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Putting It All Together


An educated consumer is a poll's best customer. For all their weaknesses, polls can tell us a lot as long as we know that what we're looking at is an approximation of reality, and not reality itself. This is especially true of reports based on "focus groups," which offer human interest but are subject to vast amounts of error. Internet surveys also cannot represent the general population adequately at present, though this is an area where some serious attempts are being made to compensate for the inherent difficulties and inherent sampling bias. So, read the poll numbers for entertainment. Just don't rely on them for decision-making.

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