Shooting the messenger

Here’s a suggestion to Malacañang. Stop complaining about the methodology of polling outfits like the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia. Put up your own in-house polling team or secretly bankroll a nominally independent but mercenary outfit. Then publish the results of their findings.

The people will know soon enough which findings are truly reflective of their sentiments and which ones are cooked in pursuit of propaganda.

Press Secretary Jesus Dureza has been complaining about the results of a recent Pulse Asia survey which shows that more people feel they are worse off now than they were a year ago. The exact figure of Pulse Asia is 75 percent, a 16 percent increase from a March 2008 survey.

Dureza’s beef is that Pulse Asia could have framed survey questions in such a way that a negative response would be elicited. He said he would ask the Marketing and Opinion Research Society to look into the methodology of Pulse Asia because if the latter is playing fast and loose with accepted research methods it could destroy the integrity of other polling institutions.

We wish Dureza all the luck. Pulse Asia is not a member of the Marketing and Opinion Research Society and we doubt Pepe Miranda or Anna Marie Abunda (and even Mahar Mangahas of Social Weather Stations) give a hoot about what an association of polling outfits servicing the needs of shampoo and toothpaste sellers would say..

In fact, Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations are subject to a more rigorous scrutiny of their methodologies than Dureza wants to make it appear. They are subject to a review by their peers. If Dureza had just a nodding acquaintance with the academic community, he would know that methodologies are wide open to criticism and woe unto the pollster who could not frame his questions appropriately or who neglected to pre-test his questionnaire exhaustively.

But let’s not belabor the point. The issue is not Pulse Asia’s credibility. It’s about arrogance and hubris. It’s a case of a despot ordering that the head of the bearer of bad news be cut off.

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