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I think this experiment does more to show the ineffectiveness of surveys than it does to imply that the subjects are fools.



In what way does it show ineffectiveness of surveys ? not challennging the assertion, trying to understand why you think so.

To me it seemed to be an indication of what was stated in the article, that people are less committed to their views than they imagine.

I would go one step further and conjecture that we have a tendency to defend a position, when confronted with "evidence" that we have endorsed that view before. I expect this to work on moral positions on which our convictions are not solid.

@pyre My confusion was not about whether surveys can be manipulated. I can well imagine that they can be. My question was more in the lines of: where in linked post is it demonstrated. Sometimes I dont read between the lines enough and thought I must have missed something. And yes, who in their right mind would want to leave any children behind ! Its mostly semantic gymanstics

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  > In what way does it show ineffectiveness of surveys?
Surveys are often manipulated. IIRC, there was a 'survey' a while back with regards to whether or not people wanted Congress to force ala carte pricing on cable providers. The question was something like "Would you like your cable provider to provide you with a better, wider selection of channels?" The majority answered yes. This was touted as, "Survey says that taxpayers don't want ala carte cable," by vested interests.

Take this with a grain of salt, because my memory on this is a little fuzzy, but even as a parable, I think it conveys the point I'm trying to make.

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I'd agree with you conjecture, and would totally imagine myself reverting opinions on past decisions depending on the degree of interest I have on the matter.

The 53% number in the article was about reversing position on at least one question. It should mean most of the subject retracted their aledged answer on the other questions, probably the one or two were the faked answer was embraced are questions with no strong positionning.

The article doesn't give details on the strength of the reversed opinions, although the survey sheet seems to have a 7 or 8 point scale for each question. I'd guess this detail was brished out for dramatic effect?

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>In what way does it show ineffectiveness of surveys ? not challennging the assertion, trying to understand why you think so. >To me it seemed to be an indication of what was stated in the article, that people are less committed to their views than they imagine.

The problem is that a survey result is a pretty meaningless number if it can be changed by anyone you put on television with a fancy suit and a pie chart. What you really want to know from a survey is a) what the people who feel strongly think about it, i.e. the people who can't be swayed by an ad buy or a newscast, and b) what portion of the population are those people and what portion are the ones who can be easily swayed. But if people are overestimating how strongly they're committed to their answers then they're contaminating both results: The second directly and the first indirectly by inserting the uninformed answers of the disinterested into the sample that ostensibly measures those with strong feelings.

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I agree with everything you're saying, except for the fact that you've got the assumption in there that the purpose of a survey is to genuinely understand people's opinions on a subject rather than to claim support for your own position or even to influence the views of the people you are surveying.

This may be a semantics thing, but surveys are extremely effective - just not as a tool for understanding opinions.

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So you agree with Dr. Hall? Or there is some other effect that's missing in the article?

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I think the headline of the original article was misleading.

It's not necessarily that the surveyors' moral compasses are confused than that opinions are more nuanced than agree / disagree.

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