Sunday, March 9, 2014

Survey Says

This morning I was thinking about surveys and how answers are directed. It dawned on me that you are seldom allowed to really give your true opinion. Most of the time these surveys are set to only allow certain responses, then the corporation is allowed to say things like, “Ninety-eight percent of Americans say…” Well, according to the survey, what else were they allowed to say?

How can these surveys be correct? How can we believe any of it? Most of the time there are no simple yes or no answers and how often do you see “It depends” as one of the choices. For instance, a question might be “What color is water?” The choices given could be A. blue, B. green, C. clear. But, doesn’t it depend on how deep is the water, where the water is, what the bottom is like or the amount of sun that shines on the surface, tannins, etc. These types of questions force people to reply in very limited terms.

For that matter, what color is the sky? Doesn’t it depend on the weather? Is it day or night? Even choosing blue, what shade of blue? Are there clouds? What kind of clouds? You might be asked if you are for this or against that but you cannot ask for clarity and can only answer to a set of parameters.

When I think about this, I realize that all surveys are geared to only allow certain responses. We are herded like sheep to think one way or another. They do not let people think for themselves or come up with their own answers. If it’s not this, then there can only be one or two other choices?

I refuse to participate in surveys when I am told how to respond. Even these “Win a free” such and such by answering a few questions is a way to channel thought. Maybe this is why even as a student I preferred essay questions to multiple choice. I wanted to think for myself. So often I see a list of questions and the answers allowed and my first thought is “None of these answers fit.”

So, think about this the next time you participate in a survey. Are you being asked for your honest opinion or are you being “herded?”