Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Pollsters and Decepticons

Many people throughout the world have been exposed to the “Transformers” movies, cartoons, toys, and action figures. The Transformers are a divided race of autonomous robots, split into warring factions called Decepticons and Autobots. Can you tell them apart?

These are their symbols:

The truth is that both are decepticons. They both work through deception. They both hide who they really are when they deem it to be expedient. They change their very shapes for the purpose of concealment while they pursue their agendas.

They can be distinguished from one another, however, through several attributes that cannot be hidden. They differ in the color of the light of their eyes, one red the other blue, matching the color of their life spark. They differ in the shapes of their heads and appendages, one very sinister and animalish the other softened and more anthropomorphic. Moreover their ultimate agendas and interaction with others, especially with humans, differ greatly.

When a pollster calls our house, I assume that I am being contacted by a Decepticon. I know that not all pollsters are Decepticons, but I almost never hear from the honest ones. And the ones that are commonly reported in the media are nearly always Decepticons.

The Republican Decepticons won’t even talk to me anymore. They call and ask for my wife, by name. When I tell them that she does not want to speak with them but that I will speak with them, they hang up. They already know who I am and what I will say. I don’t change my form or appearance for the sake of expediency, and I don’t allow myself to be polled in a manner that misrepresents me.

Most polls are absolutely deceptive in their design. For example:

“Do you agree with Obama on healthcare? Yes or No.”

In some parts yes and some parts no. This is not a valid yes or no question. It is designed so that it can be interpreted in ways that completely misrepresent my opinion.

“Do you believe that all Americans should have health insurance? Yes or no.”

Yes, I believe that with the current abusive health care costs that all Americans should have health insurance because the system is designed so that those who pay cash are overcharged exorbitantly. But I do not believe that all Americans should be forced to pay for health insurance and I especially do not believe that those who take the responsibility should be forced to pay for those who do not.

“Do you believe in climate change? Yes or no.”

Yes, of course I do, you idiot. It changes constantly, moment to moment. It changes daily. It changes weekly. It changes seasonally. It changes annually. It changes cyclically. It changes with solar flares. It changes locally. It changes regionally. It changes from day and night. It changes globally. But do I believe in the Algorist propaganda? That is an entirely different matter.

When pollsters call, I first ask whom they represent. If they will not tell me then I refuse to partake of the poll. I usually give pollsters a chance to ask a few questions so as to learn the type of questions. If the questions are rigged, I end my participation. Very few pollsters prove to be honest. Most whom I encounter are Decepticons.

Often these polls have far reaching impact. The interpretation of the results are used by many. Usually those who use these interpreted figures do not investigate to learn the basis of the interpretations, but rather, simply use the interpretations in accord with their own agendas.

Is this honest? No. But it also is not always deliberate dishonesty, or at least, it is not always planned dishonesty. We do not always evaluate our own motives to determine whether or not we are being honest, and so we proceed as if honesty can be presumed from ignorance.

Christians are notorious for this. Taking a minimalist view toward the doctrine of the Bible has led to horrible dishonesty and misrepresentation of that doctrine. Who can even count the number of different Christian religions who ultimately profess to believe in the same God, even though they interpret the words of the Bible differently from one another, usually differently than they actually stand written and apart from their proper context, and to very different ends?

Many other religions are misrepresented from their actual writings and doctrines as well. For example, I know a very nice Muslim gentleman with whom I have occasional conversations. From him I have learned some very disturbing things about the USA’s actions in Iraq. Yet this man is glad for the good things that the USA has done as well. He simply openly acknowledges the other things as well. But regarding Islam, when I responded to some of his comments about what the Quran actually teaches, his response was that one has to read between the lines. In other words, he picks and chooses, interpreting the religion according to what he considers to be expedient, just like most Christians. So he is really no more Muslim than most Christians are Christian.

In case you are wondering, this does all relate to the issue of the Decepticon pollsters.

I recently read a blog post entitled, “Comparing Least Religious Countries With Most Religious - Do We Need Religion to Thrive as a Society?” If you wish to read it, you’ll have to find it for yourself, because the article is not my focus. Rather, the quoted poll interpretation is my focus. The intent of the article is very plain from the title. Reading this article led me to investigate further. Of the countries reported by this Gallup poll is Estonia, a country of which I knew nothing. So I decided to learn about this country that Gallup reports to be the world’s least religious country, listing it as only 14% religious.

I found another article entitled Estonians least religious in the world. I share this one because it quotes the question that was used to reach this determination. I will quote the first three paragraphs from this article:

     Five EU members figure among the world's top 10 least religious countries, with Estonia leading the list, a new poll has shown.

     Just 14 percent of Estonians answered positively to the question: "Is religion an important part of your daily life?" according to a poll released by Gallup earlier this week.

     Estonia is followed by Nordic countries Sweden and Denmark, where 17 and 18 percent of those asked answered positively to the same question.

The question presented to those polled was:

“Is religion an important part of your daily life?”

From this Gallup then determines that 14% of the people of Estonia are religious! What a Decepticon move!

