Thursday, February 23, 2006

Anti-science president of a college

THe president of Lakehead college argues that we haven't proven that wireless internet doesn't cause cancer, so we shouldn't use it on campus. Let's help him out with some more advances:
  • Where's the proof that going to class doesn't cause cancer? So, let's cancel classes.
  • Where's the proof that having exams doesn't cause cancer?
  • Ok, your turn to add some. :-)

Monday, February 20, 2006

How good is an exit poll?

January 25th marked the second time that the Palestinians held parliamentary elections: according the BBC - "Exit polls suggest that the ruling Fatah party has won a narrow victory in the first Palestinian parliamentary elections for a decade. The first official exit poll suggests Fatah took more than 46%, compared to 39.5% for Islamic militant group Hamas. The official results may not be announced for several more days" Well official results did come out and Hamas won a landslide! getting 70% of the seats in the new parliament. How did this come about? Well, for about a month I have been saying "look! Exits polls are stupid since people can lie and will lie." Of course, this statement is often an accurate reflection of what is going on. But the numbers here tell a much more interesting story. According to final tallys Fatah won 41% and Hamas 45%. Yes, the numbers to reverse, but not so bizzarely as what the direct comparison between the exit poll percentage of the popular vote and the acutal percentage of awarded seats indicate. It turns out that the subtlety lies in the style of the democracy. What Palestine has is some combination of the American two-party system and the European/Israeli multi-party system. In the two party system a party can just barely win the popular vote and still win a landslide. That's what happened. . Dean can tell you more about why this is actually a very good thing. Dean?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The pulse of the world

Which wars of our two wars have won the hearts of the public? You do recall we started with a war in Afgan? Well, that war has been a true success. We have like 85% support over there. Not so good in iraq. To see a bunch of these sorts of polls, check out this international meta polling cite: World Public Opinion