If you read tech news today, expect to see a story making the rounds concerning a "consumer poll" rating the iPad versus the Galaxy Tab. According to the report, an "overwhelming majority" of consumers prefer Apple's tablet over its nearest Android competitor -- a whopping 85 percent of those queried felt the iPad had a higher perceived value than the Tab. Sounds shocking, right? Except there's one small problem. The "survey" (and really, you have to use the term loosely here) consisted of 65 people. Let's just say that again: 65 respondents. That's problem number one.

Problem number two is that the survey was conducted by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who is not only using a bizarre and somewhat useless metric like "perceived value" to judge these devices, but is also known for wildly miscalculating sales numbers and expectations for Apple products. In fact, Gene Munster should probably be close to the top of the most wanted list for irresponsible analysts. Some of his famous misses? Take the wildly speculative report that Apple would sell 5.6m iPads in 2010 (a baseless prediction which he quickly reassessed to more reasonable digits... the day after the device's launch), or the prediction that Apple would build its own search engine (so far so good!), and of course, Gene's news that Apple will have an HDTV on the market by 2011. Did we mention the $1,000 AAPL stock price call? No? Okay.

So this latest report, in which Gene apparently just polled the families living on his block, seems beyond disingenuous. The margin of error on a group of 65 people is so high that it makes the results of the iPad vs. Galaxy Tab study all but meaningless, and further demonstrates the insidious, dangerous power of some analysts and their fantasy football stock manipulations. The moral of the story? Next time you see the names Gene and Munster in the same sentence, don't just take the news with a grain of salt -- use the whole shaker.

Update: Piper Jaffray analyst Andrew Murphy (one of the other researchers on this report) got in touch and gave us some background on the sourcing and methodology for finding respondents. In his words:
The respondents were chosen randomly on their way in/out of a large national retail chain. After spending time with each device, they were asked which they'd prefer and what a reasonable price for each would be.
It's worth noting that that information is found nowhere in the report itself, nor is any other detail provided (type of store, geographic location, age / socioeconomic background, etc.), though this charming section is included:
Research Disclosures

Piper Jaffray was making a market in the securities of Apple, Inc. at the time this research report was published. Piper Jaffray will buy and sell Apple, Inc. securities on a principal basis.