Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: The Manipulation of Public Opinion in America

by Michael Wheeler

Liveright, $9.95

Opinion polls are not some latter-day sanctified equivalent of vox populi, argues the author, any more than they are a fail-safe science. But politicians, news media, and we, the people, run in circles-buying them, publishing them, reading them—as if the republic depended on them. Wheeler is a reporter first and a skeptic second; his persuasive findings are that pollsters are businessmen, not high priests, and that like businessmen (and politicians), they win some, lose some, and manipulate some. And further, that one man’s “objective poll” is another man’s magnification of the obvious, a distortion of nuance, or a self-fulfilling prophecy.