Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spinning SpongeBob

My SpongeBob poll can be used as an object lesson on how the media can make any survey appear to support literally any position.

First, the facts. As of this writing, the poll results are:

Bring him back!
  55 (39%)
Nah, we don't need him.
  41 (29%)
Don't waste time. Work on a new design already!
  27 (19%)
  18 (12%)

The spin for pro-SpongeBob people:
By a commanding 10% margin, EoZ readers support the return of SpongeBob Squarepants to the Elder logo compared to those who oppose his return.
The spin for the anti-SpongeBob people:
In a recent survey carried out on the Elder of Ziyon blog, fully 61% of the respondents who voted refused to support bringing SpongeBob Squarepants back into the Elder logo. 
The spin for the new design people:
A great number of EoZ readers support a new design of the site. While neither the pro-SpongeBob nor anti-SpongeBob crowds were able to gain close to a  majority of the votes cast, the people who want a complete overhaul garnered some 60% of the non-partisan votes entered in the survey, and literally all of the non-partisan activists voted to redesign the site.
The spin for the don't know/don't care crowd:
In a lackadaisical survey carried out at the EoZ blog, no one managed to get very excited over the question of whether SpongeBob should return. None of the survey choices given managed to gather close to a majority of the votes, and many people were not familiar with the cartoon character in the first place. Most of EoZ's total daily readers didn't even bother to answer the question, making the entire dreary exercise moot.
All of these treatments are 100% true.

This is why, when you see survey results reported as news, you should try to get hold of the actual numbers.

(Right now I am leaning on bringing SpongeBob back, not only because of the votes but also because the pro-SBSP crowd were much more passionate in the comments.)