Monday, March 21, 2005

Inaccurate wording of questions produces expected result

The Washington Post-ABC News poll everyone is cited on the Schiavo case should be examined in light of the wording of the questions [bold indicates my emphasis], for example:

"Schiavo suffered brain damage and has been on life support for 15 years. Doctors say she has no consciousness and her condition is irreversible. Her husband and her parents disagree about whether she would have wanted to be kept alive. Florida courts have sided with the husband and her feeding tube was removed on Friday. What's your opinion on this case? Do you support or oppose the decision to remove Schiavo's feeding tube?"

I submit to you the average person hearing this question will envision Terri as brain dead, which she most assuredly is not. She's brain damage and is not completely cognizant of her surroundings, but the extent of the brain damage is not agreed upon without significant dispute.

If you think Mrs. Schiavo is incapable of feeling pain and is completely zoned out, you're likely to answer in a way which lends support to Michael Schiavo.

If, however, you've followed the case and know the facts beyond the misleading wording of the question in the poll, and you know that quite probably Schiavo will feel/is feeling the long, slow pains of dehyrdration and starvation, then it's quite probable your aversion to that barbaric notion driving you to agree with Terri's parents.

At any rate, 44 percent who responded to this poll said they had not closely been following the Schiavo story, 56 percent said they had. I'd like to see numbers broken down by those who closely followed the story and those who were going off vague impressions.