Britain’s chattering classes sure can get their knickers in a knot with the will of the people offends their liberal sensibilities.
A phone-in poll does not represent the will of the people in any way, shape or form. Norvell compounds his error by leaving out important details about the shooting by Martin, like the fact that the burglar was shot in the back while fleeing and left to die. Norvell also seems to have based his description of Pound’s reaction on third-hand reports, mischaracterizing it as “apoplectic”. You can actually listen to Pound’s comments and find out that his tone was not “apoplectic”. Too bad Norvell didn’t bother.
What is worse is that Norvell isn’t just some random blogger or columnist, but London Bureau Chief for Fox News. Why can’t these people understand opinion polls?
Update: Eugene Volokh understands that such polls are meaningless. Here he writes about another meaningless poll on gay marriage. Unlike the BBC, the people who ran that poll (the American Family Association) reneged on their promise to put forward the results to lawmakers.
Glenn Reynolds, however, either does not understand or does not care. He posts for the second time on it, misrepresenting the result as “The will of the people”. I sent him a copy of this post and he added this update:
Tim Lambert emails (as I expected him to) that the poll is unscientific. Maybe so—but that’s an argument against the BBC using it—not an argument for discounting it after it produced a result the BBC didn’t like.
- I sent him this post and the link to it, but he does not link to this post, preventing his readers from seeing my arguments.
- The fact that the result is meaningless is, in fact, an argument for discounting it, regardless of what the result was.
- Stephen Pound did not like the result, but he is neither the BBC nor an employee of the BBC. And he did not discount the result but accepted that he would have to put forward to other lawmakers a proposal that he personally considered most unwise.