Monday, January 07, 2008

Seems like anyone who'd answer "yes" would be dead

"Is execution by lethal injection so likely to cause pain that it is unconstitutional?" That's the poll question today on It doesn't really have much to do with theism or atheism, but I think it says a lot about irrationalism in the media. There are only two answers allowed for you to choose, "yes" or "no." Seems to me that, unless you're an actual executioner and you've witnessed the process taking place, or have undergone the process yourself (in which case you'd hardly be in a position to respond to the poll), then how could you possibly know? You might as well ask, "Which hurts more: being shot with a .45 caliber hollow point or a 9mm caseless?"

I've seen similar polls all over websites, especially ones like CNN where they'd at least like to think there's some respectability involved. Readers are asked to give an authoritative answer to a question to which they couldn't possibly have any expertise either way. I took a phone poll once that was all about gasoline. I was asked which gas station I preferred to go to (I kept saying "whomever's cheapest," which didn't go down well considering they wanted a company name), and who had the better gasoline. How, I asked, was I supposed to know whose gasoline was actually "better," unless I were a chemical or petroleum engineer and could analyze samples in a lab? Hell, I put gas in my car, and if my car goes, then I guess it's pretty good gas in my book. I have no expertise in this field. Why was I being asked to give some for a stupid poll?

This kind of thing, I think, is all part of the same climate of faux-intellectualism that allows creationists to flourish. People with no expertise in biology or any other science are preening around like they know all there is to know about the subject, and that the science (they haven't studied) is wrong. And this attitude — perfect pig-ignorance validating and congratulating itself with arrogance — is openly encouraged. It's all just one more sad little symptom of our culture's war on reason.

1 comment:

  1. Good post. Polls like these drive me nuts. They're completely meaningless.


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