How many different ways can this question be understood or misunderstood?

Is this the same as asking people whether or not they count themselves as being religious?

How can anyone know how people would have responded if they had been asked, “Do you consider yourself to be non-religious?” Or how about, “Do you consider yourself to be a religious person?” Or how about, “Do you consider religion to play any role in your life?” Or how about even, “Do you consider religion to be important in your life?”

This Gallup question was designed to allow for the interpretation that was presented. It was not designed to be objective and to obtain data that truly represents the issue being evaluated.

At a person could very easily reach a very different conclusion. On the first page of the site, one of the currently highlighted articles is Tallinn Christmas market praised as one of the best in Europe. From the following featured photograph, would one assume this to be promoted as a secular or non-religious festival?

On their Estonian Culture page one of the highlighted links is Religion in Estonia with this featured photograph and information as the link.

Again, from that page on their web site:

Religion In Estonia

Since the 16th century, Estonia has been a predominantly protestant (Lutheran) country.

According to them, this predominance has survived the attempts of the Soviets to discourage all religious activity.

Short of a total ban, the Soviets did everything possible to discourage religious activity during their occupation of Estonia. Open believers were banned from most senior jobs.

Services are held in English every Sunday in the Lutheran Holy Ghost Church in Tallinn.

Here the tourism industry seems to take pride in the religious activities of their people, advertising it as a point that they want visitors to notice. They openly declare their country to be a “predominantly protestant (Lutheran) country.” They say that it has been this way since the 16th century.

Does this cause one to wonder about how honestly Gallup’s question and interpretation represent reality? Do Gallup’s question and interpretation honestly reflect how Estonians view themselves and desire to be represented? I certainly do not get that impression from their tourism web site.

Perhaps people should take into account the ways of the Decepticon pollsters before forming conclusions like the one suggested by the title of the article that moved me to take up this investigative endeavor: “Comparing Least Religious Countries With Most Religious - Do We Need Religion to Thrive as a Society?”

Even if the pollsters were not Decepticons and the people of various countries were as nonreligious as the Decepticons present, would that actually lead to the conclusion that the centuries of religious influence on people and their views and their ways has been erased? Has the influence of the teaching of the Ten Commandments been completely eradicated in the United States by the agenda of the activist judges who have removed them from government schools and other public places where they were displayed and even taught? Is it really true that what we have today in the way of morality can be counted as a non-product of the centuries of religious activity and influence? Even if the majority of people now counted themselves to be nonreligious, would that necessarily mean that the positive and beneficial views that they hold do not have ties to the influence that the religious have taught previously?

From the other perspective, does the obvious hypocrisy of many who counted and do count themselves as religious negate what has been taught through their religions? Who can honestly examine the Ten Commandments and not count their precepts to be good? Who can hear the doctrine of “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and not see how that benefits society?

Anyone who has ever heard of the Christian faith has heard this doctrine as well as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

What would you expect the results to show of a poll asking: “Does atheism teach love for neighbor?” or “Does the removal of all religious influence lead to more kindly relations between people in society?” And if your poll showed that the majority of people held one of these views, would it mean that it was so? Or vice versa?

It is amazing how blindly we can pursue a presupposed notion. In this particular connection, do people completely forget history? When people look to polls and even statistics regarding wealthy and powerful nations and societies that migrate from their previous following of religion and the ideals of that religion, do they forget that this has been the pattern displayed throughout history? Have not all of the nations begun as the poorer nations who looked to religion and the established precepts? As these goodly precepts promoted peace and unity the nation prospered, even when in some the precepts were not all good. As the prosperity and power increased, the people became less and less convinced of the necessity of devotion to their religion. Eventually the nation or civilization no longer resembled itself and the unity disintegrated and it fell, only to start over again as a poor and powerless people who focused again upon the precepts of religion. With one exception, new gods and religious systems were established. In the one case, each time the people returned to the same God and Scriptures and instead of inventing a new religion, returned to the constancy of what had been passed down from generations before. That religion has circumscribed the world.

Interestingly, the poll that is quoted in the references above is from the Gallup article of February 9, 2009, What Alabamians and Iranians Have in Common.

A more recent report from 2009 is listed at the August 31, 2010 article Religiosity Highest in World's Poorest Nations.

The most recent report that I have been able to find is at Gallop Global Reports. To view it one must scroll downward and click on Religion. This report is dated 2010.

It is certainly interesting to observe that according to these successive reports the percentage who answered yes to the question has increased each year from 14% in the earlier poll to 17% in the most recent poll. While this should not be taken too seriously, especially on account of the nature of the question, it certainly does not support the conclusion that the country is becoming less religious and that the people are counting themselves less dependent upon religion in their lives. It does seem to indicate one thing: that those who are thinking of themselves as religious may now be answering in a way that would indicate that they think of it more in terms of daily importance rather than general importance.

But it is just a poll and a statement of opinions utilizing a very faulty system of data gathering and analysis. In my evaluation we would be better off simply to say “No” to pollsters and deal directly with one another as loving neighbors and brethren.

