The NATO poll nonsense

Political Parties, Scottish Policy, UK Policy Oct 13, 2012 3 Comments

Claiming the spurious poll on NATO membership tells us anything shows a complete disregard for the science of measuring opinion

Some people are still going on about that NATO poll as if it means something. So one last shot…

Clear your mind; the correct answer is the first answer that comes into your mind so don’t think about it. Who would you like to have sex with?

This of course works better verbally but the chance is you didn’t think of your current partner. But don’t feel bad or guilty – its not your fault, it’s the question. ‘Would’ is a modal verb, which means its very purpose is to indicate not existing fact but future or theoretical possibility – the word primes you to think of a situation different from the current situation. It also encourages risk-free imaginative responses, ones that aren’t going to happen so you don’t need to worry about how you answer. And ‘like’, a word almost wholly focused on aesthetic reactions rather than deeper value judgements. It is encouraging you to select on the basis of the most limited criteria. The question is designed to make you answer in a theoretical and superficial way. The important question is the current, active, value-based question. Who DO you WANT to have sex with?

“Do you feel safer in a crash helmet?” Well, I hadn’t thought about it. I suppose I definitely don’t feel less safe in a crash helmet. I still feel safe from all the things I was safe from before (plague, flood, zombies) but now I also feel safe from small objects landing on my head. “Do you feel safer in your duvet?” Hmmm, I guessing FEEL safer I my duvet. It’s cosy. Bad things don’t usually happen to me in my duvet. “Do you feel safer in your house?” Eh, yes. It’s cold outside and raining. “Do you feel safer in NATO?” I’ll tell you what, shall we just agree from now on that I will always FEEL safer IN something. As long as you don’t give me a comparator like a “than you would if…” which would enable me to make a sensible comparison. Because that would make me realise that I felt perfectly safe before and actually on balance no less so.

“Do you want an independent Scotland to remain in NATO?” Now, that’s a question I hadn’t considered before. But then, you just said it was safer. No, you did, I heard you. You just said ‘NATO’ and ‘safer’ right next to each other. I’m meant to answer yes, amn’t I? That’s the right answer, isn’t it? Because no-one likes to get the answer wrong.

DO NOT MISTAKE THIS CHEAP PR STUNT FOR A SERIOUS OPINION POLL. Because these aren’t the questions that should have been asked. The real question, the important question, is quite different:

What kind of Scotland DO you WANT to live in?

Robin McAlpine

3 Responses to “The NATO poll nonsense”

  1. Peter A Bell says:

    Unfortunately, Robin McAlpine fails to consider the crucial matter of context. Being asked about your preferences in terms of a sexual partner in the context of a chat amongst friends in the pub is a very different thing from being posed the same question in the context of a meeting with your spouse’s divorce lawyer.

    All the fuss about the referendum question supposes that people come to that question unprepared or unaffected by more than two years of discussion on the matter they are being questioned about. Similarly, people being asked about Scotland’s relationship with Nato are almost inevitably going to be aware of the controversy surrounding this topic. It would be naive to imagine that this does not affect the way they hear and interpret the question.

  2. Tony Kenny says:

    Hiya Robin.

    Haven’t came across this poll, any chance of a link.

    I have yet to come up against anyone with a cogent reason to vote for changing SNP party policy on NATO. I suspect that most voting for the motion are doing so because the leadership have voiced support, and I am now convinced that it is being done to get rid of activists like me who couldn’t put up with the hypocrisy of being party to an armed nuclear gang.

  3. Jmax123 says:

    I’m sorry Tony but: ‘armed nuclear gang,’ is nowhere near constituting a balanced description of NATO. It is a collective defence partnership, one which has many non-nuclear members and I want to see an independent Scotland as one of them. Boycotting NATO will amount to nothing more than placing sanctions on ourselves for the nuclear policies of other nation states. Let other nations have their so called, ‘nuclear deterrents’, the best we can do is not allow such weapons in our country.

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