Poll Crashing

While we’re talking about Pharyngula, I should mention that PZ Meyers has been sending his minions to crash various polls with questions such as “Should prayer and the Ten Commandments be allowed in schools?”

To illustrate the power of that directive, when PZ posted about this poll, it was 92% “yes”. Now it’s closed and the results are 58.7% no, 41% yes, with 2009 people voting.

This goes to show why internet polling and petitions are garbage and should be discounted. They don’t work, they’re subject to weighting and they’re too easy to falsify. I chuckle every time someone sends me one of those “append your name to the end of this email and forward it along, if you support the ban on homosexual whaling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” I’m sure that with a reasonable amount of effort, I could come up with a script that would generate a list of names and emails that look good.

Internet polling. Just say no.

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