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Daily English with Sylvia, BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English / Are opinion polls accurate?

BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English / Are opinion polls accurate?

Neil:

Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

Sam:

And I'm Sam. Predicting the future is not easy but that's exactly the job of opinion pollsters – researchers who ask people questions to discover what they think about certain topics.

Often their aim is predicting which political party will win in election by asking members of the public how they intend to vote.

Neil:

But predicting the future is never one hundred percent accurate, and opinion polls don't always get it right.

In 2016, few pollsters predicted a victory for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election.

Sam:

And in the 2020 US elections, most polls predicted Trump would lose to Joe Biden by a much larger amount than he actually did.

These mistakes, sometimes called misfires -when things do not work in the way intended - have damaged the reputation of opinion pollsters.

In this programme we'll be taking a look into the opinion polling industry and, of course, learning some useful new vocabulary as well.

Neil:

But first I have a question for you, Sam, and it's about another time when the opinion polls got it wrong.

Few pollsters predicted that Britain would vote to leave the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum which, in the end, it did.

But what was the final split between those who voted to leave and those who wanted to remain? Was it:

a) 51 leave to 49 remain? b) 52 leave to 48 remain? c) 52 remain to 48 leave?

Sam:

I think it was b) 52 percent voted to leave and 48 percent to remain.

Neil:

OK, Sam, I'll reveal the answer at the end of the programme.

Sam:

One of the biggest polling companies was founded by George Gallup.

Born in 1901 on a farm in Iowa, Gallup was a student of journalism.

He wanted to know people's opinion on a range of subjects and came up with a simple idea – why not try asking them?

Here's G Elliot Morris, a data journalist for ‘The Economist', explaining more to BBC World Service programme, More or Less…

G Elliot Morris:

And he publishes his dissertation on this - how to measure what people want, basically.

And he gets hired by a much bigger advertising agency in New York called Young and Rubicam.

And they basically give him a blank cheque to do their research, to figure out how to call people, how to talk to them, to figure out if they remember or liked a certain product.

Basically to figure out early methodologies in advertising.

And then by 1931 or so, he's wondering: well, if it works for toothpaste, why not politics?

Neil:

George Gallup tried to figure out what customers wanted to buy.

If you figure something out, you finally understand it or find a solution to a problem after thinking about it a lot.

Sam:

Later he was hired by a New York advertising agency to find out people's opinion of consumer products like toothpaste and soft drinks.

George was given a blank cheque – an unlimited amount of money and freedom to do his job.

Neil:

At this time, polling was focused on consumer preferences, not politics.

But asking people about their political views is a lot more complicated than asking them about toothpaste.

Making accurate election predictions depends on polling a sample group of people who accurately represent the population as a whole.

One of the reasons for pollsters failure to predict Trump's election in 2016 is that they didn't ask enough white, non-college educated voters.

Sam:

So, polling is a very complex process, one which is never totally reliable according to G Elliot Morris , speaking again here to BBC World Service's, More or Less…

G Elliot Morris:

If people were understanding this process, that's generating all the polls, then they would understand polls as less precise tools – tools that definitely can't offer the laser-like predictive accuracy we've come to expect from them, then the difference between polling's' expectations and performance wouldn't be so stark.

Neil:

Opinion polls can estimate the outcome of an election but they can't give us laser-like accuracy.

If you describe something as laser-like you mean it is very accurate and focused, like a laser.

Sam:

If people understand how hard it is to predict the future, they might be more realistic about how accurate opinion polls can be.

Then, differences between a prediction and the final result wouldn't be so stark – obvious and easily visible, or harsh.

Neil:

Predicting the future is difficult, otherwise everyone would be a lottery winner by now!

Maybe it's not opinion polls that are broken but our desire to know the future that's the problem.

OK, it's time to reveal the answer to my question about the Brexit referendum.

Sam:

I said the final result was 52 percent for leave and 48 percent for remain.

Neil:

Which was… the correct answer! and another example of an opinion poll misfire – a situation where something does not work as intended.

OK, let's recap the rest of the vocabulary from this programme about opinion pollsters – people who conduct polls asking the public their opinion on particular subjects, especially politics.

Sam:

If you figure something out, you finally understand it, or find the solution to a problem after thinking long and hard about it.

Neil:

If someone gives you a blank cheque, you have unlimited money and freedom to complete a task.

Sam:

When you describe something as laser-like you mean that it's very accurate and precise.

