Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Friday, March 31, 2006

How to Manipulate a Poll 101

Cherry picking. AMERICAblog has a post that shows just how the phrasing of questions, or just plain spinning of data, can manipulate the results of a poll.

AMERICAblog claims that the first edition of Public Agenda's foreign policy confidence poll, from last August, found that 64% of Americans believe the U.S. is unable to "force" democracy overseas. However, if you actually read the poll, it found that 64% of respondents didn't think, or didn't know if, the U.S. could "effectively help" other nations become democratic. Yet, half of respondents gave America an "A" or "B" for making the effort, and half also thought that spreading democracy will help reduce violence and conflict in the world.

But wait, it gets stranger. In the latest release of the poll, 66% of respondents said that "actively creating democracies in other countries" is very or somewhat important as a foreign policy goal(!), and 69% of Americans said "minding our own business and getting less involved in global issues" is very or somewhat important. Does that make sense? No, I didn't think so, either.

I think what both these polls say is that Americans have so manipulated by spin machines on both sides of the political spectrum, they really don't know what the hell they think!