Journalist and adman, academician and market researcher George Horace Gallup, a pioneer of survey sampling techniques and creator of the Gallup Poll, was born on this day in 1901.
Polls are a bane or a blessing ... that determination usually being made on a case-by-case basis, and depending not so much upon their general effectiveness or accuracy, but rather on how their results square with our own, personal point-of-view. Sometimes, we also err on just what we ask the numbers to do, or how we "spin" them to suit our purposes.
All of which doesn't take away from the fact that polls are an effective tool, thanks to people like George Gallup. Sure, sometimes the numbers erred - "Dewey Defeats Truman," anyone? But if the pollsters know and love their craft, those errors are used to develop better methodologies for polling, and better procedures for analysis.
Here is his write-up on Wikipedia, and a nice Time Magazine profile of the man and his methods, from 1948. And from the businesses of which he was once part, here is his bio page at gallup.com, and a tribute page at Gallup & Robinson.