun” indicates anything from a derringer to big 6 inch diameter battleship killers. Subclass of gun include “handgun” and “rifle”
So a rifle is a gun but not all guns are rifles.
What do I have wrong here?


Well, about those questions…

Yeah, ban selling or owning - but manufacturing? Doesn’t the US always want to export arms and the means for terrorism? How’s that gonna work if there’s a ban on manufacturing?



In the end it doesn’t matter much, even to a pedant like myself. We all know what’s being discussed here, and the pettifogging attempts by ammosexuals to de-rail are easily called out along with the rest of their technical gun-wanking.


Normally he is pretty level in his arguments but this seems to fall into the trap of trying to find one solution and completely avoiding incomplete ones.

The one gun per minute argument doesn’t make sense to me. Nothing is done serially in a country it’s done in parallel across multiple sites. I have seen gun amnesty events in my hometown (in Canada) that collected a hell of a lot more than 1 gun per minute. And that is one site at one time.

Also, other countries have regulations on magazine sizes and they dont seem that problematic. Sure most of the 5 round pinned magazines can be easily converted, but its a barrier and ensures a smaller number of people have acess to them quickly. The same thing with regulating the sale and transfer of firearm it slows the process down and sometimes that is enough.

His argument for introducing gun regulations stepwise does make sense in some ways but I just disagree in one pronged attacks. Gun regulation is possible. It works in other countries and his proposal of keeping the worst people from guns is really the minimum (and a start). It shouldn’t be the end goal.

Yes no matter what is done, some people will refuse to turn in their guns. But as culture shifts away from easy access to high rate of fire weapons it becomes harder to be that outlier, and harder to find a place to go shooting.

It’s well past time to be paralyed by trying to find a single best option. Try multiple things at once. Hell the Republicans figured that out with their multi pronged attacks on abortion in just a few years.