lunadelcorvo: (I meditate and I still want to choke...)
I am going to assume many of you have seen or heard of this: the Harris poll showing that outrageous numbers of people believe outrageous things about President Obama.

Now there is a lot of hoopla in the media about the poll being unreliable, the data being skewed, etc. I am not a statistician, so I can't evaluate these claims too well. I will say, in all fairness, that there seem to be some reasonable questions being asked as to how accurately the sample can be extrapolated out to represent the entire population, and some equally reasonable explanations in defense of the poll's methodology.

However, none of the issues the poll raised are exactly virgin territory. All of these things have been present in the national political and social dialog before now. So, we could fart around quibbling over whether the reported 32% of all Americans think Obama is a Muslim is really 30%, or 25%, or 40%. However, the fact remains that whatever the exact percent may be, it is a staggeringly huge number.

Look at it this way. The population of the US is just under 310 million, of which a bit over 3/4 is adult. So that leaves us with about 233 million adults. If the percentage of adults who think Obama is a Muslim is even 20%, far lower than the Harris poll suggests, that still means nearly 47 million people think this. It's one out of five adults in the US. It's larger than the entire population of Spain. Think about that. For comparison's sake, the largest stadium in the Western Hemisphere is Beaver Stadium, which seats 107 thousand. You would have to fill that stadium 434 times to equal even the lowball estimate of the number of people who really think Barack Obama is a Muslim.

The percent of 'birthers,' those who believe that Obama is not a US citizen and not eligible to be president, listed by the Harris poll is 25%, which, if accurate, represents 58 million people, nearly the population of Italy, and enough to fill Beaver Stadium 544 times.

So think of the largest sporting event or concert you have ever been to. On average, it was probably about half the size of Beaver stadium, roughly 53,000. So multiply the biggest event you have ever been to by about 1,000, and that's how many people (remember we are low-balling here) think our President is not legally our President.

Multiply that event by about 800 times and that's how many people think that our President is a domestic enemy who should be removed by violence, about 18% (a substantially smaller number than reported by the Harris poll). About that same number think our President is the anti-Christ.

Rather than quibbling about the accuracy of the Harris poll, shouldn't we be focusing on the fact that terrifyingly large numbers of people believe these things? Shouldn't we be worrying about the future, not only our own, but that of our government, our peace and stability, our safety? Shouldn't we be focusing on what to DO about these numbers, rather than getting into pissing contests over whether the number of people who think our elected leader is a domestic enemy is 25% or only 15%? Seems to me, either number is way too many. Let's keep our eye on the ball people, shall we?


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Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities



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