There is no need for propaganda to be rich in intellectual content.
--Paul Joseph Goebbels
Yesterday evening I received a call on my published telephone number from a firm that was conducting a poll about political views and such. Having not received a call like this for some time, and being at leisure at the moment, I uncharacteristically decided to play along.
Within five minutes, it became UNBELIEVABLY apparent that the firm (Sun Surveys) either:
a) Should immediately find a new person to write their survey questions, preferably without bias and loaded words....
b) Was being paid to 'plant' perspectives under the guise of conducting a political interview.
I had to repeat the questions quite a few times to make sure I wasn't misinterpreting how they were phrased. Had I been quicker, I would have asked to record the call for accuracy, however the general gist of the technique they were using is as follows:
1) Ask if you are familiar with a particular political party/proposed legislation/public political issue (Iraq)
2) You say very aware/somewhat aware/not very aware/not aware at all
3) Regardless of your answer, they read a prepared paragraph that has subtle but definite bias in re-framing an issue. (e.g. President Bush has stated that the Democrats in Congress are playing games with our troops safety by tying war funding and the safety of our troops to an arbitrary pullout date)
4) They proceed to ask you a series of loaded questions that lead you to a pre-desired conclusion ("...or would you select answer 'C', 'The Democrats should stop playing politics with our troops lives and come to a compromise with the president with a solution that will both be reasonable yet insure our troops safety and security.' Now, which would you say is your answer sir?").
It took about 20 minutes, during which I was frantically trying to get more data on the firm to determine who had hired them and what their agenda was. I am embarrassed to say that, by the end, I couldn't tell which political party had hired them as it seemed that the bias shifted left and right regularly. Perhaps the script/system changed based on my previous responses like an expert system, which would have been interesting given my rather complex and often contradictory political views.
The gentleman conducting the interview did play along however: When he asked me to score on a 1-100 scale, how good of a job that I thought each major political party was doing, he repeated the question after I gave both parties <10 thinking that I hadn't understood. When I confirmed my prior scores, he actually chuckled very quietly on the other end of the line.