Your Local Weather Is an Indication of Your Local Weather…And Only Your Local Weather

This morning in reference to some Thanksgiving night programming/ratings I saw this comment from Bill:

If you can’t read that because it’s too tiny the quoted text is “If Twitter last night is any indication – and maybe it isn’t,” to which Bill responded “Twitter is an indication of, Twitter.

He is absolutely correct. But, things are slow today (it’s the day after Thanksgiving!) and I figured this was worth a quick post because the topic is the first cousin of “but I like it and everyone I know likes it…” and “I don’t like it and nobody I know likes it…”  And 2nd cousin to  things like “I have an iPhone and everyone I know has an iPhone…”  where the “…” become “therefore everybody likes it,” “therefore nobody likes it” and “therefore everyone has an iPhone.

Of course those are not not  reasonable conclusions. Indeed, as Bill notes, taking the temperature on Twitter is only indicative of the temperature on Twitter and that is an overstatement unless you follow everybody. Otherwise it is merely the temperature of a small subset of Twitter.

Nobody has a problem figuring out that jumping to conclusions about the weather around the world based on their own local weather is a bad idea. I doubt even the craziest of our commenters would ever say “But it’s sunny and 65 where I am, how could it possibly be cold and rainy anywhere else in the world!??” And yes, yes, I know people do actually say that kind of thing in real life, but it’s only to gloat over their own good weather at the expense of the less weather fortunate.

Yet when it comes to TV shows otherwise reasonable people are seemingly very often willing to jump to global conclusions based on small bits of local data – themselves, their friends, their twitter feed, etc. That flawed reasoning produces wacky comments like “‘The Walking Dead’ and “NCIS” are horrible shows, I don’t like them and nobody I know likes them! This is just further proof about how flawed the Nielsen system is.”

But nope, it’s just a flaw in those folks’ logic.

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