24 July 2007

Who cares what we think?

Every morning when I check out KTUU's web site, my stomach sort of twists when I see KTUU's latest survey of its viewers on the pressing issue of the day. Normally, the question is some sort of innocuous, leading question of the viewers and I pay it little attention. But I found this one particularly fantastic:

Do you think there will be another major oil discovery on the North Slope?

Definitely 35 percent
Probably 44 percent
Doubtful 21 percent

Well, you can rest assured, Alaska's fiscal future is safe. All those worry-wart legislators in Juneau clearly don't have their fingers on the pulse of their constituents. All those geologists and wildcat explorers in the general public used their collective wisdom and came up with a solid answer to this question.

This, I believe, is what we call the wish being the father of the thought.

My general problem is that even though there is always the "this is an unscientific poll caveat," they are never treated as such. They are reported on and read about and have a similar effect, I imagine, as any other poll. And we are never told how many people bothered to respond to the poll so we can't even get a sense of who is bothering to respond.

How come there's never a "this is a stupid question" choice to these polls?

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