Last week I saw an article out of the Charlotte Observer, with a headline of: “US poll: More people than ever see Bible as ‘fables.’” This article, written by Moira Ritter, started off by saying, and I quote; “Only 20% of people in the U.S. now say they view the Bible as the literal word of God – a record low – while a record-high 29% of Americans agree the Bible is only a collection of “fables,” legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.”
Well, the newspaper headline worked, because it attracted me to it - I wanted to read this story. I did read it and will reveal the key information latter. My point here is you have to use EXTREME CAUTION when reading polls, surveys, or studies. I know quite a bit about polls, studies, and surveys, and quite frankly anyone can create a poll that says anything they would like it to say. For example, if I want a poll to say that Coca-Cola is the best soft drink, I only have to take a poll of predominantly Coca-Cola fans to get the result I want.
The fact of the matter is, we are bombarded by survey results and polls every day, trying to influence us one way or another, and they do this because it works. These polls, studies, and surveys come out with startling revelations, and we all read them and say…WOW, I didn’t know this …or WOW, I need to do something about this. But the thought is now in our mind and we will remember it. I’ll give you an example. Is coffee good for you or not? If you look for survey’s, polls, or studies, you will find any answer you want. Some say yes and others say no. Because these polls don’t stay neutral, they word the questions to push you towards the answer they want, and most importantly, they don’t include a significant amount of independent people, these results are often biased, whether done intentionally or not.
What about wine is it good for you…only red not white? Dark chocolate is better for you than other chocolates? Caffeine, good or bad… natural sugar, good or bad …the list goes on. There are surveys for all of these things that will tell you opposite results from other surveys, of exactly the same thing.
When I see a poll, survey, or study, the first thing I do is look for the population or number of people asked. Then I look for the demographics of where the people asked are located. By doing so I am trying to determine was there any intentional, or even unintentional bias, to the result. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in results on questions about farming if the survey was conducted in metropolitan New York or Los Angeles. Would you ask senior citizens or only nursing home residents what the biggest challenge facing graduating high school seniors was? Obviously not, because it’s been several decades since these people have been thru that experience. Yet pollsters do it all the time, usually because they have been hired by a company to promote an image, angle, philosophy, or agenda.
A major retailer recently surveyed their customers asking how they could improve. Seventy percent of the respondents said purchase more American made products. The next two years they advertised that they bought more American products that their competitors. Over the next five years, their domestic purchases declined and their international purchases rose by 11%.
Years ago, Sears did a survey of only their own credit card holders and asked how they could improve. The card holders overwhelmingly responded that they needed to start carrying other brands than just the Sears or Craftsman brands, and reduce their prices. Sears agreed and began the purchasing process. Then they closed all their stores one weekend to say they had heard what their customers had said and they were going to provide all national brand names and reduce their prices. The result was national brand names were on the shelf all right…but…they actually raised their prices.
Please be very cautious or weary of any survey result. Check it out, check the number surveyed, and where it was conducted. Then make your own…now informed…assessment. Because surveys today, are much like commercials or ads…they seldom deliver exactly what you expect, want, or what they promise.
Back to the Charlotte Observer article. As you read it, you come to the fourth paragraph, just where the article jumps from column one to column two, and it says this: “The new poll surveys members of the United States adult population, including individuals who identify with religions other than Christianity, and individuals who do not have any specific religious identity at all.”
They’ve surveyed adults – what ages and how many, they do not say???
They surveyed non-Christians and people saying they follow no religion.
OK, so they got exactly the response I would expect – I think we all would expect. What would their results be if they surveyed the entire country, INCLUDING CHRISTIANS? I don’t think the headline would be accurate if they did!
Please friends – BEWARE when you read or hear any survey, study, or poll, because odds are it is trying to convince you of something that is only partially true, or something that is totally false!!!