Saturday, October 04, 2008

Sinking My Teeth into the Election

Earlier this evening, I was invited to participate in a public opinion survey related to the federal election on October 14. After half a dozen questions which had nothing at all to do with the election, I stopped the interview and decided to write to the president of the polling company instead. This experience only serves to confirm my suspicion that most public opinion surveys today are meant to mould public opinion rather than reveal it. In this, polling companies have become propaganda machines rather than reliable sources of information. Here's my message ...

Bruce Anderson, President

Harris/Decima Research

Dear Mr. Anderson,

I just finished hanging up on one of your company's representatives, who professed to be conducting a survey on the current Canadian general election but whose initial questions all seemed to be about dentistry. The questions were surprisingly invasive in nature, especially since your firm and I hardly know one another well enough to be on such a mouth-to-mouth basis. This leads me to wonder who was paying for the survey, why the survey was really being conducted, and what possible connection there could be between my dental hygiene and the federal election, unless it's somehow related to the stupid grin the prime minister has been wearing lately.

More significantly, though, the construction of this particular survey leads me to have grave doubts about the statistical integrity and reliability of surveys conducted by your firm. I cannot help but think that the skewed nature of your survey questions will produce skewed results, so that when I see Harris/Decima's name attached to a public opinion poll, I should likely dismiss it out of hand. After all, it can only represent the opinions of those lacking in personal dignity and healthy boundaries, which would have led an emotionally healthy person to hang up on your representative. Frankly, I don't care what such people might think about politics or dentistry.

In the future, when I see competing public opinion surveys reporting wildly different results, I will think of Harris/Decima and its tooth fetish. Obviously, either your firm's management or one of your clients believes there must be a correlation between dental hygiene and voting preferences but I cannot imagine what that might be, unless it's somehow related to the damage that candidates do to their teeth by so often putting their feet in their mouths.

Hmmm ... maybe I should have stayed on the line.


Rev. Stefan M. Jonasson

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