Poll-Spinning, Seven Dwarfs, and the Supreme Court

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I was sitting in the law school library one night a couple years ago, and a law student asked me if I could remind her the names of the Supreme Court justices. Bear in mind that this was before Roberts and Alito. The Supreme Court at the time had been the same people since something like 1993. This particular law student had probably been in junior high when President Clinton had appointed Justice Breyer. When she found out that I wasn't a law student, a law professor, or a lawyer but merely a philosopher, and yet I could name them off in like three seconds, she was feeling a little Bashful.

Speaking of which, have you heard about the latest poll purportedly showing that the seven dwarfs are more famous than the Supreme Court justices? I've seen it several times now, but most people aren't noticing what Mark Liberman at Language Log has picked up on (see the links within that post, since it doesn't say much itself). It's good reading in general to see how misleading polls can be, indeed how misleading they can be designed to be. Suffice it to say that there's little to be trusted about this poll. It has all the hallmarks of manipulative poll-spinning.

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