Public Opinion Polls are an extremely powerful tool used by the media to reflect the "popular" views of the public. The fact that news consumers so often mistunderstand opinion polls provide the media with further scope to manipulate the views of the consumer. Gary Langer of ABCNEWS recognises the dangers of opinion polls and their ability to distort information delivered to the consumer.
'The danger in polling — as in any news reporting — is in asking leading questions or producing slanted analysis. That’s why we at ABCNEWS conduct our own polls, rather than relying on possibly biased surveys that may be sponsored by groups with an interest in the outcome.'
The following link has proved to extremely useful in accessing statistics and opinion polls concerning the war in Iraq;
As with opinion polls, statistics are so often misunderstood by the public, with the media constantly taking advantage of this lack of knowledge. The presentation of statistics can be an extremely powerful tool used by the media to re-inforce a particular message. The use of graphs, as shown below, attracts great attention to the apparent gulf between certain statistics. In Figure 1, the graph indicates a massive increase in Iraqi civilian deaths after the US 'invasion' of Iraq. This is a powerful attempt to provoke a negative reaction towards the US' involvement in Iraq. Indeed the use of the word 'invasion' in itself is intended to provoke a negative reaction. Without careful analysis, the average person would immediately call into question the US involvement in Iraq without considering any positive reasons for their involvement.
'Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics' - Mark Twain
Twain here has an important point to make. It is not that statistics are necessarily false, but the sheer lack of understanding of the general public can provide the media with, as previously mentioned, a powerful tool to manipulate.
'Think about how stupid the average person is; now realisehalf of them are dumber than that' - George Carlin
Although a extreme view, Carlin recognises the general public's reliance on the need for information to be fed to them by the media, without feeling the need to gain alternative information. This, as mentioned in the Methodologies section, is one aim of this website and indeed David Miller's work 'Tell Me Lies...', that is to encourage media consumers to forge their own opinions based on a wide range of contrasting media.