View Single Post
Old 10th June 2011, 01:07 PM   #15
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 916
This poll is so ridiculous I don't know where to begin. So let's start at the beginning:

Q1. Were you living in New York City on September 11, 2001
To illustrate why this question is stupid, some background is necessary.

Almost every poll has questions at the beginning designed to eliminate people the pollsters don't want to hear from. For example, if Purina wants to measure public opinion about its dog food, their first question is likely to be "do you have a dog?" Only people who say "yes" will be asked what they think of Purina's fine brands. Companies aren't interested the opinions of people who, for demographic reasons, will never buy the product.

This poll was commissioned by NYCCAN. We don't know what they're trying to learn from this poll, but we can make two educated guesses: one, that they're trying to gauge the effectiveness of their recent TV campaign, and two, that they're trying to measure public opinion for for a future ballot initiative (apparently not having learned anything the first time).

Getting back to question #1:

Q1. Were you living in New York City on September 11, 2001
If you're doing a poll to measure public opinion about a ballot initiative, it's fair to eliminate respondents who are not eligible to vote on it. So "do you live in New York City" is a perfectly reasonable question. But why does it matter where they lived 10 years ago? Eligibility to vote in local elections depends on where they live now!

If they're using this question to screen respondents, they're eliminating people who can vote (they live in NYC now but didn't in 2001) and including people who can't (lived in NYC on 2001 and since relocated elsewhere). Plus they don't specify whether "New York City" specifically means the city limits. Half the population of Weehawken would say "yes" if you asked them if they live in New York City. This leads to more erroneous screening. So if that's the purpose of question 1, it serves that purpose very badly.

Alternatively, if they're trying to measure the effectiveness of their television advertising, a question like "do you live in New York City" eliminates millions of people who are within the NYC TV market but do not live in NYC proper. And if you don't want the opinions of people in the suburbs -- which you might not if you're trying to raise awareness about an NYC-only ballot initiative -- why are you paying to broadcast the ad to them? That's waste circulation, a huge amount of it.

But let's say this isn't a disqualifying question, and let's say they're just curious about how many people in their target audience were there on that fateful day. It's still a poorly worded question because many people work in New York City but don't live there. One of their respondents could have run for their life that day and correctly answer "no" to that question.

What does it matter if somebody was there that day or wasn't? Their opinions are just as valid either way. I could understand if they were trying to gauge the opinions of people who witnessed the attacks relative to those who didn't to see if there's a difference, but the poll doesn't seem to branch that way.

If anyone can tell me the purpose of this question, I'm willing to listen, but from any conceivable angle it looks pointless at best, and taints the sample at worst.

Q2. How much attention would you say you have paid to the ongoing coverage of the events of 9/11 in the news and by various governmental and non-governmental groups?

Q3. How satisfied are you that the government of the United States has provided a full and honest account of what happened that day? Do you think the government has told the whole story, most of the story, only some of the story or that in reality the government has tried to hide the truth about what happened that day?
These two questions have the same basic problem: they conflate legitimate 9-11 issues with 9-11 conspiracy tripe. If a respondent says that they "pay a great deal of attention" to 9-11 issues and "think the government has tried to hide the truth", NYCCAN thinks "oh goody, another potential convert." You can answer the questions that way and still think 9-11 Truth is total horsecrap. In fact, there's no combination of answers that would eliminate or require someone to hold "Truther" beliefs.

They're just lying to themselves with these questions. Lying to themselves that when people are asked about "9-11 issues" they think of Truther nonsense. Lying to themselves that "the government tried to hide the truth" means the precise thing they want it to mean, and not any of a hundred other ways that question can be answered "yes."

Q4. Are you aware that in addition to the Twin Towers, another skyscraper in the World Trade Center complex collapsed on 9/11?
And now the real dishonesty starts. As we all know, "another" skyscraper did not collapse in addition to the Twin Towers. "Several" skyscrapers collapsed in addition to the Twin Towers.

Not to mention that this question is confusing. If they say "do I know that one thing happened," and I know that many things happened, I might say no. It distorts the responses.

The answers were 67% yes, 32% no. Keep that in mind when reading the next question:

Q5. (If aware of collapse of another skyscraper) When did you first become aware of the collapse of this third skyscraper?
Ignoring the "third skyscraper" canard, because it absolutely permeates this poll, this is not a bad question. NYCCAN wants to educate people about this "third" skyscraper via TV commercials, and this would be a way of determining their success at that. But look at the results:

On 9/11 or shortly after 82%
During the period from 2002 until about 2006 9%
During the period from 2007 until about 2009 2%
Within the last couple of years 4%
Don't know/refused 4%
So 32% of New Yorkers still don't know about this "third skyscraper." And 61% of New Yorkers (91% of 67%) knew about it long before NYCCAN came along. Congratulations, you just spent $100,000 to tell New Yorkers something 93% of them already know, or still don't know. Nice job.

