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Are polls lies?

The recent recent election has prompted a lot of comments like, “all polls are lies”. I disagree. Polls are a very fuzzy take on a moment in time. A poll two weeks before election day can’t tell you how the election will turn out, only how people feel about it two weeks before the event. And even for its moment in time it is fuzzy – sample size, etc. Most have a 5% margin of error. The polls, at least in the 5 states that decided this one, were only slightly outside these margins. Polls are a useful tool for understanding the world, but like any tool, to use it properly you need to understand how it works and its limitations. Polls are not oracles, and should not be treated as such.

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