In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 11, 2006 / 19 Tishrei, 5767

Our preposterous predilection for polling, projecting and prognosticating

By Pat Sajak

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The baseball playoffs are in full swing, and, as is often the case, the experts have been wrong every step of the way. They say no one can beat Team A (Team Y, actually) and — surprise! — Team A loses in the first round. Do their mistakes shame them into contrite silence? Of course not. They're back making predictions for the next round, and, incredibly, we're paying attention to them.

The same holds true for politics. The TV talking heads blather on with their insights and analyses, and they claim to know exactly how each election will unfold. When the results prove them absolutely wrong, they go back on the air, unashamed and unapologetic, to tell us why things turned out differently and — that's right — to tell us what will happen the next time.

Whether it's sports, politics or the stock market, we seem to want to know what will happen next. And, although the evidence shows the answer to what's to come is often, "Who knows?", we are convinced someone does. Of course, what predicting is really all about is having an "expert" confirm our hopes and expectations.

These days, those experts are often armed with polling data to buttress their views. The polls also come in handy as scapegoats when the prognostications go awry. Of course, political polling serves almost no real purpose beyond giving the talking heads something to talk about. A 2006 presidential preference poll has almost nothing to do with a 2008 presidential election. Is a war going badly? Let's take a poll and see if Americans like a war going badly. No, they don't. Bring on the talking heads!

Newspapers and television networks love to take polls. Then they love to use the polls as their lead stories. In other words, they're actually creating the stories they're reporting. And since public opinion is notoriously fickle, the polling results are likely to change next week, so we'll need another poll to measure that shift.

Election nights have become less about who is actually elected than about the polls, predictions and projections. Networks take great pride in being the first to project a winner in a given state, even with the risk that the projection could be wrong. (As with Al Gore in Florida in 2000; a projection made, we tend to forget, while many of the state's polling places were an hour away from closing.) Exactly how does "projecting" a winner serve the public interest? What is gained beyond a particular network's bragging rights?

Movies are deemed to be hits or flops these days based primarily on how they fare compared to box office projections. A film that grosses $200 million is a failure because it was projected to gross $350 million. Then the movie-goers are polled afterwards to see how the picture stacked up against their expectations.

Now we have the phenomenon of projections in all fields being manipulated so you can be called a success if you manage to surpass low expectations. And, of course, you'd like the other guy's projections to be greater, so his inability to meet them is seen as a failure, even if he beats you. However, you don't want to manipulate the projections to the point where they would affect the polling artificially, because the predictions of the projected polling might adversely affect the expectations of those being polled or the predictions of — oh, never mind!

The bottom line is this whole process of foretelling the future is completely out of hand. Ironically, I must close with a prediction: it will only get worse.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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JWR contributor Pat Sajak is the recipient of three Emmys, a Peoplesí Choice Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He's currently the host of Wheel of Fortune.


© 2006, Pat Sajak