Hansen Poll Results and the Backup Poll

As many readers know, I started a poll last week regarding Dr. Jim Hansen’s statement that energy company executives “be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature”.

The one week poll results are shown below:

What is interesting is there was an apparent effort on both sides of the political spectrum to do some vote stuffing. Between Monday night 7/1 and now, about 10,000 votes were added to question number one. Such is the weakness of this online poll service, for which some folks, such as “Frankbi” found and published exploits for.  One of my own readers found an exploit which appeared in comments. The poll makeup started out a lot differently as Michael Smith recorded with a series of screen caps:

Click image for more graphics and complete analysis.

So as they say, the poll got “freeped” by both sides of the issue. Some conservative sites also directed readers here, but none of those that I saw published any exploits. That it got exploited at all is mostly my fault, as I did not opt to purchase (at the beginning) the $200 yearly subscription upgrade for this software that would allow for IP tracking and tools for post voting exclusion of vote stuffing practices. It had only the basic security. I figured I’d wait and see how much interest this poll garnered before I ponied up that much money. The company advertised they had an “upgrade” path that would allow me to get those features that would allow IP analysis. I had no idea this poll would get 60,000 votes so I figured I’d take a wait and see attitude.

Last night when I went to purchase the upgrade, I was shocked to discover that the company, polldaddy.com really didn’t have an “upgrade” to the service as one would expect, but rather it was a “pay money, and do-over”. There was this little fine print on the bottom of the page that only appears to logged in poll creators AFTER you click the “upgrade” button:

Click to enlarge

Here is what it says:

(Note: Individual voter data, location reports and IP analysis will only be available on data collected after you upgrade. We do not collect this kind of data for free accounts.)

They don’t tell you that in the initial sales pitch. Great, brilliant marketing scheme there for polldaddy. Unfortunately, since I’m hosted on wordpress.com this company is the only one they offer an inline polling system for, and WordPress hosting automatically removes javascript and other coding that many of the other poll systems use, so my options were limited here.

So chalk it up to a learning experience, I made a bad choice of polling providers.

However, you might be interested to know that a backup plan has been in place. Noel Sheppard of Newsbusters asked me within a few hours of the start of my poll asking if he could duplicate it. I agreed, saying it would be good to have a backup, and they put it in place. His polling software is more robust that the polldaddy.com service, and has more anti-vote stuffing features.

It also has not been on the radar of the people whom called for a “crash” of the poll on WUWT. Here is the one week results for Newsbusters Poll:

It is interesting to note the differences between the poll results. The Newsbusters poll has been open the same amount of time (with maybe 3-4 hours difference) and it has far less votes. The Newsbusters poll remains open as of this writing.

So I’ve got some lessons learned here:

1) Online polling software security features can be gotten around, in some cases easily.

2) Free polling software, i.e. polldaddy.com, you get what you pay for. Their backwards “try and buy” marketing that tosses out the results you really want means I’ll not be “buying” it. If I ever do a poll again, polldaddy won’t be my choice. I’ll rent an external server to get around the wordpress.com limits.

3) Controversial polls generate huge amounts of traffic when they are on the radar.

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Evan Jones
July 2, 2008 1:04 pm

I find it difficult to accept that 92% of respondents choose that Congress not be motivated by the data. Yes, I know some of the other options were ‘juicier” and not mutually exclusive to the latter.
But, other than regarding Hansen as an oddity from a Barnum sideshow, or as a poster-boy of how not to be a free country or to practice science, why should Congress be paying any attention to anything he says or doesn’t say?

July 2, 2008 1:23 pm

As always with liberal zealots, the end justifies the means.

July 2, 2008 1:24 pm

Actually, you couldn’t have asked for a clearer demonstration of the alarmists’ willingness to subvert data-gathering procedures to further their political ends!

July 2, 2008 1:32 pm

What a shock, the tree huggers and global warmers are not honest even in their voting. I guess this is the “slippery slope” syndrome.
REPLY: all that can be said for certain is that the poll got vote stuffed by both sides. I cannot access poll IP data to determine the extents.

doug w
July 2, 2008 1:51 pm

I originally found this poll on Lubos’ site (think it was his anyway). His results were pretty close to NewsBusted’s.

