Originally Posted by deathrattle
"The only thing more foolish than a pollster is the fool who believes him."
Because only in the rarest of circumstances can any of the following questions be answered favorably (meaning they don't stand up to intellectual scrutiny).
Public Agenda: About Polling
And secondly, because even the most complete, diverse, well thought out and considered polls reflect matters of opinion.
Take for example the way in which questions are phrased - this is information you rarely see in stupid ass polls like the ones mentioned here. How would you answer the following question.
"Do you believe that God or some other entity was responsible in some way for the existence of mankind, the earth, space, and so forth?"
"Do you fully understand Darwin's theory of evolution and believe it to be the complete explanation for man's presence on earth?"
How would you
answer those questions, if you didn't know what I was getting after?
Also, who you ask has a lot to do with the outcomes. Demographic information is pretty easy to come by. You can pick out neighborhoods that are likely to be religious/agnostic just by knowing whether or not residents of that area have graduated college/make decent money. If you poll nothing but college graduates under 30 in rich suburbs of San Francisco, you're probably going to get results skewed toward Darwinism. Make those same calls in Okmulgee, and they're going to be skewed toward Creationism.
So the integrity of the poll - who they asked, and how they asked the questions - is always of dubious status. If you believe they ask only average Joe's the questions straight-up, then the results seem plausible. This is so rarely the case, that virtually any poll could be taken that proves or disproves any given point of view.
Given these facts, using poll results to bolster ones case is akin to bringing a lawsuit on behalf of a scarecrow.