A form of lighthearted entertainment employed by TV programmers and newspapers has Ray Fleming's knickers in a knot. It is an audience participation ballot or poll. He is upset that nanny state does not set standards to protect the public in the same way that UK schools now ban conkers. Ray Fleming seems to think that these exercises are serious. They are not. Any self selecting survey, that is one which allows individuals to participate is worthless from a scientific standpoint. It is one of the first things taught in sociology, psychology, economics, etc. If the sample is not controlled nothing can be deduced from it. Professional pollsters rigidly vet the demographics of the group to be questioned in order to draw useful conclusions. Carefully done valuable information can be obtained. But it is still an iffy game. Many products, even after extensive market studies, fall flat. The point is this. These polls are diversions, like crosswords they are fun if you enjoy them. Would you want a government standards commission for the fairness of crossword definitions? Well, maybe, Ray Flaming would. He seems to like one world government solutions and any opportunity to have tax paid busybodies rooting about. Most of us, however, would rather be left alone. The law books are cluttered enough.
Maurice Roland, East End, London.
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