R John
July 2, 2008 2:32 pm

I will admit that I was able to and did vote multiple times from several computers for the third statement. I don’t find it surprising that 10,000 votes were added, though, when you have the William Connelly’s of the world constantly checking hundreds of Wikipedia pages for any alterations of the AGW crowd’s opinions.

steven mosher
July 2, 2008 2:34 pm

do a TOBS adjustment
REPLY: Heh, got a chuckle from that.

R John
July 2, 2008 2:40 pm

Slightly OT – ICECAP had a link to Hansen’s original testimony from twenty years ago. In it, he stated that 1988 and I quote, “The Earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental records.” Just last year, after the discovery of the Y2K bug in his program, he admitted that 1934 was the warmest year on record with 1998 a close second. Hmmm. So which is it Jimmy – 1988 or 1934?
REPLY: it has now changed back to 1998.

July 2, 2008 3:18 pm

Part of the problem is that if you have to many choices, people can just hammer on one while honest voters pick between them. Of course, with two choices, it just becomes a vote war. Can’t win.

July 2, 2008 3:20 pm

R John, that’s only for the USA. But Anthony’s right, two, he has somehow adjusted it back.

David Gladstone
July 2, 2008 3:39 pm

What a revoltin’ development. I only voted once and can see the power of religion, not science, in action here! I must admit, I’m in favor of an ice age if only to prove these a**holes wrong! :]

July 2, 2008 4:10 pm

Lesson 4? Online polls are worthless as polls, by definition.
Still, you did say you were going to be sending your results to congress.
BTW, your guesses re my identity were completely wrong. When yo routinely bar people who argue against you from your site, and even go back and retroactively remove posts yo had previously approved, don’t be surprised that the only people arguing against you are anonymous.
REPLY: Ah, thanks Lee. Actually there’s only 6 people out of the thousands visiting and commenting here that have been barred from the site for bad behaviour. In every blog on the internet there are always a few that are troublemakers. And almost every blog operator will get some. This is my home on the Internet, and like the other blog operators I’ll choose whether to allow certain anonymous strangers or known individuals into my living room or not. Some unruly bums get thrown out of all blogs for bad behavour.
If you don’t like that, don’t visit.

July 2, 2008 4:15 pm

Voted for no. 3 but trials may not be a bad idea. You know, courts testing evidence, that kind of thing. If I were a warmist I wouldn’t be too keen for serious examination of AGW in a court for fear of a repeat of the Inconvenient Truth court case in the UK where it was found to have some serious errors. That thought doesn’t seem to have occurred to the vote stuffers but unless Hansen really has lost the plot I doubt that he really wants that sort of scrutiny. The whole “put oil execs on trial” bit seems like another soundbite to throw for the media.

July 2, 2008 4:40 pm

I wonder though, what would happen if this poll had been posted first at some place like Real Climate. Would anybody bother to go over there and try to fix the poll. I know I wouldn’t. I’d just wait for them to post the results of 90% want oil execs put on trial, then point at them and laugh.

July 2, 2008 5:22 pm

How empty and pointless does a person’s life have to be, if the most important thing they can think of to do is to cheat an online poll? True, it demonstrates the fanatical nature of Hansen’s confederates and comrades, but honestly what type of lowlife Igor spends his time that way?

Ken Westerman
July 2, 2008 5:45 pm

High jacking a poll shows desperation, in my mind. And desperation comes from a fear.
Fear of a failing prophesy.
I for one voted for the most reasonable answer. Ignore Peter crying Wolf.
Let Congress use data to make policy decisions…this seems most logical.
Trying to fire Hansen or letting Him go crazy in front of Congress – to push “war crimes” – are extreme polarities…and take away from credibility.

Robert Ray
July 2, 2008 6:00 pm

Evan 13:04
As one of the 8% I knew I was going to be in the minority from the get go. But then I’ve never really cared to be a face in the crowd. (Hmm, I wonder if that obscure reference is applicable to the whole global warming show)

Bob Smith
July 2, 2008 6:03 pm

from the blog Small Dead Animals:
“Calling The SDA Nation
A poll that needs your vote to go horribly right.
(I like “Hansen should be fired by NASA for overstepping his bounds”, but your milage may vary.)
Posted by Kate at 2:12 PM | Comments (38)”

Jack Simmons
July 2, 2008 7:24 pm

The AGW crowd is losing.
This is why they waste their time hijacking polls.
AGW is the Vietnam of the environmental extremists. As the government had to cover their loss with lies, so too the extremists.
People are not going to support the measures called upon when:
1) Temperatures are going down, globally, invalidating the predictions of AGW.
2) Energy prices soar, threatening the security of the ordinary person.

