So What?

Scary Red Meat and Shaky Research

October 30, 2015  • Institute Contributor

“So What?” – Your Weekly Guide to Advocacy With Impact 

Lovingly selected and lightly snarked by Team APEP: David Devlin-Foltz, Susanna Dilliplane, and Christine Ferris


They shoot horse (races), don’t they?

With Election Day “only” a year away, you can’t get out of bed without tripping over a pol – or a poll. What are we supposed to make of all these polls on who’s ahead and who’s behind? A few insights about “horse race” polls from some Smart People:

·        Polls can influence the candidates, their prospects, and who gets to be in the debates
·        Some heavyweight pollsters are moving away from the horse race biz – leaving potentially less reliable polls to exert that influence
·        Polls can tell you which candidate has near-zero support (we’ll miss you, Chaffee)
·        Indicators other than horse-race polls are good predictors of candidate success
·        Polls should be taken with these grains of salt

 How did YOU celebrate World Statistics Day?

As well-informed Statawonks know, last Saturday was World Statistics Day, a day to celebrate data and beautiful data visualization like this and this. And if this is your first data viz rodeo, here are some great tips to get you started from Ann Emery – one of our most popular So What? items returning for a bow.


Bacon, Honey, Intestinal Worms, and Useful Skepticism

We like food. We want food to like us too. Some at APEP believe that caramelized bacon is the height of human achievement. Others (vegans and the WHO) not so much. But experts disagree; and here’s a good examination of why nutrition research is really difficult.  And here’s a thoughtful, candid discussion of why even a celebrated “gold standard” study on deworming may fall short.  


  The Aspen Planning and Evaluation Program helps leading foundations and nonprofit organizations plan, assess and learn from their efforts to promote changes in  knowledge, attitudes, behaviors and policies in the US and internationally.  To learn more about our tools and services, visit