Survey Says

checklist, check, list
TeroVesalainen (CC0), Pixabay

I get target fixated. If I need to find the answer to a question, I hunt it down ruthlessly. I simply don’t stop till I know what the whole answer is. I think this is what started my book collection. I enjoy co-op radio (, but I must confess that it isn’t the radio station I listen to via my alarm clock. I have a crappy radio alarm, and haven’t found one at the thrift store yet that can get co-op like my stereo in the living room, (or via the Internet). So when I set up the alarm clock I choose the channel closest to co-op I could get, hoping to fine tune it later. Well, it turns out this channel (which I won’t name, partly due to not wanting to advertise them) has an “Impossible Question” every morning. The object is, they ask a question, and callers try to phone in the correct answer to get a prize.

The result for me is that I can not fall back to sleep because I need to know the answer. But awhile ago I noticed the question being asked were useless as far as knowledge goes. They were all survey results which didn’t really help further improve mankind’s place in the world. I mean, who cares whether or not guys like red or pink lipstick anyway?

Being a researcher myself, I’ve done many surveys which have at their core a purpose. Public opinion polls might tell us which Liberal, or Conservative moron might win the next election, but education surveys will tell us why people are not making smart choices with the environment. The problem with surveys is the way some research companies load the questions.

When I have a conversation with someone it has at it’s core context. You know what I am talking about when I ask you a question because we’ve been sitting in the coffee shop for the last hour getting buzzed off of java beans. Paul Lazarsfeld (1935), who wrote one of the earliest papers on research interviewing would call this “the flow of ordinary discourse”. Without such a discourse, the context is tilted, sometimes towards where the researchers want it to go. If I walk up to you on the street and suddenly ask you if you think that Chlorofluorocarbons are the leading cause of Global Warming, you may answer with a yes, or a no. You might ask what the heck is a Chlorofluorowhatchamacallit. (emissions from the use of fossil fuels). Note however, I never asked you if you believed that Global Warming was a real problem. If I did, maybe I could also find out why you drive that SUV.

Multiple choice is the same thing…

Which do you think is the leading cause of Lung Cancer?

1: Smoking
2: Smog
3: GMO’s
4: Pesticides
5: Radiation from Microwaves, Cell phones, & Power Lines

Although, smoking really is the leading cause of lung cancer, did you know that radon is the second?

Radon is considered to be the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. today. Radon gas can come up through the soil under a home or building and enter through gaps and cracks in the foundation or insulation, as well as through pipes, drains, walls or other openings. Radon causes between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States — 12 percent of all lung cancer deaths are linked to radon.” – Facts About Lung Cancer November 20, 2006 American Lung Assoc.

You have to be careful in asking question when doing research, it effects the outcome. That is why the scientific community encourages peer review. Even when the only research involved is done complete in a lab, it still requires the peer review, because to put it plainly, sometimes we ask ourselves the wrong questions.

Just something to think about the next time that phone rings with a survey on the other end, you may want to ask a few questions yourself. Who are they taking the survey for? Who will get the results? And most important, who is paying for it?


Thank You Adriane Carr

concept, man, papers
Pexels (CC0), Pixabay

I get to have some fun. There are three types of gifts that really make me jump up and take notice. First, there is the whole wolf thing, I have a wolf coffee cup, t-shirts with wolves on them, and about a million wolves done in cross-stitch by my wife. I collect anything to do with them, it is what I get for xmas, birthdays, etc, and am very happy with this. The second thing that I like getting are non-fiction books, anything non-fiction, history, politics, and many many how-to’s fill my attic walls where my desk sits as I write this, I guess it comes with the territory of writing reports, and doing research, always nice to have that book you need right here at hand, rather then running downtown to the library.

Raw research, and reports are by far the best gift I get.

I went downtown yesterday to attend a FreeGeek meeting, and ended up having to leave a tad bit early to help out some friends. I knew the Green Party was moving almost next doorfrom Spartacus Books, where we were having the FreeGeek meeting, but didn’t realize there was going to be two trips, one yesterday, one today. So, after hearing this from Scott Nelson of Indymedia fame, we took off and helped out, even borrowed a dolly from Spartacus.

Turns out it was Adriane Carr‘s office we were helping to move.

So for the last couple of days, I’ve been busy with helping out, I even dragged one of my kids to help put desks together, and during all this the conversation came up of not wanting to toss out some research papers, two boxes of them, so … they are now sitting beside my desk, ready to be compiled as reports on the database of Northern Oracle. YIPPIE!

Thank you so much Adriane! They will be available as I get through them on the Open Databse (


A question from my Mom

Yesterday Wolfe’s Mom asked him:

road sign, attention, right of way
geralt (CC0), Pixabay

When there are so many problems in the world, how do you choose the ones that you’re active in?

Good question.

There are many things I consider before I get involved, or to what degree I get involved in a matter.

First, I guess is what amount of effort can I afford to give? Sometimes, when people get involved in helping a cause they cause more damage by quiting before they finish what they set out to do. you have to know your limits, it’s a risky thing to take up a cause, and commit yourself in any degree. Even writing a letter, if that is all you intend to do, can have a cause and effect on your personal life, and those around you. I know, I have over 154
summary convictions against me for everything ranging from tresspassing to keeping the peace orders. All of them are a result of protests of some kind.

Second, who else is involved in the cause? I will never help out Ronald McDonald house. To me it is one of the highest forms of being a hypocrite, to help people come back to health by accepting help from a corporation which is causing health problems. Guilty by association is very real, and defeats any progress.

Third, can those directly effected by the problem speak for themselves and are they doing so? It is one thing to stand up for human rights and those that lack them in some country. It is another, to interfer with the natural process of change, and the growth of democracy in a place that is not ready, or doesn’t want it. If a group of people are not supporting you changing their lives “for the better” then it is likely that you do not understand the
culture or contents of what is really going on. Anything you do is forced, and un-welcomed. This is most likely the case in situations where one group of people try to “export democracy” to somewhere like iraq. Democracy has to grow from within or it’s inception is corrupted.

Some people get involved because they have no choice. Father-Rights groups are full of fathers who have lost their rights as fathers for example. Other groups are formed as a result of compassion for those who cannot speak for themselves, every animal rights group is a result of this process.

I tend to lean toward groups that are based on an ideal of some kind. It isn’t about saving the whale for me, but saving the ocean and planet as a whole. If I join a save the whale based organization, we might in fact save the whale, but save the entire planet, and the whale is saved as well.