flaws with the ron paul theory?

Started by frikle, December 10, 2008, 06:24:58 AM

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i wonder if anyone else has found this episode to be less skeptically-thorough compared to the other ones?

for example the interview includes a comparison of ron paul's internet popularity vs media coverage in search trends -- there are several things i find potentially wrong with such a comparison:

1. google tools appear to be normalised, massaged and there's no reason to consider them as raw data. the video was looking at the graph shapes quite specifically but from what i've found they're only really useful as a very general guide.
2. a large search volume for ron paul does not necessarily imply voter popularity since voter popularity is a positive while many of the searches could have been people wishing to find out more, or a "i've heard he has some crazy views" type of search
3. internet users are a VERY non-representative of the general US population so it's very plausible that Ron Paul's high popularity in the blogosphere was not matched by the same rise in enthusiasm in the offline world.

shane does say that this person's view is a bit conspiracy-theory but i'm not sure why he included this view at all since it seems to be a rather elaborate conspiracy about how ron paul was almost deprived of his rightful presidency by the media. and the way the guest expressed himself gives the casual viewer an impression of significant political bias in favour of ron paul.

December 10, 2008, 10:06:51 AM #1 Last Edit: December 11, 2008, 10:04:59 PM by MrBogosity
This has been discussed to death in the comments section, and this misconception is bogus because it has nothing to do with support. Internet hits are about interest. The more interest there is in a candidate--whether that interest translates as support or not--the more news coverage he should get.

This was the case with every other candidate except for Ron Paul. The news media based their coverage on their bogus polls. His support wasn't just on the internet (that's just the only place where we have raw data to work with), it was in the real world, with Ron Paul signs everywhere, call-in shows swamped, there were many in the media who said that the person they had the most requests to learn more was Ron Paul. The only reason they thought this must have been anomalous was because of their polls. And as I pointed out in the episode, maintaining this on the air just fueled the public perception that there was no real support (even after he started out-polling McCain and others in the primaries), making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's like how people think that overall crime, school shootings, and other things the media reports a lot are on the rise, when really crime rates are dropping and school shootings are so rare as to be freak occurrences.

Jerry Day was being conspiratorial, and he had a clear Ron Paul bias, and I edited out a lot of that and just showed his analysis of the data, which I maintain is valid even if it doesn't point to a conspiracy. As I said, they probably believe very sincerely that their polls are accurate. That's why I downplayed the conspiracy angle: it just isn't relevant. He used good data and took it in the wrong direction; I think I took it in a better direction.

I think I did the same with Zennie Abraham. He had a clear pro-Obama bias, and he wandered into conspiracy territory himself, but I think I pulled out the good points he made and took them in a better direction.

Incidentally, I do want to point out that the prediction markets have done a very good job of measuring support and predicting the election results. I did a lot of research into them but didn't use them in the episode because it seems to me that, as a predictive science and measure of popular opinion, they're still in their infancy, but in my opinion the election results have vindicated them in a big way. I'm going to pay much closer attention to them from now on.

I thought the forum was the comments section which is why I was surprised there were no posts about this episode.

I think it was more of a matter of viewer perception rather than actual analysis. If this episode was the only one I saw from your series then I would think that you were agreeing with Jerry Day's conspiracy theory. It was because I've seen and enjoyed your other episodes that I was able to interpret it in context.

Perhaps if the viewer isn't careful (which covers a lot of viewers) the unedited stuff from Jerry is still quite easy to interpret as being the viewpoint of the whole video. I think the fact that this seems conspiratorial is only mentioned once which can be missed by a casual viewer (or not paid much attention to).

Like I have long seen this issue. This is a good example. With this interesting debate again.