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Quotes of the Day for 16 November 2003 – Opinion

George Horace Gallup was born at Jefferson, Iowa on this day in 1901. As a student at the University of Iowa he was named editor of The Daily Iowan, and commenced to stop random readers of the paper and ask details about their interests, what they read in the last issue, what they remembered - and used this information to craft a better newspaper. This research became the basis of his doctoral dissertation at the same school. He was hired by the advertising agency Young and Rubicam in 1932, becoming the first ever market-research director at an agency. In 1935 he started his own firm and launched the Gallup Poll. Working out of an office above Woolworth's at Princeton, New Jersey his method predicted the landslide reelection of FDR in 1936. The highly-respected Literary Digest conducted an expensive telephone poll of two million voters and predicted Alf Landon would prevail. Gallup and his poll are household names, Literary Digest is now just a footnote. Here, then, some thoughts on Opinion.

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The quotes:

One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.
     - Bertrand Russell, 1872 - 1970

I had grown tired of standing in the lean and lonely front line facing the greatest enemy that ever confronted man - public opinion.
     - Clarence Seward Darrow, 1857 - 1938

All power, even the most despotic, rests ultimately on opinion.
     - David Hume, 1711 - 1776

Englishmen will never be slaves; they are free to do whatever the government and public opinion allow them to do.
     - George Bernard Shaw, 1856 - 1950

Polling is merely an instrument for gauging public opinion. When a president or any other leader pays attention to poll results, he is, in effect, paying attention to the views of the people. Any other interpretation is nonsense.
     - George Horace Gallup

The feeble tremble before opinion, the foolish defy it, the wise judge it, and the skillful direct it.
     - Jeane Platiere


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