COLUMN: To web poll, or not to web poll

Although not scientific, web opinion polls have their place Thom argues

Whenever we put up an opinion poll on our website, we inevitably get slagged for it.

One criticism that almost always comes up is ‘why have a poll like this?’

Why, indeed?

Our web polls are hardly random, usually a statistically low sample size, sometimes skewed by motivated special interest groups and therefore not scientific.

But that is not their intent.

The results are, nevertheless, interesting from a local perspective in a number of ways.

LAST WEEK: Coastal GasLink can’t be blamed for everything

For example, in our recent poll on climate change some people were outraged we were giving a platform to climate change deniers, that this issue has been settled, and we should just ignore the fact there are dissenting opinions.

I agree that the science has been settled. Climate change is happening and human activity is the primary driving force.

What is not settled is how people feel about it. The specific result was just about a 50-50 split between climate change being caused by human activity and being primarily the result of natural cycles is by no means scientific, but it is an indication that a significant portion of the local population doesn’t get it.

And that’s not something to be swept under the carpet. We are not in the business of policing opinion. We are in the business of exposing opinions, no matter how wrong or unfounded they are.

Clearly, more education is required, both on climate change and the role of newspapers.

MORE BARKING AT THE BIG DOG:

Time to vote for time change change

Citizenship oath an unacceptable double standard

Most recently we asked if people supported the Tahltan trying to evict jade and placer miners from their traditional territory.

That generated a fascinating discussion about democracy. It never ceases to amaze me how so many people who live in a liberal democratic society do not understand the concept of liberal democracy.

It is not “majority rules.” We are governed by principles enshrined in a constitution that is designed specifically to protect minorities from the potential tyranny of the majority.

If our democratically elected officials attempt to circumvent those principles, we have institutional checks and balances—i.e., the courts—to hold them to account.

It was suggested that asking the majority to vote on the rights of a minority is something that doesn’t happen in a democracy.

If The Interior News was an elected body and our poll was a referendum that would result in a law that infringed minority rights, that would indeed be antithetical to democracy.

But we are a news organization and it was a web opinion poll that gives us a qualitative gauge of what our readership is thinking.

We reported on the story because Indigenous rights and title and resource extraction are important issues.

We ran a poll on it for the same reason.

Again, the results are non-scientific and therefore not of much quantitative use if it were to be used for, say policy development purposes.

But again, that was not its intent, either.

It does gives us qualitative sense, however, that there is a great deal of support for Indigenous rights well beyond the Indigenous population itself.

That’s encouraging because the specific issue of placer mining is not just a First Nations issue. It appears this activity is extremely widespread in B.C. and either poorly regulated or inadequately enforced, perhaps both, and provides very little return for the risks associated with it.

In general, web polls are community snapshot at best and almost more entertainment than news.

But if nothing else, they show us we have a very engaged readership and for that we are grateful.



editor@interior-news.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Witset chosen for housing innovation funding program

Proposal to build healing lodge for at-risk youth one of four selected in B.C.

Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation and hereditary chiefs agree to future meeting

Scott Fraser was in Smithers on Jan. 22 and spoke with Office of the Wet’suwet’en representatives

Unist’ot’en Camp say RCMP have changed 27 kilometre roadblock rules

Footage shows RCMP telling an unidentified lawyer they can’t re-enter the checkpoint

B.C. Indigenous communities receive funding for hands-on trades training

Nuxalk, Witset, Penticton Indian Band, TRU Williams Lake, and Camosun College among beneficiaries

Telkwa bridge struck by empty logging truck

The truck hit the bridge on its east side and appears to have damaged a wooden beam

VIDEO: Mass coronavirus quarantines seen in China won’t happen in Canada, authorities say

‘If a case comes here, and it is probably … it will still be business as normal’

Province’s oldest practising lawyer shares advice at her 100th birthday party

Firefighters bring Constance Isherwood a cake with 100 birthday candles

Vernon woman suing McDonald’s for spilled coffee

Woman seeking nearly $10K, says employee failed to put lid on properly

Diners’ health tax not catching on in B.C., restaurant group says

Small businesses look for options to cover employer health tax

B.C. comic wins judgment after club owner slaps cellphone out of his hands

Incident happened last summer when Garrett Clark was performing in Abbotsford

UPDATED: Mayors call for ‘calmness’ as highway rockslide cuts Tofino, Ucluelet off from supplies

Ministry of transportation expects to open road for “essential travel only” from noon-8 p.m. Friday.

Owner surrenders dog suffering from days-old gunshot wound to B.C. SPCA

The dog was also found to be emaciated and suffering from a flea infestation

B.C. man dies after police called for ‘firearms injury’ in rural Alberta

Victim is 30-year-old Greater Victoria man, say police

Most Read