Seeking “Truth”: My Process for Critically Assessing Information

OK, so I recently started working for CIRCLE ( and one of my first tasks was to share data and analysis on a recent poll on young Americans 18 to 29 and their attitudes towards the upcoming  election , leading policy issues, their involvement with civic organizations, methods that influence their voting behavior and a range of other questions.  The data and initial post about this poll can be found here —

So today, in one of my RSS feeds I came across this article that talked about “The Great Millenial Meltdown” —  –   I was interested in reading this article because the data in the polled analyzed at CIRCLE did show that 18-29 year olds are most concerned about the economy and jobs as an issue.  However, as I read the post the article, which referenced a poll that was released in December of 2011 stated a number of things about youth economic status that were in contradiction to the CIRCLE analyzed poll.  They also stated some things about the effects of social media on voting behavior of youth that were also in contradiction.

Before I left the The Washington Free Beacon website I wanted to get a bit more information about it as a source.  What I could gather from other articles posted, is that the publication had lots of articles very critical of President Obama and very critical of government.  My assumption was that the ideological bent of this publications was conservative and probably libertarian.  This helped me put the Millenial Meltdown piece in a bit more context.

So, next I wanted to find out more about this poll to see how they did the sampling and what the questions were.  I was hoping that this information would explain the discrepancies between the poll I had been involved with and the poll referenced in this article.  There was a helpful link in the article that said “polled 600 young Americans” which led me here –

Rather than being led directly to the poll or the poll data, this was a press release about the poll.  From this press release the data about economic effects on young Americans were confirmed as well as the social media use.  From this press release it appeared that the poll was commissioned by Generation Opportunity and conducted by the polling company, inc./WomanTrend (April 16 – 22, 2011, +/- 4% margin of error).  So from this it is clear that the information is now more than a year and three months old.  So clearly youth attitudes could have shifted since that poll and the CIRCLE analyzed poll.

So from here I wanted to find out more about Generation Opportunity.  They clearly were interested in engaging 18 to 29 year olds and had an interest in using social media. I went to the main page of the website  –  There were some datapoints about the April 2011 poll on the main page, but still no link to the data or the details of the poll.  I then tried to find out who was involved in Generation Opportunity (  I could find no actual staffers listed, only supporters.  This is never a good sign.  Makes me think the organization is hiding something.

I then went to Google to see if I could fid out more about Generation Opportunity and then found this –  This  page does an excellent job of deconstructing Generation Opportunity and providing context and real details   They also reference facts from Pew that are more in alignment with the CIRCLE analyzed poll.   I then went to the “About”  page on Future Majority ( it is clear that this organization is interested in progressive youth organizing and are very transparent about it.  So now I had the context of this post.

I then thought I’d research the polling company that did the Generation Opportunity poll and it would appear that Inc./WomanTrend ( is headed up by KellyAnne Conway who is referenced in the Future Majority post as one of the key folks in setting up Generation Opportunity.  I have been unable to unearth the methodology of the April 2011 poll or any of the toplines.  So after about 10 minutes worth of work, I don’t have much faith in the data it shares but do have more of a context for it as being put out to support a conservative point of view.

I was also confident that the poll I was involved in was closer to a truth.