Thursday, February 03, 2005

Comm 200: Permanent Fatal Errors Q&A

Hey Class. One of the things that I want to do tomorrow is think about the article "Permanent Fatal Errors". This is a discussion about the aftermath of the 2004 Presidential election. Elections are our most interesting and dramatic "Cross Sectional Surveys" for they measure public opinion at one point in time. But, they are not very sophisticated and one of the things that is hard to discern is "what does it mean that someone voted for X candidate". The way people try to find out is through another form or cross sectional surveillance: exit polling. Not only do they ask "who did you vote for?" but they ask a another set of questions in order to find out why people voted the way they did. After the election many pundits thought that the reason that Bush won was he was able to get a "morality" vote. The problem is that this is really vague: what is "Morality"? Despite what some people in our society believe, the term "morality" is rather undefined and squishy. As you read this article that is critical of the exact nature of polling, please pay attention to why Menand is critical. What is it about polling that makes it a less-than-exact science, but still a valid method?

You should have a bloglines account by now and be ready to do some "cross posting" next week. I will ask for your first quality post next week. If you do not know what is a quality post, please see the portion under the headline quality post by clicking here.

Finally, we will spend time redefining your RQ, yet again. Please come prepared to discuss these questions for at least 15 to 20 minutes. Look at what you have already posted and think about how you could be even more refined in your questioning. We may look at a few in class.

Take care.

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