Monday, January 03, 2005

Fun with Surveys (part 1)

Tolles has a piece up discussing a civil liberties survey he found. Summoning the ghost of Martin Niemoeller, he begins by asking us to imagine a report suggesting that nearly half of all Americans wanted to restrict the civil liberties of Jews. He then stuns his readership by pointing out that you can replace Muslims for Jews and the report is real.

But once you actually look at what is being reported there is much less there than meets the eye. Today’s exercise is a look at the survey and its findings. Click Read more.

Some findings:

1. Republicans are more apt to curtail civil liberties of Muslims than are Democrats.

2. Those calling themselves more religious are more apt to do so than less religious.

3. Those who paid more attention to television news were more likely to fear terrorist attacks and support limiting the rights of Muslim Americans.

4. 44 percent favored at least some restrictions on the civil liberties of Muslim Americans.

5. Forty-eight percent said liberties should not be restricted in any way.

6. 27 percent of respondents supported requiring all Muslim Americans to register where they lived with the federal government.

7. Twenty-two percent favored racial profiling to identify potential terrorist threats.

8. 29 percent thought undercover agents should infiltrate Muslim civic and volunteer organizations to keep tabs on their activities and fund-raising.

Tolles concludes: Republicans are evil (duh), TV news is trash, the actual level of respondents favoring restrictions is much higher than this survey suggests, and (I think) that this is reminiscent of Nazi Germany. Seriously, I am not sure on the last one but I think that is the point of tying it back to the “They came for the Jews” bit at the top of his piece. And then he becomes physically ill at the end of the post just thinking about the proto-fascist country AmeriKKKa has become.

But there are a couple of problems with both the survey and Tolles’ response. Next page.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6


Blogger Tolles said...

I was going to start out by saying I didn't have to time to post a 7 part reply, but then I realized I'd be lying. I do have the time. It's just that most of Max's post is so patently silly it doesn't justify a serious response.

So instead I'll diagram the right-wingers guide to micking up facts. First: Accept no data that hurts your party, country, or ideological viewpoint. Tell people that the survey response mean "nothing." Talk about general problems with weigtin in surverys, then pretend that this could account for a 40/24 Rep/Dem split on agreement with the statement "All Muslim Americans Should Be Required To Register Their Whereabouts." When that doesn't work, cite the science of "hang-ups," and pretend that this is a huge factor in survey outcomes. Insist that hang-ups is a perfectly reasonable factor in huge R/D split.

2) Insist that the requirement that particular religious minorites register their whereabouts with the government is in no way reminiscent of any sort of fascist society. Express outrage that anyone would suggest this. Then imply that such an idea is not a big deal by citing 9-11 and quoting Winston Churchill. Call the United States "our country" but don't point out that Muslims who would be affected by statement have equal lay to said term. When finished, wave the flag and sing a patriotic song.

3)Make up your own subjective criteria for what is and is not valid for purposes of surveying. State "the male/female thing [split] is not likely to be an issue", then offer cryptic comments on why data for race was not reported. Phrase in the form of rhetorical quesion for maximum confusion.

4) Determine for yourself what "religiosity" means. Toss out inconvenient definitions and data that do not match your own.

5) After denouncing "sloppiness [that] wouldn't fly for a second year grad student" equate infiltration of KKK with survey statement "Muslim civic and volunteer organizations should be infiltrated". State that survey deals with a simlilar infiltration. Don't actually quote survey statement, since equating said statement with KKK might make you look more ridiculous.

6) Finally, gather no outside anecdotal evidence. Do not go to to view trolls celebrating survey. [doubtful thread is still open] Ignore media reports of post-911 Justice Dept crackdown on Muslims. Ignore Salon report of vendors selling bumper stickers at CPAC stating "No Muslims, No Terrorism." All this might undermine hard work performed in items 1-5.

1:09 PM  

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