Polls Can Easily Become A Tool Of Totalitarianism
BC is experiencing a deluge of organized attacks and destabilization maneuvers to force more funding for government schools.
Even though throughout the rest of the world the same constraints on public spending are being felt, and school spending is seriously being cut back, BC seems to be experiencing more than its share of grief from the lobbies which benefit from the education tax dollar.
Thus, we see the call for more funding for public service workers – teachers — in our schools, rather than more efficient spending of money. That independent schools do “more with less” is a thorn in the side of the public government schools.
On another blog, one in Ontario (School for Thought), we were discussing tools of totalitarianism and how the media was used to ensnare citizens to totalitarian thinking. The article started out with Hitler having said “Your child belongs to us already”’ and then we discussed how a totalitarian state used propaganda techniques to brainwash.
I contributed a classic case of how polls can be used to contribute to totalitarianism and I provided the link to the Vancouver Sun story about the Angus Reid poll: “Most British Columbians want more public-school funding: poll”.
This poll was commissioned by a group whose aim is in the name: BC Society for Public Education. Therefore, you know that they lobby for more public education and, of course, for less competition from independent schools. And that is what the poll delivered.
Briefly, there were three questions: 1) Should the government do more to support public education; 2) to increase funding for public education, and 3) to continue funding private schools? The scores were 81% YES 79% YES and 64% NO. What an outstanding result! It garnered considerable mileage in the press and meetings. The poll achieved what the client wanted.
The newspaper, however, through its blogging ability, received over 100 comments and, unfortunately (for the lobby), some serious questions were raised:
1. Were the questions loaded? Or leading?
2. Isn’t Angus Reid polling rather questionable considering they are left-wing and support massive social spending? Don’t they use questionable polling techniques, that is, online polling?
3. Who is behind this poll and who pays?
1. See the pdf for the questions http://www.scribd.com/full/30311572?access_key=key-u1vfkvolw0eiygqp0qj
Note how the preamble leads to a “correct” answer. How it “primes the pump”, so to speak, for the waterworks to follow. The questions were well “crafted”, manufactured.
2. The online polling is questionable. The “random selection” was done from the Angus Reid Forum, a self-volunteered array of citizens who get points for surveys taken, and qualify for monthly awards of $1000, $100, or other perks. The left-wing swing of the principal of the company is well noted in his writings.
3. The group commissioning the poll has been in place since 2005 and with Board members long associated with “progressive” activism, including Patti Bacchus, current chair of the VSB. (Wouldn’t they just love to deflect an accounting probe away from the VSB?) Two current BCSPE Board members, Helesia Luke and Catherine Evans, run a communications, public relations, guerilla marketing company. Their literature includes these statements: “How you ask questions is important – language matters”, and “Asking questions influences groups in some way.” Funding for BCSPE and expensive polls – who know?
What if, what if the poll did have more credibility. That is, what if a disinterested group (one without an agenda or self-interest) commissioned a poll on these issues? Suppose someone, just for an academic exercise, repeated such a survey, but with a different slant to the questions and preamble, could they have achieved a result of 81% NO, 79 % NO to more support or funding for public education, and 64% YES for continued funding for private schools?
The headlines would scream: “8 out of 10 British Columbians want government to stop supporting and funding public education: poll”. “2 out of 3 want more funding for private schools: poll”.
Wishful thinking? SURPRISE. The Angus Reid Chief Research Officer, Andrew Grenville, coincidentally on the same day as the BCSPE newsrelease came out (Apr 21, 2010), illustrates my point — that with the right questions you can get exactly 180 degree different answers, 100% opposites! Please see this article: Why The Way You Ask a Question Can Determine The Answer. http://www.visioncritical.com/2010/04/why-the-way-you-ask-a-question-can-determine-the-answer/
So, is this education underfunding crisis in BC a magnificent example of engineering disinformation and propaganda by ideological stakeholders? Isn’t that how agent provocateurs work?