Bad Survey Design
Surveys are notoriously difficult to write. If a proper survey is to be conducted, the questions must be as close to absolutely neutral as possible. No hint in the wording or construction of the question can be allowed to suggest one answer over another. The answers themselves must be worded such that no opinion choice listed appears more “correct” or “preferred”, at least from the perspective of the survey. It’s very tough to do and that’s why firms that produce them well (Gallup is an example) are paid handsomely and are very busy indeed. Surveys so constructed are very useful in determining the opinions of the respondents. If the sampling is also done well, a very accurate depiction of the opinions and trends of thought within the target population can be made.
Then there’s surveys that are blatant propaganda attempts. How about this question:
Do you think U.S. Troops should have to serve under United Nations’ commanders?
Now just how many Americans do you think you’d find who’d be willing to commit their sons & daughters and the military might of this country to the command of a general from, say, Burundi? Or France? Or Syria? This question is worded in such a way as to make a “yes” answer seem so obviously wrong and bad that it should simply be changed to “Please check ‘Yes’ in the square to the right.” Then there’s the loaded questions that ask you if you support a given person or organization’s efforts to do some very positive thing, assuming in the question that the efforts of the aforementioned person is actually likely to produce that thing. Again, it’s either a poorly constructed survey or a poorly concealed propaganda attempt very likely to be followed up by a request for a donation. I happen to be looking at one of those right here next to me. It’s the Republican Party Census Document.
I’m a Republican. I’m all for a fiscally responsible government that keeps it’s hands, eyes, ears, and other body parts out of a citizen’s life to the greatest extent possible. I’m for a strong military, strong enough to make any other nation on earth so absolutely sure they’d lose an engagement with us that they won’t even try. I’m a Second Amendment champion and I believe strongly in the citizens’ individual right to keep and bear arms. I feel that a carry-concealed weapon law should be passed at the Federal level so I can get licensed to carry in all 50 States. I’m Pro-Choice. Uh-oh. Some die-hard Republican reading this out there had a smile on their face right up to that point. Yes, you read that right. When I said government ought to keep their noses out of a citizen’s life as much as possible, I was talking about the women citizens, too. Their pregnancy, their body, their choice. Seems like such a no-brainer to me that I can’t really fathom that there’s a debate on the subject. Teach your kids as best you can and take care yourself so you can hopefully avoid the situation requiring you to make that choice, but if you have to make it I’d feel better that you make it than having Congressman Hastert or Senator Daschle do it for you.
I don’t have a problem with gay people and if they want to show up in front of a Judge and get married, let ‘em. Eight thousand gay boys can all go get married and it does precisely nothing to my marriage. My relationship with my wife and God is just fine, thank you, even if Ken and Ron tie the knot. More power to ‘em.
These are the things I want the Republican National Committee to know. I want them to know how I feel, where I stand. I want them to know I’m not alone, too – that fellow Republicans feel the same way all over. So when I started to read the letter that came with this “Census”, I was very pleased. I was going to get to participate in the RNC’s processes. That feeling lasted all of 11 sentences. Then I ran into this little gem: Should we allow religious and charitable groups to do more in reducing poverty so that those in need get the help they need to get back on track? Or should the government be able to continue discriminating against faith-based organizations?
Excuse me? First, show me anywhere that these efforts by these groups are actually doing anything to reduce poverty. Show me the figures that say that most, or many, or some, or a few of those so helped actually got “back on track.” And if they’re succeeding at these things, why do we need to change anything? Need I remind my colleagues at the RNC that the separation of Church and State was explicitly addressed by the Founding Fathers? That the government of the United States was specifically precluded from funding religious organizations so that neither the government nor the church could lay claim to influence on the other? And then there’s that second line that turns a merely bad question into an insulting slap in the face. Exactly what part of “I’m not giving my tax money to the Anglican Church” qualifies as discrimination? If that’s not it, where is this alleged discrimination showing up? Because some Senator somewhere can’t flow a couple thousand dollars to his home church in the latest Coast Guard appropriations bill we’re discriminating against them?
The survey is overflowing with questions that are so vaguely worded and yet only a “yes/no/undecided” answer is allowed. Example: Should small businesses be encouraged to grow and hire more workers? Well, duh, Bubba, let me thank ’bout thet won a spell. Nope, I think we should pass a law to crush those small business owners completely out of existence by next fall. Honestly, is anyone who’s not going out of their way to be an asshole going to answer anything but “yes”? And when they receive all 5527 responses back that say “yes” to that question, what exactly did that prove? What RNC policy is this supposed to be supporting? The letter doesn’t say. Same thing as with Do you think that the U.S. should modernize our national defense to meet the challenges of the 21st century? Nah – catapults were good enough before, let them just stay with those. Do you agree that teaching our children to read and increasing literacy rates should be a national priority? What? And have them capable of reading all that perverted sex crap those horrible liberal commie pinko scab-faced dogs put out there? Are you mad?
So, what to do? Here’s what I’m doing. First, I am NOT sending back this stupid census. Clearly they are not interested in my opinions, merely my check for “$500, $250, $100, $50, or even $25″. Second, I’m writing a letter back to them advising them that their “census” was bogus. If they’re interested in engaging in a real dialog on my views of the RNC’s platform, they can design a real survey, not some rubber-stamp, “yes-man” waste of paper. Then I’m sending it back to them in their return envelope.
Hey. It says no postage required. What nice people.
Would you pay $30 to watch an American-style football game played by teams of 7 models wearing lingerie? DaimerChrysler’s Dodge unit apparently thinks you will. The event is supposed to be a pay-per-view event during the half-time of the Super Bowl and, yes, it’s supposed to be a full-tackle game. Let’s examine this in more detail, shall we?
Seven (presumably lovely, tall, and willowy) models will dress up in lingerie of varying styles, step out onto a “field” or whatever, and line up against 7 other models similarly attired. The quarterback steps to to the center, calls out the signals and barks the order to snap the ball. At this point, the offensive and defensive line will immediately smack together as hard as they can, 1 side trying to get the quarterback and slam her down into the ground before she can let fly with whatever pass pattern she’s called. The other side is, of course, trying to prevent that from happening. The receivers are sprinting downfield along with their defensive cover trying to get into the clear so the QB can pass the ball before she’s turned into a lingerie-clad patee’. Now, eventually, someone’s going to have to make contact with someone else and that’s going to result in an impact. Impact on a human body can, and in American-style football games usually does, produce bruising. Abbrasions. Cuts, even. There might even be the rare broken nail.
Yeah, yeah, it’s a gimmick. I’m not entirely opposed to gimmicks, believe me. But this is just too transparent even for me. Let’s just cut the bullshit, walk the girls out in their teddies and bustiers and then have them strip and jump into the pool of jello for a big-old 7-on-7 grope match for the whole of halftime.
Now that’s entertainment!