Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Same question - different answers.

I was looking at some polling questions recently that really brought home to me how biased polls can be. All you have to do is ask the 'right' question to get the answer you want!
For example, as most of you know I am a Liberal (Dictionary definition- generous, tolerant of differing views, broadminded, not conventional, favoring reform and progress, open minded to ideas that challenge tradition, etc!) so as you can imagine I am in favor of trying to help to preserve the world - and its climate! I would also like to make jobs and work, by achieving a cleaner world, including it's water, air etc.

So, if I were to conduct a poll, my question might be:-
Should we make more jobs by competing in the race to end reliance on oil and coal, and work to produce clean energy?

Another person might say:-
Should we not attempt to get into making windmills, energy efficient cars and appliances and just rely on foreign manufacturers?

And yet another one - getting to be the most popular question of all:-
Do you believe the communist Obama administration, in league with Liberal Environmentalists, is trying to destroy our country with the myth of Global Warming?

So you see, we all frame the questions to get the answers we want. That is why polls get such varying answers. A poll conducted by CNN news will differ from one conducted by FOX news, one given by an environmental group will differ from one given by far right conservatives. What is the answer? I certainly don't know! Do you?

Obviously we are all biased, but how do those biases form? Are we programmed by our parents, our experiences as children, as teenagers, as adults, by our peers, by our exposure to nothing but one side - FOX news, CNN news? A life changing experience or tragedy, like a flood, a child with asthma, a religious awakening, a health ordeal? Who knows.

Having mentioned Health just there, here are a couple of points to emphasize how we are manipulated by polls or by statements that when repeated over and over become "true", even though if we spent just a few minutes thinking about them or researching them they are obviously blatantly untrue. Just as something advertised repeatedly on TV, radio, newspapers, magazines becomes "True", just by it's repetition, so do statements that if we engaged our brains for a few minutes it would be evident to us that they are untrue. I refer to such statements as, "Don't take away my health care." or "The death panels will kill off the old and sick." By repeating these silly things over and over people believe them and will defend them to the death, even though with few minutes of reflection by the average person they are obviously untrue. No such things may have ever been suggested by anyone, but by inventing them and then repeating them over and over, more and more people think that they have been proposed and are true. That is the power of suggestion, it doesn't matter how far out it is, if we want to, we will believe it. Believe me!

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