Ask stupid questions, get stupid answers

I got an email poll from my representative Lynn Woolsey.  I was willing to take the poll, even though it would mean newsletters from her, until I actually read the poll.  It’s a dishonest one, and makes intelligent responses impossible.

Here’s the whole email, with my comments in red:

As you may know, Congress is developing new energy legislation which could create millions of new ‘green collar’ jobs, end our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and confront the threat of global warming.  [We’ll just skip quickly past the fact that I think those “green collar” jobs are chimerical, that there are other ways than green to end the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, and the threat of global warming is a scam.]  I’m hoping to get your thoughts on this issue, so please complete this very brief survey and let me know what’s on your mind.  At the same time you can subscribe to my electronic newsletter and stay up to date on the latest news from Washington.


3 questions on energy

[The problem with the following series of three choices is there predicate, which is that there are only two sources of energy:  foreign fossil fuels and wacky, expensive, often polluting “green” sources.  There are a lot of Americans who believe in domestic drilling and extraction from domestic shale.  With those false choices, all poll results will be skewed.]

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  • David Foster

    “Energy independence” and “green-ness” are not the same thing, although they are often conflated. In you think energy independence is they key, you will love coal: if your main concern is with CO2 and other emissions, you will hate it.

    Nuclear deal with both these issues, but is unacceptable superstitious, who seem to represent a large segment.

  • Earl

    BW – I wouldn’t bother filling it out — if the first two questions had a reasonable answer, however biased its expression, then maybe. As it is, there is no way I’d send it in.

    David – I’m very much with you that we need to start building more nuclear generation plants at once, and keep at it for the next 20 years. But, at least in the short term, that isn’t going to address the need for liquid fuels, which are absolutely essential for our economy.

    So….drill, drill, drill! And start with the coal conversion.

  • Gringo

    Dishonest questions in surveys are nothing new. An estimated three years ago I received TWICE a set of survey questions from Howard Dean and the Democratic Natinal Committee, ostensibly because I was a “leader in the community.” Not surprisingly, the survey also asked for a contribution.

    There was only one question about Iraq: about withdrawal. There were choices such as 3 months, six months, a year. There was no choice that said something along the lines of “when the job is done” or “when we achieve victory.”

    Several months ago I finally returned the poll with my hand written comments on it about the dishonesty of the survey questions and why the only way I would ever vote again for a Democratic presidential candidate would be when I change my place of residence to a Chicago graveyard.

  • David Foster

    Also, everyone should be aware that *oil* is *not* used to any significant extent in US electricity generation–it’s coal and nat gas, followed by hydro and nuclear. Lots of media types still seem to think we import oil to run our power plants..

  • Bookworm

    Sean Hannity pointed out that Obama thinks it’s fine for Iran to develop a nuclear energy program (despite sitting on a big puddle of oil), but not fine for the US. Hmmmm….

  • suek


    Indeed. Do you suppose that is his secret method of attack? To encourage them to do themselves in – since nuclear is so dangerous????

    Yeah….me too.

  • Charles Martel

    I live with a 3-year-old boxer, Lily.

    She produces so much methane that my wife and I are tinkering with a device to capture it and shunt it to our gas heater.

    Perhaps we could could do away with coal by breeding a race of giant boxers? To feed them, I call upon the members of PETA to sacrifice themselves on behalf of their canine peers and our need for abundant renewable fuel.


    You’ve answered your own question.
    Impossible to fill out a pre-ordained poll results.
    Unless there is room for ‘other’ and you get to have input…what’s the point.

    Charles Martel:

    Careful with getting rid of coal. One of the by products is activated charcoal (like those odor eaters in shoes). There’s an idea for you…an activated charcoal filter to slap onto Lily’s butt.

  • Ymarsakar

    Most students of propaganda have already figured out that polls are not so much to gauge public opinion as it is to shape public opinion to one’s satisfaction.