Biased survey found predetermined outcome

Dear Editor:

In August, 2016 The Pew Charitable Trust (Philadelphia, PA) hired the Benenson Strategy Group to conduct a survey asking questions about Bears Ears National Monument. This was approximately four months prior to the designation made by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2016.  The Pew survey stated that a clear majority of registered voters in Utah – 55 percent – supports the idea of protecting Bears Ears as a new national monument. This statement has been overly used at different news stations, articles, and many Op-Eds.

The survey was “Fielded July 26 – 31, 2016 among 600 registered voters in Utah with an oversample of 100 in select counties in Southeastern Utah.” (http://www.pewtrusts.org). Based on this developed Pew poll, I decided to conduct my own poll, to possibly debunk, argue, discredit and explain how the Pew poll could be stacked and misinterpreted.

The Pew Charitable Trusts Utah: Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Survey

I found loaded questions like, “There is currently a proposal being considered to designate other public land in Utah as a national monument. This land, south of Canyonlands National Park, is commonly referred to as the Bears Ears area. As a national monument, the land remains open for grazing, rights of way, hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities, but new development, mining and oil and gas drilling is prohibited. Do you support or oppose the idea to make Bears Ears area in Utah a protected national monument? Do you…?”

And… “Now I’d like to talk to you about public lands managed by national agencies, such as national parks, national forests, national monuments, national wildlife refuges, or other national public lands. I’m going to mention a few priorities that some people have for these national public lands. Please tell me how important each one is to you personally. Is it very important, somewhat important, not very important or not at all important as a priority for national public lands?” with these topics:

• “Protecting and conserving the land for future generations.
• “Ensuring access for recreational activities such as hiking, biking, hunting and fishing.
• “Available for livestock grazing.
• “Making sure resources such as oil and gas, minerals or timber are available for development, mining and logging.”

There are many different types of data, statistical, factual (i.e. mathematical), etc. Statistical data can be biased, illusory, and restrictive, in such a way that it is influenced, and does not fairly represent the population. This data may not mean what it’s asserted to mean, even if the results are theoretically accurate, and thus, the ability to be a ‘statistical white lie’.

The Benenson Strategy Group has a testimonial directly on their website that states, “Benenson Strategy Group is a strategic research consultancy that marries language expertise with innovative research to frame choices so that your brand is the only answer.”

In other words, this company can and will issue the subject matter that favors whatever outcome you desire.

I’m certain that Pew soundly financed BSG to conduct this survey, as the saying “follow the money trail” is relatively dead-on.

I’d like to show you a comparison of a poll I conducted with similar questions, and more objective answer choices. I’ll let you decide the conclusion.

-Devin Hancock

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Read more:San Juan Record – Classifieds, Events, Businesses in Monticello, San Juan County, Utah – Biased survey found predetermined outcome

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