There is a lot happening in the world these days. It can truly be said that we live in interesting times. No wonder some are seeing the very end of the world. But one quotidian aspect of the nature of the times -- revolutions raging, conflicts exploding, bombs going off in every direction -- is that the global media organs whose fare we all consume avidly call into their studios, or unto their pages or websites, certain persons known as Experts in International Relations. For those so designated it is boom time.
We have often moaned about opinion polls and their limited value on this blog. You know, those things where people get asked about their favorite toothpaste and that gets sold as public opinion? The question, of course, is how to do it better. Public opinion is an intricate phenomenon. We don't really know how to define the public to begin with, let alone how to figure out their opinion.
There's been a great model around since the mid 90s: Deliberative Polling. Introduced by James Fishkin, Deliberative Polls are designed to "show what the public would think about the issues, if it thought more earnestly and had more information about them,” to provide a “glimpse of the hypothetical public” (Luskin, Fishkin, and Jowell, 2002). It works like this: