Thursday, February 16, 2006


Lies, Damn Lies, and Discovery Public Opinion Polls

In the run up to the Ohio Board of Education vote to drop references to intelligent design inspired "critical analysis" of evolution from the standards, the Discovery Institute gave wide publicity to a public opinion survey conducted by Zogby International purporting to show that by "more than a 3-to-1 margin, Ohio residents strongly support public school teachers presenting both the evidence for evolution, as well as the evidence challenging the theory." The survey was commissioned by Discovery.

Yesterday, Red State Rabble wrote that there are good reasons be skeptical about the survey results being touted by Discovery. We offered some of our own thoughts on why the results should be read with a hefty helping of skepticism.

Today, Mathew Nisbet who publishes the Framing Science blog and Chris Mooney over at The Intersection have both posted a pieces on the Discovery poll.

Nisbet's post is titled "Discovery's Pseudo-polling: Public Accountability Emphasized on Both Sides of the Ohio School Board Decision." RSR likes Nisbet's blog, we've been visiting frequently, and recommend it to others. In his post, Nisbet asks:
... [W]hy should anyone trust a poll released by the Discovery Institute, now notorious for pushing religiously inspired pseudoscience on the American public? OR a poll conducted by John Zogby, a pollster criticized heavily in the past for conducting polls that seem to always favor the policy positions of his clients...
Why indeed?

Nisbet goes on to detail problems with the methodology, the sample, and the question asked in the survey. It's well worth reading.

Mooney, who also links to Nisbet's post, adds, "[s]uffice it to say that by touting these surveys, Discovery is undermining the science of polling in pretty much the same way that it is undermining the science of evolution.


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