Why I Don’t Do the Survey Thing

Sometimes I will take a survey, but very rarely. I learned pretty quickly that the questions in most surveys frustrate me, and that my responses to most questions frustrate the person asking. This post should help explain why.

I’m working on a small assignment for school at the moment, and for it I found an archived survey carried out in 2007 in Alabama, by a reputable organization that conducts surveys as its business product. Here a few of the questions from the survey, along with something like I would be inclined to answer to each.

Question: Do you believe that the laws of God have authority over man-made laws such as state constitutions and state laws? Or, do you believe that God’s laws and man made laws are separate things?

My answer: This is not necessarily an either/or question, and in fact for one to have authority over the other, they must be separate. You have to be able to answer affirmatively to the latter in order to be able to for the former to make sense, so this question is not a reasonable question as stated. By the way, you should choose whether or not you want to hyphenate “man made” or not, or instead use “manmade.”

Question: In general, do you believe Alabama’s religion is primarily Judeo-Christian and the state should recognize and support that or do you believe that Alabama is made up of many different religions and the state should not recognize and support any one particular religion?

My answer: Again, these are not necessarily either/or. A state can be predominately Judeo-Christian and yet be made up of many religions. This should not be tied to the other point, and what you are really asking is whether the state should support the Judeo-Christian religion, or none at all. This excludes all other religions from the possibility of being supported. Also, your sentence should conclude with a “not/nor” construct, vice a “not/and” construct.

Question: Do you believe only symbols, such as the Ten Commandments, of the Judeo-Christian religion should be allowed in government places? Or, do you believe symbols of other religions should also be allowed?

Supplied answer domain:

Just symbols of the Judeo-Christian God

Symbols of other gods as well

Don’t Know / No Reply / Other

My answer: What about the choice of neither? Your question implicitly presupposes that Judeo-Christian symbols should be allowed. What you are asking is whether symbols from other religions should be allowed alongside Judeo-Christian symbols. Additionally, you are referring to the Judeo-Christian god as a proper name God, while all others are merely gods. This implies, for example, that the god of Islam (actually the same Creator Figure as in the Judeo-Christian religion) is not valuable enough to be addressed by more than its inclusion in a collective noun.

Question: Do you believe that how one feels about God and religion should be a personal matter and not connected to running for political office or that it should be a public matter and connected to running for public office?

My answer: Whether one considers his or her feelings about God and religion to be personal or public is not necessarily connected to that person’s running for office. The question you ask should simply be whether or not one’s faith should be connected to running for public office. Further, “connected” needs to be defined before an answer can be duly considered. The phrases “personal matter” and “public matter” are immaterial to the question, unless one assumes you are using the rhetorical power of the phrases to influence the respondent’s thinking.

And so on. See what I mean? That’s why I don’t do the survey thing.

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