Neil:

And finally, the adjective stark has several meanings including obvious, harsh and plain.

Once again, our six minutes are up. Bye for now!

Sam:

Bye!


BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English / Are opinion polls accurate? BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English / Sind Meinungsumfragen korrekt? BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English / ¿Son precisas las encuestas de opinión? BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English / Les sondages d'opinion sont-ils exacts ? BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English / I sondaggi di opinione sono accurati? BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English / 世論調査は正確ですか? BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English / Czy sondaże opinii publicznej są dokładne? BBC Learning English - 6 Minute English / Являются ли опросы общественного мнения точными? BBC Learning English - 6 Dakika İngilizce / Kamuoyu yoklamaları doğru mu? BBC Learning English - 6 хвилин англійської / Чи є опитування громадської думки точними? BBC 学习英语 - 6 分钟英语 / 民意调查准确吗? BBC 學習英語 - 6 分鍾英語 / 民意調查準確嗎?

Neil:

Hello. This is 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English. I'm Neil.

Sam:

And I'm Sam. Predicting the future is not easy but that's exactly the job of opinion pollsters – researchers who ask people questions to discover what they think about certain topics.

Often their aim is predicting which political party will win in election by asking members of the public how they intend to vote.

Neil:

But predicting the future is never one hundred percent accurate, and opinion polls don't always get it right.

In 2016, few pollsters predicted a victory for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election.

Sam:

And in the 2020 US elections, most polls predicted Trump would lose to Joe Biden by a much larger amount than he actually did. A ve volbách v USA v roce 2020 většina průzkumů předpovídala, že Trump prohraje s Joem Bidenem o mnohem větší částku, než jakou ve skutečnosti získal. Et lors des élections américaines de 2020, la plupart des sondages prévoyaient que Trump perdrait face à Joe Biden avec un écart bien plus important qu'il ne l'a fait en réalité.

These mistakes, sometimes called misfires -when things do not work in the way intended - have damaged the reputation of opinion pollsters. Tyto chyby, někdy nazývané misfires - když věci nefungují tak, jak bylo zamýšleno - poškodily pověst výzkumníků veřejného mínění.

In this programme we'll be taking a look into the opinion polling industry and, of course, learning some useful new vocabulary as well.

Neil:

But first I have a question for you, Sam, and it's about another time when the opinion polls got it wrong. Nejdřív mám ale pro tebe otázku, Same, která se týká jiného případu, kdy se průzkumy veřejného mínění mýlily.

Few pollsters predicted that Britain would vote to leave the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum which, in the end, it did. Jen málokterý průzkum veřejného mínění předpovídal, že Británie v referendu o brexitu v roce 2016 odhlasuje odchod z Evropské unie, což se nakonec stalo.

But what was the final split between those who voted to leave and those who wanted to remain? Jaké však bylo konečné rozdělení mezi těmi, kteří hlasovali pro odchod, a těmi, kteří chtěli zůstat? Was it:

a) 51 leave to 49 remain? b) 52 leave to 48 remain? c) 52 remain to 48 leave?

Sam:

I think it was b) 52 percent voted to leave and 48 percent to remain.

Neil:

OK, Sam, I'll reveal the answer at the end of the programme.

Sam:

One of the biggest polling companies was founded by George Gallup. Jednu z největších společností zabývajících se průzkumy veřejného mínění založil George Gallup.

Born in 1901 on a farm in Iowa, Gallup was a student of journalism.

He wanted to know people's opinion on a range of subjects and came up with a simple idea – why not try asking them? Chtěl znát názory lidí na různá témata a přišel s jednoduchým nápadem - proč se jich nezkusit zeptat? Il souhaitait connaître l'opinion des gens sur une série de sujets et a eu une idée simple : pourquoi ne pas leur poser la question ?

Here's G Elliot Morris, a data journalist for ‘The Economist', explaining more to BBC World Service programme, More or Less… G Elliot Morris, journaliste spécialisé dans les données pour "The Economist", en explique davantage dans le cadre de l'émission More or Less du World Service de la BBC...

G Elliot Morris:

And he publishes his dissertation on this - how to measure what people want, basically. A na toto téma publikuje svou disertační práci - jak v podstatě měřit, co lidé chtějí. Il publie sa thèse sur ce sujet - comment mesurer ce que les gens veulent, en fait.

