Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Disheartening Poll on Acceptance of Surveilance... Or Is It?

I came across the following headline on Reuter's today[1].

"Across U.S., nearly half say government spying OK within limits: Poll"

Being somewhat cynical about Washington's intentions on this issue after seeing our politicians immediately divert to the morning after pill and immigration law on Monday, I wasn't too surprised, and didn't really want to know the details, but read the article anyway.  What I found inside didn't jive with the headline, (I know, I shouldn't have been surprised by that either.)

Since I purport to be a scientist and I'm supposed to work with quantitative data, I thought I'd graph out Reuters' reported numbers for everyone.  (pictured below)


The chart, while pretty, (at least I think so, Tufte might beg to differ), is a bit hard to read, so here's the raw data, (picture 2).



I don't know, much about how polls are administered or interpreted, so I'll keep my commentary to a minimum.  Here goes:

1.  I assume the 'Totally Unacceptable' number broken out into phone and internet corresponds to the "More than one in three of those surveyed said the activity was completely unacceptable." quote in the article

2.  Seems like the headline could have gone either way.  The internet numbers for and against are the same.

3.  The Completely Acceptable (phone) category duplication isn't a typo here.  The number really was reported twice, and differently within a few sentences.  I assume it' a typo in the Reuters article?

That's all I've got.  I'm curious though, what are your thoughts on all this?  All opinions are welcome whether they be about the nature of surveillance, the nature of reporting here in the States, or other related tangents.


References:

1.  Reuter's Article
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/12/us-usa-security-nsa-poll-idUSBRE95B00U20130612


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