Opinion polls: how to get the answer you want

The Sydney Morning Herald is in a state of high excitement today, as a new poll gives it a “two fingers up to deniers” moment (admittedly copied almost verbatim from the UK equivalent, The Guardian here):

EUROPEANS believe the dangers of climate change represent a more serious problem than the current financial turmoil, according to a major new poll.

The Eurobarometer poll found most people in the European Union consider global warming to be one of the world’s most serious problems, with one-fifth saying it is the single most serious problem.

Overall, respondents said climate change was the second most serious issue facing the world, after poverty.

Connie Hedegaard, European climate commissioner, said: ”This is encouraging news. The survey shows that the citizens of Europe can see that economic challenges are not the only ones we face. A clear majority of Europeans expect their politicians and business leaders to address the serious climate challenge now.” (source)

So as always, we check the questions, and here is the relevant extract from the lengthy PDF:

Loaded much?

So not only is the question headed “Climate Change”, but the first option on each answer is, that’s right, “Climate change”. And I am pretty sure that those asking the questions would have prefaced each interview with a spiel about how this was a poll about attitudes in Europe towards climate change as well, so the purpose of the questions would have been well and truly embedded in the respondents’ minds before the questions were even asked. And hey, we all want to give the “right” answer don’t we? But we must give them credit for the fact that even after all that badgering, they still put “Poverty, hunger and lack of drinking water” above climate change.

Furthermore, this is an opinion poll conducted on behalf of the climate change apparatchiks in Europe, as the disclosure statement reveals:

“This survey has been requested by the Directorate-General Climate action…

And the Introduction further reveals the inherent bias in the entire process:

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the modern age. The European Commission established its Directorate-General for Climate Action in February 2010 to strengthen Europe’s response to this issue (previously climate change was under the overall remit of DG Environment). 

So the weight we can place on these results is very suspect. But as usual, neither the SMH nor The Guardian asks any of these questions, and regurgitate the line without any critical thought, because it fits their pro-climate action agenda.

Ben Pile at Climate Resistance has more:

So here’s how it works… You take people by surprise. You ask them to chose from a narrow range of issues. And then you ask them again. And Again. And again. You don’t give them the benefit of making a decision in the context of a debate. And you don’t canvass them for their opinion about costs and benefits, either ‘globally’ or in relation to themselves. You don’t tell them that the results will be used to legitimise certain policies. You compare their opinions to a historic low, and say that the answers demonstrate growing support for your policies — the bases of which have never been tested for popular assent at the ballot box.

And EU Referendum here.

Comments

  1. Global warming, is a fraud!!!!!!!

  2. Colin S Tonks via Facebook says:

    Hegelian Dialectic ….

  3. That runs contrary to all of the other polls that have come out in the last few years. In one poll in the Uk, it was only rated as the most serious ENVIRONMENTAL issue (to say nothing of other issues) by one fifth of the public.

  4. And they want an inquiry into the media…

  5. Peter Dun says:

    Jeff Id gets a different result completely! http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2011/10/08/polling-the-educated/

  6. Gerry Gee via Facebook says:

    Keep dreaming

  7. Tim french says:

    Anything that comes out of the EUssr is always a pack of lies,
    This is how dictatorships have always worked just so they can continue their agenda by issueing false propaganda statements,
    The AGW issue is being used as another method for controlling peoples lives & nothing more.

  8. GIVE JULIA THE BOOT says:

    Be interesting for a mathematician to comment on analysing statistical data gathered in this manner.

    I humbly suggest that this is the loaded gun method of gathering and disseminating sure fire results

  9. Courtney Mahoney via Facebook says:

    Ahh wow. The manipulation of statistics continues…

  10. Geoff Cass says:

    When an Opinion Poll is pre-determined because of the manner the poll is phrased, it stops being a Poll !! Rather similar to the old story of the question ” Answer Yes or No: Have you stopped beating your wife ?

  11. Geoff Cass says:

    Reminds me of the old lawyer’s question – “You must answer Yes or No to this – Have you stopped beating your wife ?”

  12. The theory of AGW is more or less the same as half of the other issues (population, energy.. et cetera). The poll just shows how widely misunderstood the ‘issue’ is to the common man or woman, that hasn’t looked into the spectrum. If people were actually concerned about AGW/ACC, then they should realize that the actual ‘crisis’ is our sources of energy. Acting like children in a dark closet, making themselves believe that there are hidden monsters waiting to attack, and mindlessly hoping for someone to ‘tackle’ the monster, isn’t going to help anyone.

  13. Leading questions in opinion polls are a well know marketing technique where you want to skew a result to a particular bias.

    Then, once you have your desired result you can make statements such as: “respondents said climate change was the second most serious issue facing the world, after poverty.”

    However, the following statement can also be said to be true about the results: “Four out of five Europeans disagree with the people who say that climate change is the biggest problem in the world. ”

    “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” (unknown)

  14. Sean McHugh says:

    Clearly, for anyone answering the poll, this is a “do you believe in catastrophic AGW?” survey. Even if only 20% believe so and made it their priority, all else being equal, the AGW concern would win. That is because the other 80% would divide their vote equally among the other ten options. It’s a trick all right.

  15. It’s strange how another Eurobarometer poll, taken in June 2011, found different results. See page 13 of the PDF file here: Attitudes of European citizens towards the environment.

    The question relating to the environment: “From the following list, please pick the five main environmental issues that you are worried about,” gave the following results:
    1. Man-made disasters – 42% (Up 3% from the 2007 survey)
    2. Water pollution – 41% (Down 1%)
    3. Air pollution – 36% (Down 4%)
    4. Chemicals used in everyday products – 34% (Up 2%)
    5. Climate Change – 34% (Down 23% from the 2007 survey)

    So 66% of Europeans don’t equate climate change as the most significant environmental issue and 23% less Europeans think that now, than they did in 2007. Which makes you wonder about the benefit and objectives of such surveys like the one the SMH spruikes.

  16. Bryan Harris says:

    The Eurobarometer poll

    Any poll or information that the EU puts out is politically slanted – they don’t know how to do anything any other way… they specalise in spin and lies..

    There’s a clue in the name of the poll, IE: “EU” – anything that has this in the title should ring alarm bells, because we will know it will be based on false and inaccurate information and be designed to propogate some socialist led EU ideal or dogma.

    We Brit’s are used to this crap now…. but please Australia, take anything you hear from the EU propoganda machine with a very VERY large pinch of salt.

    • Richard N says:

      Spot on! We now have periodic visits from EU “climate change experts” who seem only to want to congradulate Gillard on her idiotic carbon tax .

      • Bryan Harris says:

        The EU are adept at introducing measures with the minimuim of democratic process…. no doubt giving your pm some tips

        Now is the time to shout and scream about the lack of democratic legitimacy… what seems like short steps towards control of our lives by the unelected is actually a big step in the wrong direction.

        These damn socialists always want to pass the buck so “nobody” is responsible for what happens and nobody can be sacked.

        Please be very wary of any EU activities or connivencies…

  17. it is the same with all the polls. elections are a good one. pollsters troll the electoral results and pick the suburbs that supported the party they want to report as good. Last election which showed labor as winning polled only labor seats and then only included a few liberal voters that happened to be called. I know as a friend of mine worked for a company that did the research. He left in disgust at the biased reporting.

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