Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Things that bug me, #1

Polls. But in this particular case, I'm narrowing it down to the poll question "Do you approve or disapprove of the direction the country is headed?" -- because it is a question devoid of context - and therefore can only have a meaningless answer.

About the only meaningful thing you can glean from an "approve" or "disapprove" answer is that the respondant is happy or unhappy about ... something.

Polls questions like this are designed to be used to argue -- pretty much anything you want, since the question and answer are devoid of meaning, you can apply the answer to anything you like.

"61% responded they disapprove of the direction the country is headed, so we should pull out of Iraq as soon as possible."

Now maybe I was thinking about the popularity of Paris Hilton and/or reality shows when I said I disapproved of the direction the country was headed. Perhaps I was worried about the trend away from state soveriegnty to power grabs at the federal government level. Maybe I think that government by Judicial fiat is very far from what Jefferson & Adams had in mind. Perhaps I disapprove of one-way multiculturalism. But no. This person wants us out of Iraq, so that's clearly what it means. We're in Iraq. Ergo if you said you are unhappy with the direction the country is headed, that means you want us out.

It can be applied to anything that "is" that you would like to change. Before last fall's election, it was used to "show" that Americans wanted a Democratic-controlled congress. But now that we have one, if we took that poll today it would almost certainly not mean that anymore. It must mean we hate Bush, or we don't like the last two Supreme Court appointments, or that we want an open border with Mexico and wish to grant citizenship to anyone who makes it across.

Perhaps it means that America really wants us to be subject to some world government body such as the U.N. . Maybe it means we should capitulate to Islamists. Or that we should all become Vegans. See? It doesn't matter. It can mean anything you want it to.

"61% disapprove of 'the direction the country is headed'" -- therefore, do what I say.

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