Monday, January 03, 2005

Fun with Surveys (Part 5)

While I agree with Tolles that TV news is largely a scare-mongering wasteland, the measures they use here are also sloppy and misleading. In one question they compare results of high TV news watchers to low TV news watchers while in another they lump medium and low together. Where did those mediums go on the first question? I bet putting them with the lows attenuated the difference between TV news watchers and non-watchers so they took them out. Click read more.

The measures of civil liberties are similarly flawed. Some of them seem to deal with serious civil liberties issues like indefinite detention of suspected terrorists or government monitoring of e-mails. Some, however, are not civil liberties questions at all.

For example: government officials sometimes need to lie to the press about military operations. Or this one: In a time of crisis or war, the media should NOT cover anti-war protests. Or: In a time of crisis or war, the media should NOT report comments of individuals who criticize the government. Note that the last two questions do not posit that the government should outlaw either activity, just that the media should self censor for the good of the war effort.

For Tolles sake, I will point out that I would not agree with either of those statements, but the point is that believing that self censorship of some information is the right thing to do for a war effort is not the same thing as believing in government taking away civil liberties.

As a side note, they asked two questions testing knowledge about Islam. Here, they only report overall percentages correct; no breakdowns by religiousity, political party etc. Wonder why not? Next page.

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