Short hits: Gallup’s skew, Maine blueberries, and online cheating

1. George Gallup made his mark in polling when he and the other “scientific pollsters,” called the presidential race right in 1936, while the Literary Digest did not. Now the Gallup organization’s recent polling has a skew, as it tended to show less support for President Obama than other polls.

Mark Blumental offers a long and (for polling wonks) very interesting analysis and explanation of the Gallup skew. In brief, the poll ends up with slightly fewer African-Americans than other pollsters and, since Obama (not unlike other Democratic presidential nominees) has very high support from this population, Gallup’s numbers on support for Obama are lower.

2. It’s too early in the season for Maine blueberries, the small, very delicious variant of the fruit. These are often called “wild blueberries” and there was a time when much of the harvesting came from commons lands.

Robert Gee, a doctoral student in History at the University of Maine, supplies some fascinating history about changes in the way the berry was harvested and marketed.

3. When students cheat, they don’t learn content or skills. While cheating has always occured, the internet provides new ways for students to do so. This post captures the frustration professors experience when they work hard with students and find they have been cheating. Here’s an excerpt:

I had spent hours going over assignments when she received failing grades. In fact, I have dozens of emails in which I tried to teach her the basics of scholarly essay writing, and the concepts she would need to master to pass the course.  Now I realize that she was stunned that the so-called “A” material she had purchased wasn’t cutting it.

It’s no fun to turn in and fail a cheater, but it is necessary. It’s fair to the other students and it (hopefully) will dissuade similar bad behavior, in courses and elsewhere. After all, with the wonders of the internet, “our brave new world has made it a lot easier for way too many people to cheat their way through…life.”

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.