And he gets hired by a much bigger advertising agency in New York called Young and Rubicam. A je najat do mnohem větší reklamní agentury v New Yorku Young and Rubicam. Il est engagé par une agence de publicité beaucoup plus importante à New York, Young and Rubicam.

And they basically give him a blank cheque to do their research, to figure out how to call people, how to talk to them, to figure out if they remember or liked a certain product. A v podstatě mu dali bianko šek, aby provedl průzkum, zjistil, jak lidem volat, jak s nimi mluvit, jestli si pamatují nebo mají rádi určitý produkt. Ils lui donnent un chèque en blanc pour effectuer leurs recherches, déterminer comment appeler les gens, comment leur parler, savoir s'ils se souviennent d'un certain produit ou s'ils l'apprécient.

Basically to figure out early methodologies in advertising. V podstatě zjistit včasné metodiky v reklamě. Fondamentalement, il s'agit de comprendre les premières méthodologies en matière de publicité.

And then by 1931 or so, he's wondering: well, if it works for toothpaste, why not politics? A pak, asi v roce 1931, si říká: když to funguje u zubní pasty, proč ne v politice? Puis, vers 1931, il s'interroge : si cela fonctionne pour le dentifrice, pourquoi pas pour la politique ?

Neil:

George Gallup tried to figure out what customers wanted to buy. George Gallup se snažil zjistit, co chtějí zákazníci kupovat.

If you figure something out, you finally understand it or find a solution to a problem after thinking about it a lot. Když na něco přijdete, konečně to pochopíte nebo najdete řešení problému poté, co jste o něm dlouho přemýšleli.

Sam:

Later he was hired by a New York advertising agency to find out people's opinion of consumer products like toothpaste and soft drinks. Později si ho najala newyorská reklamní agentura, aby zjistil názory lidí na spotřební zboží, jako jsou zubní pasty a nealkoholické nápoje. Plus tard, il a été engagé par une agence de publicité new-yorkaise pour connaître l'opinion des gens sur des produits de consommation tels que le dentifrice et les boissons gazeuses.

George was given a blank cheque – an unlimited amount of money and freedom to do his job. George dostal bianko šek - neomezené množství peněz a volnost v práci. George a reçu un chèque en blanc - une somme d'argent illimitée et la liberté de faire son travail.

Neil:

At this time, polling was focused on consumer preferences, not politics. V té době se průzkumy zaměřovaly na spotřebitelské preference, nikoli na politiku. À cette époque, les sondages portaient sur les préférences des consommateurs et non sur la politique.

But asking people about their political views is a lot more complicated than asking them about toothpaste. Ptát se lidí na jejich politické názory je však mnohem složitější než ptát se jich na zubní pastu. Mais interroger les gens sur leurs opinions politiques est beaucoup plus compliqué que de les interroger sur le dentifrice.

Making accurate election predictions depends on polling a sample group of people who accurately represent the population as a whole. Přesné předpovědi voleb závisí na tom, zda se průzkum týká vzorku lidí, kteří přesně reprezentují celou populaci. Pour faire des prévisions électorales exactes, il faut sonder un échantillon de personnes qui représentent fidèlement la population dans son ensemble.

One of the reasons for pollsters failure to predict Trump's election in 2016 is that they didn't ask enough white, non-college educated voters. Jedním z důvodů, proč se průzkumníkům nepodařilo předpovědět Trumpovo zvolení v roce 2016, je, že se neptali dostatečného počtu bílých voličů bez vysokoškolského vzdělání. L'une des raisons pour lesquelles les sondeurs n'ont pas réussi à prédire l'élection de Trump en 2016 est qu'ils n'ont pas interrogé suffisamment d'électeurs blancs n'ayant pas fait d'études supérieures.

Sam:

So, polling is a very complex process, one which is never totally reliable according to G Elliot Morris , speaking again here to BBC World Service's, More or Less… Podle G. Elliota Morrise , který opět hovořil v pořadu BBC World Service, More or Less..., je tedy průzkum veřejného mínění velmi složitý proces, který není nikdy zcela spolehlivý. Les sondages sont donc un processus très complexe, qui n'est jamais totalement fiable, selon G Elliot Morris, qui s'exprime à nouveau dans le cadre de l'émission More or Less de la BBC World Service...

G Elliot Morris:

If people were understanding this process, that's generating all the polls, then they would understand polls as less precise tools – tools that definitely can't offer the laser-like predictive accuracy we've come to expect from them, then the difference between polling's' expectations and performance wouldn't be so stark. Kdyby lidé chápali tento proces, který generuje všechny průzkumy, pak by chápali průzkumy jako méně přesné nástroje - nástroje, které rozhodně nemohou nabídnout laserovou přesnost předpovědi, jakou od nich očekáváme, pak by rozdíl mezi očekáváním a výsledky průzkumů nebyl tak výrazný. Si les gens comprenaient ce processus, qui génère tous les sondages, ils comprendraient que les sondages sont des outils moins précis - des outils qui ne peuvent certainement pas offrir la précision prédictive au laser que nous attendons d'eux, et la différence entre les attentes et les résultats des sondages ne serait pas aussi marquée.

Neil:

Opinion polls can estimate the outcome of an election but they can't give us laser-like accuracy. Průzkumy veřejného mínění mohou odhadnout výsledek voleb, ale nemohou nám poskytnout přesnost jako laser. Les sondages d'opinion peuvent estimer le résultat d'une élection, mais ils ne peuvent pas nous donner une précision comparable à celle d'un laser.

If you describe something as laser-like you mean it is very accurate and focused, like a laser. Pokud něco označíte za laserové, máte na mysli, že je to velmi přesné a soustředěné jako laser. Si vous décrivez quelque chose comme un laser, cela signifie qu'il est très précis et focalisé, comme un laser.

Sam:

If people understand how hard it is to predict the future, they might be more realistic about how accurate opinion polls can be. Kdyby lidé pochopili, jak těžké je předpovídat budoucnost, mohli by být realističtější v tom, jak přesné mohou být průzkumy veřejného mínění. Si les gens comprennent à quel point il est difficile de prédire l'avenir, ils seront peut-être plus réalistes quant à la précision des sondages d'opinion.

Then, differences between a prediction and the final result wouldn't be so stark – obvious and easily visible, or harsh. Pak by rozdíly mezi předpovědí a konečným výsledkem nebyly tak výrazné - zjevné a snadno viditelné nebo tvrdé. Ainsi, les différences entre une prédiction et le résultat final ne seraient pas aussi marquées - évidentes et facilement visibles, ou brutales.

Neil:

Predicting the future is difficult, otherwise everyone would be a lottery winner by now! Předpovídat budoucnost je obtížné, jinak by už všichni byli výherci v loterii! Il est difficile de prédire l'avenir, sinon tout le monde aurait déjà gagné à la loterie !

Maybe it's not opinion polls that are broken but our desire to know the future that's the problem. Problémem možná nejsou průzkumy veřejného mínění, ale naše touha znát budoucnost.

OK, it's time to reveal the answer to my question about the Brexit referendum.

Sam:

I said the final result was 52 percent for leave and 48 percent for remain.

Neil:

Which was… the correct answer! Což byla... správná odpověď! and another example of an opinion poll misfire – a situation where something does not work as intended. a další příklad chybného průzkumu veřejného mínění - situace, kdy něco nefunguje tak, jak bylo zamýšleno. et un autre exemple de raté d'un sondage d'opinion - une situation où quelque chose ne fonctionne pas comme prévu.

OK, let's recap the rest of the vocabulary from this programme about opinion pollsters – people who conduct polls asking the public their opinion on particular subjects, especially politics. Zopakujme si zbytek slovní zásoby z tohoto pořadu o průzkumech veřejného mínění - lidech, kteří provádějí průzkumy veřejného mínění a ptají se veřejnosti na její názor na určitá témata, zejména na politiku.

Sam:

If you figure something out, you finally understand it, or find the solution to a problem after thinking long and hard about it. Když na něco přijdete, konečně to pochopíte nebo najdete řešení problému po dlouhém a usilovném přemýšlení. Si l'on comprend quelque chose, c'est qu'on l'a enfin compris ou qu'on a trouvé la solution à un problème après y avoir longuement réfléchi.

Neil:

If someone gives you a blank cheque, you have unlimited money and freedom to complete a task. Pokud vám někdo dá bianko šek, máte neomezené množství peněz a volnost při plnění úkolu. Si quelqu'un vous donne un chèque en blanc, vous disposez d'un budget et d'une liberté illimités pour accomplir une tâche.

Sam:

When you describe something as laser-like you mean that it's very accurate and precise.

Neil:

And finally, the adjective stark has several meanings including obvious, harsh and plain.

Once again, our six minutes are up. Bye for now!

Sam:

Bye!