When did you stop beating your wife? This is one of the classic examples of a loaded question. This survey is a mix of both leading questions and loaded questions and probably some that are both. I’ve seen Democratic Party surveys and have never reacted this way to one. Perhaps this is because I’m a liberal.
However, I tend to be pretty fair about such things and would likely notice if they had questions that were this deliberately targeted toward proving that the constituency wants what the party is already feeding them rather than trying to find out what the constituency really wants. Of course, the next Democratic Party survey I get will likely prove me wrong since I’ll be looking at it more closely after seeing this shocker.
Note that I checked for copyright notices as well as admonitions regarding the reproduction of this document and found none.
Anyway, please read the survey for yourself. I hope you’ll be as amused by it as I am. If you were planning to vote republican in the next election, remember that these questions indicate what the republican party is already planning to do. So, if you think we shouldn’t be in Iraq, don’t vote republican. If you believe in nationalized health care, don’t vote republican. If you believe that stem cells have a lot to offer us*, don’t vote republican.
After the survey, I’ll post a few alternatively worded versions of some of the most egregiously worded questions. I’ll try to post a relatively neutral wording and an equally loaded and leading wording that would encourage the opposite answer to what the republicans want.
OK, so lets think about some more neutral wordings of some of the worst of these questions. It is never possible to be completely neutral. However, one should make one’s best effort to do so if one is writing a survey and really wants to know how the respondents feel. This survey is clearly intended to get a large base of republicans to answer in ways that back up what the republican party is already planning to do, rather than to make a determination about the future direction of the party.
First, lets just start with question 2, which is really a long series of how important one feels these issues are. Imagine yourself writing these. Wouldn’t you not only want to know the importance but also know which way a person felt about them? Maybe reauthorizing Bush’s tax cuts is important to the respondent, but do they want them reauthorized or not? Perhaps the respondent is not a billionaire who benefited from the cut. (Oops, now I’m being leading here. See how easy that is?) Perhaps energy policy is very important. But, does the respondent want to burn coal or fund renewable energy? Some might want nuclear power. Regardless, question 2 will not provide the real information. And, the tiny box in part 9 isn’t going to be enough space for any real detailed answers.
4. [note: liberal Democrats has become somewhat of a red flag phrase, especially as used by the republicans. So, this is leading wording, despite being less egregious than some of the later questions.]
Neutral wording: Do you believe we should repeal President Bush’s tax cuts?
Leading wording: Do you believe we should repeal and reverse the tax cuts that President Bush has given to the very wealthy and to corporations that are earning record profits like ExxonMobil?
10. (neutral) Do you support a nationalized health care plan?
10. (loaded & leading) America has the shortest life expectancy and highest infant mortality of any developed democratic nation in the world. Would you support measures to eliminate the profit disincentive for providing health care as implemented by privatized medical care and replace our system with one that would provide quality care to all Americans in the same way that every other democratic developed nation of the world does?
14. (neutral) Do you support giving U.S. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies additional rights to monitor communications within our country?
14. (loaded & leading) Do you support altering the constitution to allow law enforcement and intelligence agencies to monitor communications of U.S. citizens without the need for pesky court orders and warrants?
15. [note: This is so horrifically loaded that I’ll probably have trouble being even close to neutral on this. I will try. Just be aware that in this question in particular, the person who wrote the question has already convicted the unnamed terrorists without even identifying them. They are already identified not as suspects but as terrorists.]
15. (neutral-ish) Do you believe that the presumption of innocence applies only to U.S. citizens?
15. (loaded & leading) Do you believe it is acceptable for the United States to detain suspected terrorists without legal representation and to interrogate them by means that violate the Geneva Convention and the United Nations Convention Against Torture as well as existing United States Law?
[Note: see Waterboarding on wikipedia’s site for the ways that this violates international and U.S. law.
18. (neutral) Do you believe that the president should be subject to the checks and balances of other branches of government?
20. (neutral) Do you believe that the U.S. should pull its troops out of Iraq as soon as possible?
22. (neutral) Do you believe the U.S. should sign on to the Kyoto treaty?
22. (loaded & leading) Do you believe that the United States should remain alone among 162 nations in not signing on to the Kyoto Treaty for limiting the emissions of greenhouse gases that threaten to put a billion people out of their homes by 2050?
27. (neutral) Do you support the idea of faith based initiatives to provide services rather than having government agencies do so directly?
27. (loaded & leading) Do you support the idea of having the Federal Government give money to religious organizations that may discriminate on the basis of religion for the purpose of providing services even though this may be a complete and utter violation of the separation of church and state?
[Note on this last one, the government has always allowed this to be done provided that the religious institution agrees not to discriminate. The faith based initiatives merely remove the requirement that they be fair.]
28. (neutral) Do you support a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman?
28. (leading) Do you support a constitutional amendment denying the rights of the LBGT community to enjoy the same benefits of marriage that the rest of us enjoy?
30. (neutral) Do you support our current ban on the use of embryonic stem cells for research?
30. (loaded & leading) Do you support our continued ban on the use of embryonic stem cells despite the existence of unwanted embryos from a variety of sources, especially from the leftover fertilized eggs of in vitro fertilizations which are currently thrown in the garbage?*
Obviously, I’ve left out many good questions that could be further picked apart for their bias or equally rewritten to be biased in the opposite direction. So, see if you can guess whether I sent in my $11 for processing my responses to the questions. In fact, see if you can guess whether I returned the form.
Lastly, did anyone see anything about this having been printed on recycled paper with soy ink? I didn’t think so.
* FYI: Every in vitro fertilization results in extra fertilized eggs that are thrown in the garbage when they are not needed. The republican party seems to have no problem with in vitro fertilization. However, they are against using the blastocyst instead of throwing it in the garbage. Somehow using it is a destruction of a soul, but throwing it away is not. And, this is all over something with fewer cells in total than a mosquito’s brain. And, the technology has the promise to save lives and cure severe chronic illnesses. (OK, sorry for the off-topic rant. This one just makes me sick.)
8/16/2009 — Added tags in hopes that those who search for Basil’s blog IMAO may come here to know exactly what type of person they are dealing with. When they see that all or nearly all people agree with Basil, perhaps they will know why. It’s called censorship. See my reply below his pingback written today.
I will say this for Basil though, at least he’s honest about being unfair and unbalanced.