Thursday, December 14, 2006


I once heard someone claim there was a poll that showed students supported affirmative action on campus. This intrigued me, since every poll I'd ever seen showed they didn't.

So he pulls out the poll, and what did it ask? Something about do you think it's a good thing to have a diverse student body. This is not the question you ask if you want to know if someone supports affirmative action. This is the question you ask if you want to avoid knowing if someone supports affirmative action. (If you really want to know, you ask "do you support affirmative action?")

It could be worse. Imagine a poll that asks what should we do with child molesters, and only offers two choices--torture them or set them free.

Here's the headline and sub for a recent LA Times poll: Majority Support Pullout Timeline--Results Suggest Bush, Who Has Rejected The Idea Of A Timetable, Is Out Of Step With Public Opinion On The Iraq War.

Here are the four choices given: 1) "Troops should be withdrawn on a fixed timetable," 2) "Troops should be kept in Iraq to secure the country," 3) "More troops should be sent" and 4) "Don't know."

Got it? The choice is between bringing the troops home on a timetable or never bringing them home. I would have thought many, perhaps most, Americans agree with me--let's bring them home, but only at the proper time based on the general situation; a fixed timetable allows the terrorists and others to wait us out.

This poll seems to be designed either by incompetents or people with contempt for the truth.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many online polls (though they duly note they are non-scientific and don't really reflect anyone's opinion). Check out the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) question of the day. The choices are often arbitrary and limiting (though they allow written commentary).
I haven't always seen evidence that the professional polling is much better. Hell, Give me the funding and I will conduct a poll using methods accepted by the industry and I could produce support for any position you want on Iraq (or other complicated issue)

6:17 AM, December 14, 2006  

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