I’ve just pulled together some poll results on a variety of questions that involve things that go “bump in the night” as well as conspiracies.
One poll showed that 6 percent of the American public believes the moon landing was faked. Another poll shows that about 30 percent of the American public believes we are being or have been visited by aliens from outer space. Another 30 percent believe in ghosts and 7 percent believes that Bigfoot is real.
I have never been polled on any of these questions. But for the record, I believe our astronauts were on the moon. I don’t believe Bigfoot is real. I think there may be other life forms in the universe, but I have no opinion on them visiting us. I also don’t have a strong opinion about ghosts, though I am sure I’ve never seen or experienced one.
Now polls are generally referred to as scientific or non-scientific, meaning that careful attention is paid to how questions are asked, who is asked the questions and how the results are tallied. Then we have surveys that tend to be more or less “shoot-from-the-hip” procedures. Also, subject matter has a lot to do with the integrity of the process.
For instance, asking men if they prefer briefs or boxers in undershorts is a subject where their answers may be perceived as definite. On the other hand, asking a man if he believes in Bigfoot becomes rather amorphous at best. We know boxers and briefs are for real, so all we’re doing there is asking a preference.
On the other hand, no one has ever taken a picture of Bigfoot that was in focus, no one has found a carcass of one, no one has driven into town with one strapped across the hood of his truck and one has never been signed to an NBA contract. Therefore, I feel context is crucial to any answer having any integrity about it.
So what if you ask someone if they read a lot? Some will lie and say “yes” because they don’t want to appear illiterate.
And perhaps some of those people who said they believe Bigfoot is real just wanted to have fun with the pollsters. They may have even had a few beers and may remember arm wrestling one.
I’m not surprised that a few people say we haven’t been to the moon. Let’s face it, we have more than 6 percent who don’t know how to flush a toilet, fold a map or put up a shopping cart. Some may even debate whether it’s Bullwinkle’s real voice they’re hearing. And do they realize where Tang comes from?
When it comes to ghosts and aliens, I think there are some people who believe they have seen something in the super natural realm. I have never seen either.
I personally think Bigfoot is a novelty that’s just fun for some folks. I put it in the “snipe hunt” category.
As well, when one is asked a question without seeing that question in print, his perception of the subject may be off 180 degrees.
Let’s take the case of “ghosts.” Let’s just say the pollster calls up the local barber shop and asks the man getting a haircut his opinion on the “paranormal.” He may misunderstand that word completely, thinking that the pollster is talking about two guys who wear their pants above their butts, as in a pair of normal guys.
In the conspiracy category, I fully expect a poll to come out now asking people if they believe President Obama manufactured that birth certificate.
So how many people really know what an “exit poll” is? I’m guessing – in that regard – some would say they favor me stop writing right about here.
Walden is editor/publisher of the Moultrie Observer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.