Zogby "Knowledge Test" Update

11/21/2008 04:17 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The story of the nefarious Zogby/John Ziegler "knowledge test" poll has generated some useful follow-up:

On Tuesday, Nate Silver posted the verbatim text of a contentious, occasionally profane interview with Ziegler, the sponsor of the survey.

Yesterday, Politico's Mike Allen reported that Zogby had "rejected [Ziegler's] offer to sponsor a poll to test the knowledge of people who voted for John McCain," and included an unhappy reaction from Ziegler:

"I am happy to do a poll of both Obama voters and McCain voters, with questions that I formulated and sponsored either by an objective third party or by someone on the left, in tandem with a John Ziegler on the right -- but poll questions that have my signature," Zogby said.

"I believe there was value in the poll we did," Zogby added. "I also believe it was not our finest hour. This slipped through the cracks. It came out critical only of Obama voters."

Ziegler responded: "I am shocked by John's statement that he would do another poll but not an exact duplication. What is the point of that? Not their finest hour? This a was great poll. This didn't fall through any 'cracks,' they just got scared. ... The point of the poll was for my documentary on the media's impact on voter knowledge."

This morning, The Wall Street Journal's Carl Bialik blogged a thorough review of the whole story that, as Silver points out, is "the fairest and most comprehensive summary of the issue to date" and is worth reading in full.

Over the course of the week, our own commenters took up the challenge from reader DTM, who argued that "it might be helpful if we had an alternative phrase for polls like this, ones designed not to gather information but rather to conjure up support for a preconceived claim...('agenda poll'? 'propaganda poll'? something like that)." These included "agenda poll," "prank poll," "punk poll," "faux poll," "self serving survey" and "advocacy poll" (via email). Put me down as favoring "propaganda poll."

Finally, on the issue of testing "knowledge," ABC's Gary Langer critiques the annual survey on "American Civic Literacy" from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute that claims "the majority of Americans - including elected officials - failed a test of basic knowledge about American history and economics." See Langer's post for the specifics, but he makes a point that could also apply to the Zogby/Ziegler controversy:

The reality is that the ISI itself has failed a test of basic knowledge about the definition and measurement of just what knowledge is. I've blogged about this before - see it here - but the key point is that these folks are confusing knowledge (the ability to draw on information to make considered judgments) with recall (the ability to recite disassociated facts); and then doubling down by using an inappropriate method of measurement.