R.M.Alger

An Interesting Little Survey

8 posts in this topic

I admit I don't quite know what to make of this survey, in terms of overall trends:

lib-age.jpg

Is it just me, or are there little contradictions in people's answers? (Those contradictions probably come from misunderstandings about what these words actually mean.)

Some of the answers surprised me. For instance, I'm surprised that the younger generation regarded "family Values" better then the oldest one.

Here's a big question: does the older generation represent a different time in political history, or does this survey show that people change as they get older? There's a big difference, and it would be very hard to give this survey any wider meaning without knowing which is which.

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When I first looked at this study I thought there was something that bothered me, but I did not recognize it at first. I am also not sure what the creator of this study is trying to show or prove with their results besides the fact that different age groups have different perspectives on the subjects questioned as I do not have the full study to review.

With that stated I am almost willing to throw out the whole study as I do not see any definitions of the terms that people are being asked to side on. For example, "civil liberties" and "civil rights." There really is no such thing as "civil liberties", "civil rights" nor even "states rights" as there is only individual rights and liberties. The people who created these questions/study seem to have left the terms capitalism, statism, progressive, libertarian, militia and others undefined and then expect people to decide where they stand. I am left wondering if someone was to state what capitalism really is, if not more people would agree to support it. In other words, if the respondents knew that it is either the freedom which is protected and flourishes only under capitalism or the lack of freedom and stagnation that comes from socialism/statism would they still choose to back enslavement.

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This is a wider comment than this particular survey, but I give very little weight to most opinion surveys and polls, particularly ones like this with convoluted questions.

Surveys like this tell you nothing about how many people had any opinion about the question being asked until the moment it was asked, whether the participant understands the question, the strength of the opinion, and whether the issue is of any importance or motivation in the person's life.

Occasionally, a survey will inadvertently reveal this, like when it asks two questions which clearly reduce to the same issue, but the results are different based on how it is worded. Of course, the media does not like to let surveys like this slip through, because it could expose the sham. (I don't feel that this survey quite does this, as it's difficult to actually know the overlap in the "contradictory" answers to the opposing questions like "capitalism" and "socialism", and the question of whether those terms are exact opposites itself depends on your philosophy, so the survey doesn't necessarily demonstrate a trivial failure to understand the questions.)

There are two exceptions where survey results may convey actual knowledge:

(1) Those that ask direct, clear questions that the person probably already decided--the only major instance of this, is asking how somebody is going to vote in an election. The other is

(2) Asking the same questions to different groups, or to the same groups, at different times. Then you have a control, and experimental factor. You can gauge the direction, and to some degree, magnitude, of change in opinions over time, or in relation to other factors.

It's frustrating seeing the media and commentators draw vast conclusions based on inferences that people will act and vote fully consistently with how they answered some convoluted survey question(s).

Back on the subject of this survey, not surprisingly as an Objectivist, I side with the minority for most answers. Particularly "states' rights" and "family values". Both are package deals meant to denigrate individual rights, and individual values, respectively.

I am also not sure what the creator of this study is trying to show or prove with their results besides the fact that different age groups have different perspectives on the subjects questioned

You're right. That's all the survey really shows. Other than that, it demonstrates widespread, massive misunderstandings of certain package deals, more than it shows people's philosophies in a manner that suggests how they will vote or act.

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I admit I don't quite know what to make of this survey, in terms of overall trends:

lib-age.jpg

Here's a big question: does the older generation represent a different time in political history, or does this survey show that people change as they get older? There's a big difference, and it would be very hard to give this survey any wider meaning without knowing which is which.

I suspect that this survey indicates, at least weakly, that people change as they get older. Even though the terms in this survey are undefined, I would think that far more than 23% of the individuals in the 50-64 age category, would have answered a positive view of socialism, if they had been asked when they were young, say in the 1960s. I know for a fact that many of my classmates in America during the 1960s were sympathetic to socialism. However, I grew up in the northeast of the USA. Maybe fewer of the young people of the 1960s were sympathetic to socialism in the American South and the Midwest.

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I suspect that this survey indicates, at least weakly, that people change as they get older. Even though the terms in this survey are undefined, I would think that far more than 23% of the individuals in the 50-64 age category, would have answered a positive view of socialism, if they had been asked when they were young, say in the 1960s. I know for a fact that many of my classmates in America during the 1960s were sympathetic to socialism. However, I grew up in the northeast of the USA. Maybe fewer of the young people of the 1960s were sympathetic to socialism in the American South and the Midwest.

"A man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart. A man who is still a socialist at age 40 has no head."

(I guess I have no heart :D)

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I suspect that this survey indicates, at least weakly, that people change as they get older. Even though the terms in this survey are undefined, I would think that far more than 23% of the individuals in the 50-64 age category, would have answered a positive view of socialism, if they had been asked when they were young, say in the 1960s. I know for a fact that many of my classmates in America during the 1960s were sympathetic to socialism. However, I grew up in the northeast of the USA. Maybe fewer of the young people of the 1960s were sympathetic to socialism in the American South and the Midwest.

"A man who is not a socialist at age 20 has no heart. A man who is still a socialist at age 40 has no head."

(I guess I have no heart :D)

I guess that I had no heart back in 1974, when I was 20, either. Although I was on the premise of altruism, I was adamantly opposed to socialism. In fact, one of the reasons that I went insane in 1972, was the fact that I sensed the "hatred of the good for being the good" with which the Swedish culture was saturated with, and I couldn´t stand it. I was an altruist who was not malicious, a "good-natured" altruist.

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Without seeing the actual questions that were asked, it's impossible to interpret these results. If the respondents were just confronted with these terms without definitions, then the survey is invalid. As is it doesn't indicate anything but reactions to words, not ideas.

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