I was having this interesting discussion at my day job recently. A few colleagues and I were talking about public perception.
The issue at hand was the connotation people associate with the word "foundation."
I think it conjures thoughts of a not-for-profit association that raises money; philanthropy, if you will. Others insisted that the word reflects a formal business association of virtually any type.
So, that got me to thinking about - well, what people think.
I mean, when you hear about a public opinion poll, are you generally of the same mind of the majority? Do you think the process is scientific and accurate and credible? And just who the heck is asking whom all this stuff, anyway?
When we conduct surveys, a.k.a. opinion polls, at my day job, we know we're getting a thumbnail slice of the entire populace we'd really like to be polling.
So, how do we know it's even remotely correct as a representation of what most folks really, truly think?
First of all, there's the unknown variable of the pollster entity. Are they picking people who truly represent different walks of life - and how is that even decided? Are they enticing desired answers by offering survey participants some type of reward for skewing the numbers in one direction or another?
Then there are the respondents. Are they being truthful? Do they really believe what they're saying is valid? And, is it valid just because they're saying it?
A little more hmm.
Let's consider a very serious topic, shall we?
No, not Obama's ranking or the Tea Party's popularity. I'm talking about something that keeps every American up at night: whether or not your favorite television show is going to make it to the next season.
Look, this is tantamount. I can't rest and relax over the summer if I think, for one instant, that I won't have another round of singers to unfairly scrutinize over at "American Idol" - or that I'm not going to find out if Meredith and McDreamy stay together on "Grey's Anatomy."
You see, I've never entirely trusted the whole Nielsen ratings system and their diary polls. For all I know, the Nielsens are still holding the whole McVet and Addison thing against Meredith and McDreamy and are steering respondents away from the show. OK, maybe that's not the case since none of these people are actually real and all.
But still. How do we know if what we're hearing about what we're thinking is what we're really feeling?
And so, as I'm prone to do, I did my own consensus census.
I asked some pals if they believe the statistics generated by independent polls. The results of my survey survey? One hundred percent undecided.
Bonnie Simmons, a Trumbull County native, said, "I think they're a bunch of malarkey." OK, she used another word to end that sentence but we're a family column here.
Beth Wharton of Hubbard was a tad more trusting. "Oh, I think they're probably reflective of the majority, as a rule. I don't think it's all propaganda; most of it probably at least has some basis in truth."
Meanwhile, Jolynne Copeland of Hubbard is a complete conspiracy theorist. "Crap. Total crap, all of 'em. I never trust any of those stupid polls, no matter whether they're generated from the right or the left. I mean, for all we know, all of the opinion polls ever conducted in the history of opinion polls are completely bogus."
Whoa, easy, Jo.
And so, the Patty Poll Poll shows, if nothing else, public opinions are just a whole lotta attitude - and mighty personal, if you ask me.
Not that anyone has ...
---- Kimerer is a Tribune Chronicle columnist. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.