An unscientific look at polls

In News Reports, Politics on January 14, 2013 at 1:45 am

It was interesting that ST is being investigated by the police for contravening elections laws for publishing an election poll. It was more interesting to read what ST did NOT say. If you had read Today, it appears that ST was told off by the police for doing the same thing in 2011, when it polled Aljunied GRC residents. Strange that it didn’t take the warning to heart. Also, the ST report forgot to publish the penalties: for contravening the Parliamentary Elections Act, you are fined up to a max of $1,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or both.

Now, given ST’s reply, it looks like it’s about to argue that it wasn’t a full-scale survey or a scientific poll. Now what does that mean really? That no one should take ST’s poll too seriously? I can bet that all the headline writers in Singapore are also wondering about the comment that ST made that the headline “overstated the significance’’ of the poll. The headline, by the way, was “ST poll: More rooting for PAP’’. I’m not sure how such a straightforward headline can be misinterpreted – unless it wasn’t MORE people rooting for PAP. Or the word poll should be substituted with some phrase like: Views from the ground. And take out the numbers in the story…

There was another survey I found most interesting: On the profile of those belonging to Christian groups and the views they hold. To put it simply: Those in megachurches are younger, usually first-generation Christians, against abortion and homosexuality and believe greater wealth is an indication of spiritual health (my words). So morally conservative and highly capitalist, compared to those in established churches.

Now… it is nice to have surveys that pin down some numbers but I’d rather that we tried to make some sense of what those numbers mean or imply.

One academic says that with the current widening income gap, the megachurch Christians will find aspirations “blocked in the secular realm’’ but that the extra spiritual push will help them overcome obstacles to achieving upward mobility.
Really? How so? So Christians would be more inclined to blame God than the G? Or that they will endure hardships because the goal is at hand, however far away?

Another said that given their views on abortion and homosexuality, the megachurches have a strong component of values teaching – as strong if not stronger than the established churches. I wonder what the mainstream churches say to this? I also wonder how “tolerance’’ features in their value system. Or their views on non-Christians….Time I guess for me to get the whole report.

One question: Why were the Catholics not part of the survey? Their views on homosexuality and especially abortion are even tougher methinks.

  1. I’ve always wondered why ST does such polls — given how unscientific they are. Having conducted these polls myself (as a poor intern), I know for such that there’s no rigor to the process, and the results can fit whatever bias the reporter has.

  2. Those in megachurches are both younger and more materialistic. Could it be the observed materialism had more to do with youth than the church?

  3. Of all the religions in the world (Buddhist, Muslim, Hindus, Catholics,etc) Christianity gets the young uncontaminated minds first, or say, the young people chooses Christianity over the rest of the religions because of the following features about the Christianity:

    * Majestic and Grand Architecture of churches throughout the world *Psychology is being used in the preaching excessively by the preachers *Music is being blended and thus making it attractive to the youngsters *One dresses in one’s best attire to attend churches *Ideal location for the young courtship

    Not all the above features (may be some) are present in other religions. Challenge me!

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