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Should You Read This Column?

Dec. 16, 2002
Dec. 16, 2002

Table of Contents
Dec. 16, 2002

Should You Read This Column?

We have no Warsaw, Krakow or Gdansk, yet nowhere are there more
polls than in America.

This is an article from the Dec. 16, 2002 issue

We love polls more than strippers love poles. There is no
question we can't answer with a poll: Which is the best college
football team? Who shall die, Quisp or Cap'n Crunch? What shall
my foreign policy be?

Recently ABC News conducted a scientific, very expensive,
margin-of-error-of-plus-or-minus-3% poll that asked, on the 25th
anniversary of Elvis's death, Who is the greatest rock and roll
performer of all time? And 38% of the people said, "Elvis. Yes, I
believe he is." Next week on ABC News: Is there anybody nicer,
ever, than your mom?

The new rage in sports is instant polling during an event. For
baseball, Fox has Virtual Manager, which is like any other
manager except it doesn't spit tobacco juice constantly, bring
its three-year-old to the game or even consider managing the New
York Mets.

During the World Series the Virtual Manager asked questions such
as, Should the Angels bunt in this situation? And, Should the
Giants use a reliever now? Within two minutes the Virtual Manager
reappeared with its answer after thousands of viewers went to
Foxsports.com and clicked in their well-informed baseball
opinions, divined from years of eating Cheetos off their chests
in front of the TV. Bunt. Yes, the Angels should definitely bunt
here.

Apparently there are hundreds of thousands of Americans who lie
on their couches, one hand on a computer mouse and the other on
the Cheetos, ready to click in the moment they're needed. You see
instant polling in football (Should the Giants go for it on
fourth down?) and on reality shows (Is Denise a bitch?) and on
those catty Oscar warmup shows (Did Winona Ryder pay for that
dress?).

But it's all about as pointless as Meat Loaf's calorie counter.
What does it matter whether, as AOL asked recently, we think
the Federal Reserve will leave interest rates where they are? Do
you think that Alan Greenspan stops in the middle of addressing a
boardroom full of the nation's top economists and suddenly says,
"Hold on a minute, ladies and gentlemen. I want to see whether
Elmer Schnood, a Roto-Rooter man in greater Tacoma, thinks
interest rates should stay where they are."

You know we'll see instant polls during coverage of the next war.
While a network is showing a satellite transmission of Iraqi
troop movement, the Virtual General will pop up and ask, Should
Gen. Tommy Franks use a drone in this situation?

This pollio is contagious. You see it on SportsCenter a lot. In
the first 20 minutes you'll hear Stuart Scott say, "O.K., I want
50,000 votes on this one. Log in right now and vote!" He'll
want your opinion on some earth-shattering issue such as, Will
Brian Griese's knee be ready in time to save the Broncos?

Later in the show Scott will go back to the question as if it's a
real news story. "Dan, the people have spoken," Scott will say,
"and out of 63,784 voters, a resounding 63 percent think, yes,
Brian Griese's knee will be ready!"

Are we orthopedic surgeons? Professional trainers? Experts in the
rehabilitation of medial collateral ligaments? No, but we stayed
at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Ask yourself this: How blinklessly bored do you have to be to sit
there watching SportsCenter, hear that Stuart Scott needs you,
leave your La-Z-Boy, run to your computer, log on, find the poll
site and vote? I mean, have you even heard of the opposite sex?

In fact, scientists agree that the moment you vote in an ESPN
instant poll is when you have officially bottomed out and have a
life that is so tiny as to be "statistically insignificant."

Somebody needs to conduct a poll that asks, What effect do you
think filling out this poll will have on the subject it concerns?

___None ___Zippo ___Bubkes

So, in conclusion, I'd just like to say, if politicians can
restrict exit polling, why can't all polling make an exit? We're
just kidding ourselves if we think our opinion really ...
szzzlll!... Hey! What the...psstchuuuu!... Oww, my fingers!...
Poof!

B/W PHOTO: JEFFERY A. SALTER

Virtual Editor: Is this column working?

___Yes ___No ___Already tossed magazine into trash
and opened Maxim. Vote now!

VIRTUAL EDITOR RESULTS FROM PARAGRAPH 7

Is this column working?

YES 12% NO 39% MAXIM 49%

VIRTUAL EDITOR: What should we do with this column?

___See if he can pull it out

___Kill it immediately

___Make it self-destruct like the tapes in those cool
Mission: Impossible opening scenes. Vote now!

Scientists agree that the moment you vote in an ESPN instant poll
is when you have officially bottomed out.