Science fiction sometimes barely beats out science fact as technological advancements rapidly transform the world. But the changes that are anticipated aren't always the ones that arrive. Here's a look back at what the polls tell us the public has expected from scientific progress -- and how often they've been disappointed.
Pundits have few kind words for politicians who consult public opinion polls when formulating policy. On the other hand, pollsters themselves consider polls no less than the voice of the people. But where does the public stand? A review of polls about polling, from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research archive:
The important lesson from all of this is that leaders in Washington shouldn't start believing their own press releases. Go ahead and claim voters endorsed everything you stand for, but don't start acting like it's true. The American people did not suddenly decide they don't care about clean air, clean water, and a healthy climate.
The influence of money in politics in general and campaigns in particular is a staple of op-ed writers, late-night comedians and armchair pundits. As another Federal Election Commission reporting deadline looms, how bad does the public really think the problem is -- and what are they willing to do about it?
For decades, the United States has been the world's pre-eminent status quo power. The U.S. fought wars to reverse acts of aggression and restore the status quo in Kosovo and Kuwait. Now new aggressors believe they can threaten the status quo with impunity because the U.S. seems unwilling to stand up to them.
The shock is not only that a police officer killed an unarmed black teenager. That, tragically, has happened too many times before, and when the details remain murky, many people withhold judgment. The shock was that the police response to the protests was so hugely disproportionate, "like an invading army."
On the surface, not much appears to be changing. The percentage of Americans who say they sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians -- 51 percent in a Pew poll last month -- has held fairly steady since the last Gaza fighting broke out in 2006. nder the surface, however, partisans have been moving apart.