July 2, 2008 7:24 pm

These online polls really just rate a CRN5. Too much micro-site interference. And what you have in the end is a record that is only good for PR. 😉

July 2, 2008 7:33 pm

You have to get credit where the credit is due: alarmists are more skillful faking poll results. I refuse to believe that all skeptics are so morally superior to econuts so that they never even attempt adjusting the poll results in their favor.
Perhaps there is a simpler explanation, and we just don’t fully realize how many brainwashed folks are there?

July 2, 2008 7:53 pm

This is what happens when you try to prove something by consensus.

July 2, 2008 10:10 pm

In my opinion, screaming for Dr. Jim Hansen’s head is as unreasonable as Dr. Hansen’s demands. To me, it is somewhat embarrassing when people in government, or NASA, or any high place, go over the top. It’s very embarrassing when it becomes a polarized food-fight in the general population.
At such times, I really, really hope that there is no one out there — watching.

Bob Cormack
July 2, 2008 10:35 pm

Vadim: “I refuse to believe that all skeptics are so morally superior to econuts so that they never even attempt adjusting the poll results in their favor.”
I think that most skeptics got that way by paying attention to the data. The econuts, on the other hand, often pick their views based on what makes them feel morally superior and “in”. Hence, skeptics don’t really care about poll results (except as a measure of public knowledge), since they know that it is irrelevant to the facts. To the econuts, belief (and consensus) is more important than facts and they are more threatened by disagreement. (Just look at Hansen as an extreme example of where that can end up.)
Warmers are much more likely to scam polls (and suppress dissent) than skeptics, since they are much more threatened by dissent (and less capable of rational argument in response).

July 3, 2008 1:54 am

Zealots will do anything to further their cause but those who adhere to the scientific view are not going to skew results because it goes against the grain.

Arthur Glass
July 3, 2008 6:54 am

I must re-iterate that the Congress of the United States has no power to try anyone for anything, with the exception of impeachment in the case of Federal official, and there the penalty is removal from office. This is, I believe, unlike the powers of the British Parliament, so Mr Hansen’s ignorance on this issue at least is excusable, if perhaps willful.
Also, where in the Federal code is ‘crime against humanity’ or ‘crime against nature defined?

July 3, 2008 7:45 am

Why did the self-righteous, faux-indignant slow-shaking of heads begin only after the pro-Hansen freeping began? For a crowd that prides itself on being “all about the science,” one can’t help but wonder why such low critical standards were allowed in creating a poll that was so obviously biased, its intended results so clearly predetermined, from the get-go. To wit:
– The poll claims to “gauge reader perception.” Judging from its themes and content, exactly what sort of general audience did you think this website tend to attract on a day-to-day basis? Somewhat “skeptical” types, perhaps?
– Exactly how “far and wide” did you think said readership was likely to spread word of the poll? Equally in all directions, or rather shunted disproportionately towards other like-minded sites?
– It’s an online poll. Were you serious about actually submitting it to a US senator as evidence of some kind? That would surely be a credibility-killing move on your part.

July 3, 2008 7:57 am

Also, re: “Michael Smith’s” screen cap “analysis” — why the shock and dismay that the “lynch the energy execs” option shot up 1680 votes in a day, yet utter silence about the fact that the “lynch Jimmy Hansen” option shot up 2455 votes a couple days after? I mean, how did they procreate so fast?!

Wondering Aloud
July 3, 2008 7:38 pm

So political agenda led people to fudge the data on this poll. What could possibly be a more appropriate way to support Dr. Hansen than to fudge data.
I am so naughty sometimes.

July 3, 2008 9:21 pm

Global warming on trial. Sounds good to me.

July 4, 2008 4:53 am

I voted for “fired” for two reasons. First, he’s using his position in a government agency for his own very public agenda, second it was a tit-for-tat: Demand blood and you may find it is your own.
That said, he’s already tried making a martyr of himself with the absurd claims of “censorship”, firing him would probably just enhance his “street cred”.

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