All the (great!) talk about Pitchfork’s People’s List is making me think about the idea of a nationally representative poll that asked people about their favorite albums. What would that be like? What would it mean? Is it even a thing we desire? The 12% representation of women in the voter pool for the Pitchfork list is highly problematic, but we wouldn’t necessarily be interested in the results from a true national sample, either. Why would we want to know, again, that most people like the Beatles? What the poll was an attempt to do was to capture the opinions of a particular subpopulation - “Pitchfork readers,” a legitimate subpopulation of interest - that’s hard to define without just getting people to opt-in. A poll of those people that actually reflected the demographics of the readership would be great. But again: is that even something we’re interested in? Do we actually want to know the list of albums most people who read Pitchfork think are the best albums, or are we really interested in seeing what happens when we urge people who read Pitchfork to tell us what their favorite albums are? That seems to be the important thread running through all the commentary I’ve seen: not that the big list is meaningful, but the way the process played out was, with the final tally as an indicator of what happened. (Which is why it’s so nice the website lets you break it down by demographics.) We’re talking about, and seeing, are polling effects, not polling results.
Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is that the World Values Survey should really, really, really include a “What’s your favorite album?” question on their next round.
I also think this is why the most interesting part of the list is the “Distinction Index”, because that seems like a better representation of what people might actually like, instead of just going with the flow of previous critical consensus. For example, it’s a lot easier for me to believe that 58% of people ages 16-20 think highly of Goblin than the idea that that same group really thinks an album that came out before they were five (OK Computer) is the best of the past 15 years.
I’d be interested to know in more detail how the ‘Distinction Index’ was calculated, although my knowledge of statistics is fairly limited and superficial. Does the percentage figure mean that proportion of whatever group (gender, age, location) gave a vote to that album, or is it more complex?
The distinction index can’t be “proportion of [group] who voted for this”, the percentages are way too high - and it would mean the distinction index and the points were the same. It also probably can’t be what I initially thought it was, i.e. “% of votes for this album from this demographic group” because the male only indices are too low, only one tops the 88% figure which you’d expect to be average. I then thought, OK, it’s an index which has been repurposed as a percentage for some reason, i.e. 50% would be 150 on an index? But then the figures seem really low, given how niche some of the records are. So I don’t know.
Incidentally I don’t think there’s a useful distinction between “go with the flow” and “actually like”, we’re an animal that learns by copying etc etc.