Q6. (If aware of collapse of another skyscraper) From the following list of ways that people may have come to find out about the collapse of the third skyscraper, which was the FIRST way that you became aware of its collapse?

By seeing it on the news 44%
By hearing about it on the radio 6%
By reading about it in the newspaper 5%
By hearing about it from another person 18%
By seeing a TV documentary about it 5%
By coming across it on the internet 5%
By witnessing it - Present at the time 11%
Other 1%
Don't know/Refused 4%
What's missing from that list of possible ways can learn about The Third Skyscraper? Oh, right, TELEVISION COMMERCIAL. You know, that thing you just paid $100,000 to broadcast, in hopes of getting more New Yorkers to be aware of TTS? Isn't NYCCAN the slightest bit curious how many people know about TTS because of that? The question says "from the following ways", which means the polltaker read them the list of choices. And "TV commercial" wasn't one of them. That is just pathologically stupid.

Q7. (If aware of collapse of another skyscraper) Although it may be difficult, can you name this third skyscraper? (LIST NOT READ)
This is what's called "unaided recall." They want to know how many people will think of something without being given a list to choose from. When the nice person with the midwestern accent calls your house one afternoon and asks "what laundry detergents have you bought in the last six months," this is what they're trying to find out.

Which is a little bit backhanded in this case. They've already misrepresented the collateral damage to many buildings as "the third skyscraper"; now they're quizzing you to see if you'll name the correct third skyscraper.

Which most people did not:

Can't think of the name/Don't know 69%
some variation of "WTC7" 21%
Other 9%
It's revealing that when New Yorkers are asked "what's the third skyscraper that fell on 9/11", people say WTC7 if they can think of one at all.

This is a very positive result for Truthyland. They have successfully convinced a fair number of New Yorkers that WTC7 is somehow more memorable than the other buildings that were destroyed by collateral damage. If I was cynical enough to want to help them, I'd say this should be their marketing angle: brand WTC7 as "THE third skyscraper."

As for "though it may be difficult"... I previously interpreted this to mean "it may be difficult to relive the memories of that frightening day." But it could also mean "it may be difficult to remember the name of the building." Either way, pollsters should not be prodding responders like this. They should just ask the question. "Though it may be difficult to remember" sounds a lot like "try really really hard to think of the building we want you to name."

Q8. (If aware of collapse of another skyscraper) Have you seen video footage of the collapse of this third skyscraper, known as World Trade Center Building 7?
This is just complete dishonesty. In the last question they asked you what the third skyscraper was. Now they're TELLING you what it was.

And this is another question that fails to ascertain anything about the effectiveness of the TV commercial. It just asks people if they've seen footage of WTC7. A followup question "where did you see that footage?" would be tremendously useful to an ad campaign. But as we can see, NYCCAN has more important things to do:

Q9. (If aware of collapse of another skyscraper) Of the following, what in your opinion was the primary cause of the collapse of Building 7 at the World Trade Center on 9/11?
This poll is going where it wants to go with no regard for what the responder has said. It's gone from asking you if you know about a "third skyscraper", to asking you what it was, to telling you what it was, to asking you what caused its structural collapse.

This is a completely silly question. It asks people an engineering question about something they've already said they have no awareness of.

"Question 1, are you aware of Pelizaeus Merzbacher disease? No. Okay, question 2: How should we cure Pelizaeus Merzbacher disease?"

Q10. In 2008, the federal government issued a report that found that fires caused this skyscraper, World Trade Center Building 7, to collapse. Critics, including a group of more than 1,400 architects and engineers, have argued against the findings of the report stating that prior to 9/11, no steel-framed skyscraper had ever collapsed as a result of fire. These critics suggest that only the use of explosives can account for Building 7's collapse. Are you more inclined to believe the findings of the federal government that fire caused Building 7's collapse or the critics that believe explosives were responsible?

Q11. Many have signed a petition calling for a NEW investigation into Building 7's collapse. Others consider the case closed and do not think a new investigation is warranted. Would you be in favor of or opposed to a local government agency like the New York City Council or Manhattan District Attorney opening a new investigation into the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7?

Q12. Now thinking about the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, do you believe they collapsed as a result of the two planes crashing into them and from the fires that resulted, or do you think that in addition to the planes crashing into the twin towers there were also explosives or some other demolition devices that were detonated and contributed to the destruction of the towers?
Questions 10-12 are so thoroughly dishonest that they'd make a good exercise in spotting fallacies. Loaded questions, false dilemmas, appeals to authority (1400 Architects and Engineers!), poisoning the well (do you believe the federal government?) and others.


Q13. As you think about all the events of 9/11 at this point which of the following two positions is closest to yours:

I'm satisfied that we understand well enough what happened. It is time to move on.

I'm not satisfied that we know the whole truth about that day. It is time we get to the bottom of what happened.
See my response to questions 2-3 above.
Triterope is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top