As I was relaxing on the couch last night watching some T.V. and reading the news online, it was just after dinner and the phone rang. Normally, if it is a number on the caller i.d. that I do not recognize, I can safely assume that it is some sort of telemarketer/pollster/charity. I am on the "Do Not Call" lists but every once in a while a solicitor squeaks through and I have to tell them they will be reported unless they remove me from their call logs. If it is a pollster, depending on what their topic is, I may take a few minutes and answer some of their questions. Such was the case last night.
The phone call started off with the pollster stating his name and the topic of inquiry, it was science and research and for the life of me I cannot remember his name, though it doesn't matter. I asked him how long the poll would take, "five to ten minutes" he said, which turned out to be wholly untrue because after the first question the call lasted ten seconds or less.
His first question was, "You don't have to attend church regularly, but what denomination would you most closely identify yourself with, Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Other or no affiliation?".
My response was, "None, actually... I am an atheist".
And, that is where the survey ended. He replied politely, "Thank you for your time, but the quota for that group has already been filled." Click.
WTF? The atheist quota was full? How can that be? At best estimates, the atheist population in America is a little over ten percent and a conservative number hovers around eight percent. How could that quota be full while there was still room in the Christian hopper for more respondents. I would think the survey would be looking for an equal number from each belief group to get a nice cross section of responses.
After I thought about it for a minute, it occurred to me that the poll was not actually trying to get a cross section of the citizenry. More likely, they were looking for opinion of science and scientific research from theists, they did not want the godless to 'skew' their results with highly favorable opinions of the topics.
The only reason the religion question would be present in a poll regarding scientific research is if the poll is intended to illustrate a difference of opinions between faiths. At that point, you would take equal number of respondents from each group to illustrate the difference.
Other than that there is no reason to ask a religious question on the outset of a poll regarding science unless you were truly not concerned with getting a 'random' sample of the population and wished to control the outcome of the poll.
A true 'random' sample poll of the general public would make the sampling number large enough to account for a fair representation of the different faiths without having to ask the question.
Again, the only reason this question would be asked on the outset is to skew the numbers.
Well, Bullshit! If this poll was what I suspect, it was most likely a group wanting to 'promote' the idea that certain theories or research do not have much support and then make an argument from popularity.
Via: Info Paradox