Submarines demolish scary polls

Submarines demolish scary polls

Do polls about antisemitism keep you up at night?

Good news: The Pew Research Center issued a report this week showing that some of the most notorious polls rely on a deeply flawed methodology.

Take the Economist/YouGov survey of American citizens back in December, which found that 20 percent of participants between the ages of 18 and 29 agreed with the statement that “The Holocaust is a myth.”

It turns out that that poll’s methodology has some serious flaws.

Specifically, it was an online opt-in poll; such surveys, Pew says, are prone to inaccuracy as participants “attempt to complete surveys with as little effort as possible to earn money or other rewards.”

Pew actually commissioned such a survey to investigate the flaws in its methodology. The survey found that 12% of respondents from 18 to 29 years old said they were licensed to operate a “class SSGN submarine.” (The U.S. Navy has four SSGN nuclear-powered submarines, each capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles.) Similarly, 17% of that age group reported they had bought a jet, climbed a Karakoram mountain, cooked halusky, or played jai alai in the past week.

Pew found that improbable answers were even more prevalent among the survey’s self-reported Hispanics, with 24% claiming a submarine license. Pew speculated that “Bogus respondents may be identifying this way in order to bypass screening questions that might otherwise prevent them from receiving a reward.”

Pew went on to run another survey, with a sounder methodology, asking whether respondents agreed that the Holocaust is a myth.

Pew found that a mere 3% of respondents — across all age groups — agreed.

It’s not a result that generated headlines. But it might help you get a good night’s sleep.


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