Ask me no questions, tell me no truths

Why ask questions now, bitch?!

So, here we sit in the longest war in American History, and the only major scientific survey of American political attitudes, the General Social Survey, has no plans to ask any Americans what they think about the War on Islam. None. Never. Nothing. This is the most egregious example of the takeover of the social sciences by conservative interests that I can imagine. Nothing. Nothing in almost a decade. We’re supposed to rely on Fox News polls with 2% response rates which ask nothing about social background factors? Is that it? Why? What questions are being asked in the last four editions of the GSS from 2004, 2006, 2008, and now 2010 GSS during which our wars have been raging? Why were those questions asked instead of questions about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which were taking the lives of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis? Why? Oh, Jesus fucking shit, we all know why!!! It’s because the GSS and the ANES and other surveys are whored out to right wing private foundations like Templeton and Pew, and once they are finished asking such important questions as “does your religion help you in life” or “is the Republican party more family friendly” or whatever the fuck, there is no room left on the schedule to ask what Americans think about the New Crusades. Fuck you, you fucking fucks, and you know who you are. You are whores of the highest order, and I have no respect for you. Of course, that means nothing to you, since I don’t hold the purse strings to any grants you hope to get….


11 Responses to “Ask me no questions, tell me no truths”

  1. Conrad Hackett Says:

    I think that NSF provided money to fund some suggested GSS questions beginning with the 2010 round. Did you suggest any questions? It may still be possible to make a suggestion for 2012.

    While the GSS is probably not well suited for asking about timely news issues, these wars have been so prolonged and significant (in cost of lives and money, if not attention of the US public) that it would certainly be appropriate for the GSS to ask questions about the wars.

  2. sherkat Says:

    No. I stopped trying a long time ago. I suggested an entire battery (including repeats from the 1988) for a religion module some time ago, not one of the items were included.

    War is not a timely news issue. This isn’t fluff. It’s war. Anytime the United States is at war, it is the duty of social scientists who study opinions to gauge whether or not Americans are in favor of killing people and sacrificing American lives and resources, and to assess whether support for carnage and catastrophe are concentrated in particular segments of the population.

  3. Conrad Hackett Says:

    Perhaps the best data for questions you are likely to be interested in is available here:

    Many of the Pew surveys include questions about the war(s) and background questions on religion (though typical surveys do not ask the detailed battery of affiliation measures).

  4. sherkat Says:

    Yes, and so does the Baylor Survey. But neither the disjointed efforts of Pew nor the Baylor project obtain response rates that justify the publication of analyses in social scientific journals, and neither study is freely available to the scientific community. You can’t (or shouldn’t be able to….) publish from crappy data, so the existence of schlock studies doesn’t fill the data gap left by the whoring out of public scientific resources.

  5. Conrad Hackett Says:

    The Pew data is freely available at

    My reading of the literature on response rates suggests that scholars may be too quick to dismiss surveys with response rates lower than those found in the most rigorous (and expensive) academic surveys.

    I think it is our obligation to use the best data available and to acknowledge the limitations of that data.

  6. sherkat Says:

    Does anyone who does not have a conflict of interest regarding research they’ve participated in with poor response rates say shit like that? Based on what statistical theory is it totally cool to violate the first principle of random sampling? Sure, you can find some whore who says its perfectly ok to use data with shit response rates. And, sure, maybe you have something which is so unique and so lacking in other data sources that it merits a research note in a third tier journal….

  7. Conrad Hackett Says:

    Robert Groves ( argues that we should strive for high response rates but that

    “Assembly of methodological studies whose designs permit estimation of
    nonresponse bias shows that empirically there is no simple relationship
    between nonresponse rates and nonresponse biases. That is, research results comport with the assertion that covariances between survey variables and response propensities are highly variable across items within a survey, survey conditions, and populations. Hence, there is little empirical support for the notion that low response rate surveys de facto produce estimates with high nonresponse bias.”

    Groves’ work on this topic seems “fair and balanced” to me.

  8. sherkat Says:

    Yes, I’m quite familiar with former Professor and now US Census Bureau director (he must know Rahm….) Groves’ research. Among his consultancies are the following shady ass beltway bandit organizations (from his CV):

    The Gallup Organization, A.C. Nielsen and Company, The Urban Institute, MORPace Research, Arbitron, Inc., Edison/Mitofsky Research, Nielsen Media Research.

    It is no wonder that that particular article won an award from the AAPOR, since they want a justification to do more surveys and make more money. Survey research has become an industry, rather than a tool for the social sciences.

  9. Conrad Hackett Says:

    I suppose Groves could also be biased by his experience working with NCHS, NIH, the GAO, Statistics Sweden, New Zealand Department of Statistics, etc. It seems fitting to me that an expert on survey response would consult with a wide variety of organizations that want help improving their survey design.

    Did you have any objections to the substance of Groves’ arguments?

    I think survey research has long been both an industry and a tool for academic research.

  10. sherkat Says:


  11. James Sweet Says:

    Jeez, yeah, opinions on a several year ongoing war seem to be a natural fit for the GSS. It’s not much more “topical” than SOSECNU, for instance — and arguably touches on more fundamental characteristics of a person.

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