Polls, Experts & Michael Fish

BY JON ALEXANDER

Donald Trump has given his critics another cause to break down over last week as he announced on Twitter that any polls which showed him in a negative light were fake.  This was taken as an amusing bit of MSM trolling initially, especially as people rushed to mock him and argue that he was a dictator not interested in public opinion.

But just how accurate are these polls Trump dismisses anyway?

They allegedly show that Trump’s current decisions are unpopular with the public in America a mere two weeks into his Presidency. They seem awry considering other polls show a majority of Americans happy with President Trump’s progress thus far.

First of all, who was asked to take the poll? And secondly, more importantly, are these the same data gatherers that showed Trump’s chances of being elected President as less than 5%?

The reality is we do not know all the motives of respondents and results must nowadays – after so many polling aberrations – be taken with a pinch of salt.

It is actually easier to trace negative polls back to someone with a vested interest in destabilising support for him, much the same as when he was actually running for the Presidency.  We saw the same modus operandi over here with Brexit – those in favour of remaining in the EU produced mountains of data showing that only a small number of bigots and underachievers wanted to leave the EU when in actual fact Remain ended up losing by over a million votes.

Are polls really ever relevant anymore? With Social Media the way it is you’d be mistaken for thinking the polls might be more accurate and reach more people but when the poll doesn’t indicate what the person posting it wants it to show then it’s dismissed as having attracted the wrong type of person.  More likely, as proven by recent outcomes as compared to poll data, people may not be telling the truth.

Also, how relevant are “experts” these days?

These talking heads on news channels are relied on heavily for their views but invariably the mainstream ones seem more often than not to be left wing and – judging by recent events – unable to predict a house burning down if it was on fire.

Take Danny Blanchflower, an “economics expert” who famously predicted 5 million unemployed after the 2015 UK General Election if the David Cameron-led Conservative Party was re-elected.  What happened was just the opposite and we now have the lowest unemployment for decades.

Someone getting things so wrong in any other walk of life would be out of a job or full of remorse. But when was the last time you saw a so-called expert apologising? Or a poll company closing down out of embarrassment at its all round incompetence?  (Save perhaps Dan Hodges who agreed to run naked through Westminster when his predictions bit the dust……and good on Dan for following through, albeit in his knickers).

Blanchflower is still opining on Twitter and has yet to get anywhere near a vaguely accurate guess let alone a near accurate prediction.  Such is the state of affairs these days that we don’t require experts to be relevantly qualified or knowledgeable in their field but, even weirder, now we don’t even require them to be right to still call them experts.

How many Michael Fish moments should a polling company or expert be allowed before calling it a day? If Fish had resigned after the 1987 storms would he not have set a decent precedent?

These days the experts are angry. If their opponents are knowledgeable, qualified and offer correct predictions then they are discredited, dismissed as fascists or supremacists and they face a barrage of abuse.

It doesn’t take an expert or a polling company to realise that we live in very strange times.

I blame Michael Fish.

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