LETTERS: Online survey about dogs on promenade contains no meaningful information

LETTERS: Online survey about dogs on promenade contains no meaningful information

Editor: Has anyone on council ever considered how reliable online public opinion surveys really are?

Editor:

Re: Dogs-on-Promenade survey shows majority approval, July 9.

Does it really?

White Rock council wanted to know what residents were thinking when it comes to dogs on the promenade, and so it is that we have now had two public-opinion surveys showing major approval.

However, has anyone on council ever considered how reliable and accurate these online surveys are?

To be sure, public-opinion surveys can be accurate and reliable if conducted by professional polling organizations who have the expertise to conduct an accurate, scientific and reliable poll. However, they are expensive and time-consuming. Council opted to do a couple of cheap and quick internet polls.

Internet polls, according to experts, are by far the worst kind of polls because they are not randomized and therefore appeal only to those with a vested interest in the question. There is no meaningful information at all, except perhaps in the number and passion of people who respond. Unless questions are carefully crafted, they can be misleading.

Wharton statistics professor Robert A. Stine is unabashedly blunt when it comes to his appraisal of internet surveys: “they are worthless, except for the purpose of idle entertainment.” Perhaps that statement is a bit too harsh for council to swallow.

Then what about the corporate report submitted to mayor and council for the June 29 meeting, which states that “there were other areas considered for assessment, such as environmental/wildlife impacts, negative dog interactions, that would not be captured by these online surveys.”

Perhaps that was a bit too subtle for council to notice.

Council has to stop endorsing and then using these meaningless and inaccurate online public opinion surveys. They do make good headlines – and what politician doesn’t like a good headline?

Chris Plettenberg, White Rock

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