Sunday, 29 March 2009

Bogus WWF push polling survey to promote Earth Hour

Look, I don't care whether you are into this Earth Hour stuff or not. If you choose to turn your lights out, that is your choice. We turn our lights out all the time - 365 days of the year. If a room is not in use, the lights go out. If we are not at home, we don't run the air conditioner or leave the lights on. We don't consume electricity in Gore-ean quantities.

We turn things off when they are not in use because it saves us money. If some happen to believe that doing such a thing saves the planet, well, ok. But our primary purpose for doing so is economic, not environmental. Even though we are comparatively well off and quite comfortable, both J and me were brought up by frugal parents who would walk around the house yelling "Who left this light on?" as they returned the house to primordial darkness. J is morphing into both our mothers on this front.

That said, just after Earth Hour finished last night, an email popped into my inbox asking me to do an online survey. I only took a small number of screenshots from the survey to show how amazingly ridiculous and one sided the questions were, and here they are.

The survey started innocuously enough, asking if I had heard of an event happening last night.

Why, yes I had, but possibly not the event they had in mind.

Q - which non-profit organisation do you think is behind Earth Hour?

A - flat earth, eco marxist nutcase party.

Unfortunately, I forgot to include "no growth" in that answer.

Q - which media organisation is behind Earth Hour?

A - Socialist Weekly.

As far as I am concerned, that is another name for the SMH.

OK, now that we have the niceties out of the way, the leading questions really start:

Now, thinking about your feelings toward the environment:

Which of the following two statements is most likely to motivate you to act in an environmentally responsible way:

- being given a list of small steps I can take to fight global warming
- understanding the full implications of climate change on the world's future

I sat there reloading the page a few times, waiting for some more alternative answers to come up. Answers that were not push-polling. Just look at both the question and the two answers - the first question talks about "fight(ing) global warming", and the second about "the full implications of climate change on the world's future". Boy, where is the answer that says, "I don't believe in any of this crap?" You have no option but to believe.

A whole series of questions were then asked on corporate responsibility, with the idea of pushing the barrow that companies must become more environmentally responsive. I am sure that the WWF will put out a press release shortly saying that "most Australians believe that our banks/insurance companies etc need to care more about the environment". If they do, just remember that they got to that point by using a twisted survey that automatically skewed the results towards what they wanted to hear.

Questions like this made me want to pick up the phone and yell at someone:

Which of the following people, or groups of people, do you personally think should be responsible for ensuring the company they work for takes appropriate action regarding environmental sustainability and climate change?

- the CEO/Board of Directors
- Senior executives/leadership team
- all executives/managers
- All employees (including for instance workers on a shop floor)
- unsure/don't know

Where is the answer that says "none"? Where is the answer that says, I don't believe companies should be wasting their time thinking about climate change, because it is a crock of crap? There is no thought even given to the idea that some people might dissent. Dissenters have been completely designed out of this survey, lest there be enough of them to bugger up the results.

I was pretty steamed up by the time I finished this survey. I spent a good 15 minutes answering questions that were leading in the extreme. I don't care if the WWF comes out with a report that says, "99% of people think the sky is blue" - don't believe a bloody word of it. It's crap. Their questions, their answers and their methodology is crap. It should be mandatory to publish the survey questions and answers when putting out a press release that quotes statistics from a survey.

There aren't enough lamp posts to hang these pricks from.

Let me tell you why I got so mad at the end.

This survey was done on behalf of a group that promotes itself as being "responsible", and it asked lots of question about "corporate responsibility" with the clear aim of jamming more do-gooder regulation down the throats of business. The questions and answers were deliberately put together in a way that I find immensely irresponsible and intellectually dishonest. This survey is designed to produce results that will be used to achieve political aims, and if it is skewed from the start, then it will deliver bad political outcomes. We will all suffer as a result.

Surveys are supposed to be designed "scientifically" and be balanced and fair. This survey is anything but, yet it purports to be just those things. It is a sham. The "junk science" aspects to its design portray the WWF in a very poor light. It is a one-eyed, unbalanced, unfair crock of crap. It is the equivalent of asking someone, "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

The WWF deserves to be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. If it can't make its case honestly, it should not try to make its case at all.


Anonymous said...

C'mon, BOAB, anyone who has worked in media knows how these surveys are put together.

They infuriate me too, but I usually try to give all the wrong answers. Just to keep some balance.

kae said...

But Anonymous,

There are no wrong answers!

Minicapt said...

Some people are never happy; I'll bet he hates the pipes also!

Besides "- understanding the full implications of climate change on the world's future" was the correct answer.