Bad Polling

Guh. People–especially conservatives–talk all the time about how polls are skewed by their questions. Try this one at, for instance:

The Pledge of Allegiance

Do you agree with the federal appeals court ruling that the Pledge of Allegiance, with the words “under God,” is unconstitutional?

Yes, the Pledge violates the separation of church and state.

No, “under God” belongs in the Pledge.

Not sure.

Whether or not I agree with the ruling is made irrelevant in this poll by the followon, attendant verbiage. I don’t think having “under God” in there violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, but the more I think about it, I don’t think “under God” necessarily belongs in the Pledge, either.

I’m tempted to answer “Not sure.”, because my true answer doesn’t lie with either qualifier. But given the political climate that’s present in the aftermath of the 9th Circuit’s ruling, giving a “Not Sure” is probably on the order of voting for a third-party candidate for President.

All of this leads me to something from my lunch yesterday with PJ: he and a mutual friend are taking PY 530: “Psychometrics 3 hrs. History and development of psychological testing with special emphasis given to both theory and process of effective evaluation. Prerequisites: AHS 300 and PY 311.” The reason PJ and Julie are in the class is to remove bias errors in their surveys of students for their research in Engineering Management [of which study of the UAH Integrated Product Teams design class is a large part]. I’m interested in the class because of bias errors in polling.

Now, I have to see if I can fit this class in to my Public Affairs program, because dammit, I’m interested in this stuff, and I can finally take a class with PJ. 🙂


  1. hmm, pledge of allegiance… dunno.

    they have changed the Canadain anthem at least once already… and there was some recent debate on changing it again. in typical canadian fashion though, it has sort of fallen to the side in a fit of unbridled apathy. but i really dont mind the mention of God in the canadian anthem… its part of it. it doesnt mandate WHICH god you are appealing to… and ‘[gG]od’ is a pretty inclusive english moniker for $deity, at least, thats how i feel.

  2. I was listening to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered yesterday to an an interview with Dr. John A. Baer, who has done much research on the Pledge. I learned some interesting things.

    It was originally written by a Baptist preacher who did not have "under God" in the text. It wasn’t even originally referential to the United States, but rather to all republics of the time, since republican [small ‘r’] governments were seen by him as the "good guys" in the world.

    It was modified by the American Legion the next year [1893?] to be referential to the U.S.ofA. The Knights of Columbus were the ones to add the "under God" reference prior to the Congressional resolution that set down the current text in ’53 that Eisenhower signed into law in ’54. Bloody Catholics. 🙂

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