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Canadian Atheist said...

First off, I'm a huge Transformers fan. I grew up watching the cartoon.

Second, however you want to interpret the poll questions, the fact is that in most developed countries, religion is declining. I watched an interview of Tim Minchin (comedian) yesterday who makes jokes about religion. He said in Europe or Australia, his God jokes make hardly a splash but when he visits the US, he gets gasps. In Europe, religion is almost non-existent or at least, it's far less important in peoples day to day lives.

You pointed out the Christmas lights and trees. Yes, those are secular symbols, stolen by Christians from the Pagans. Many Pagan holy places were also taken and their priests killed. Even Dec 25 was stolen from Pagans and was a Pagan holiday. If you took a picture of the front of my house at Christmas, using the logic you used in the article, you might conclude I was a Christian.

The ramshackle picture of the very small church doesn't do much to boost my confidence that religion is very important there either.

You said: Has the influence of the teaching of the Ten Commandments been completely eradicated in the United States by the agenda of the activist judges who have removed them from government schools and other public places where they were displayed and even taught?

The Ten Commandments or the golden rule aren't uniquely Christian. They can be found in many different religions. If Christians read more about other religions instead of relying on their Bible as the primary source of information, they would learn that most of the imagery, ideas, holidays and so forth are all stolen from older religions. It's no big secret, really, yet many Christians who base their lives around their religion do not know this.

Yes, Christianity has had a big influence on North American society. That doesn't mean we can't improve on the original model.

You said: What would you expect the results to show of a poll asking: “Does atheism teach love for neighbor?” or “Does the removal of all religious influence lead to more kindly relations between people in society?” And if your poll showed that the majority of people held one of these views, would it mean that it was so? Or vice versa?

Atheism has no dogma associated with it. However, lots of atheists are humanists or like to read philosophy etc. To say that a book that promotes slavery, rape, genocide, murder etc is so far above other books written in the area of morals is ignorant and false. While the Bible does have some good aspects to it, it also promotes some horrible things. We (meaning atheists) can read it, extract the value we find and discard the meaningless dogma.
You said: With one exception, new gods and religious systems were established.
This should tell you something. Christianity is not the oldest religion and others came before it. Many lasted a long time and are still practiced today.

You said: It does seem to indicate one thing: that those who are thinking of themselves as religious may now be answering in a way that would indicate that they think of it more in terms of daily importance rather than general importance.

Perhaps. Or it could mean that the US is one of the last developed countries to realize that faith based thinking can only take you so far. Evidence based thinking is preferable.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

I wrote a response to this on Jan. 20th, but chose to hold back from responding. I did not want to react strongly, but it seems that such a comment leaves little room for anything else.

I am responding not so much for the sake of the Canadian Atheist or others of that mindset as I am for those who want to hear the points that I am making. In other words, I am giving this response for the sake of those who could be led into confusion or doubt regarding what should be easily observed.

I realize that one who has already determined that religion is not a good thing and to be discredited will not likely hear the points being made. I am writing for those who actually desire to hear these points.

Is it wise even to try to explain my motives? For those who actually want to understand, perhaps there is some wisdom.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Dear Canadian Atheist,

Thanks for reading and commenting. However, your commentary is puzzling. I do not know whether you are truly blind or merely attacking senselessly because of your predetermined agenda. You seem to be so obsessed with attacking faith and religion that you cannot even hear the points that are made validly. I don’t really want to respond to this, yet I feel an obligation to the other readers not to allow this to go unaddressed. Perhaps I am mistaken and should have simply moved forward. Yet this is my blog, which is dedicated to proclaiming the truth, myself absolutely believing the Gospel to be the truth.

Regarding pollsters, polling is a carefully studied art and even a scientific study. Accurate and honest polling takes into account the many factors that bias responses and attempt to remove such factors from the polling questions. There is no excuse for the use of the question upon which this poll is based, especially in determining whether the people of a country consider themselves to be religious. This was my first point about the fraudulent pollsters, and not only in the arena of religion. This poll question was deliberately constructed to produce a false low. Moreover, to form such a broad and comprehensive interpretation of data on such a complex subject as personal religiosity based upon a single question is asinine, and absolutely fraudulent.

You did likewise with my post. You did not deal honestly with what I presented.

Your attack on my points does not deal with my points honestly nor in their context. To state that religion is in decline in developed countries as though I said otherwise is to set up a straw man argument. Then, to quote from an interview with a comedian as if his singular opinion were in any way valid evidence, don’t embarrass yourself. You seem to be a very intelligent person who is capable of genuine and honest evaluation of criteria. Moreover, a comedian who advertises himself with “do you like secularism and skepticism?” is not likely to have many people in his audience who are surprised by his ridicule of God and faith (except perhaps in America).

I pointed to information provided at the website of the Estonian visitation or tourism industry. I gave the links for the site and for each bit of information that I quoted, including the photos and additional photos. You chose to attempt to discredit my point by insulting their building. That is neither polite, nor honest, nor credible.

Moreover, you ignored what the photo shows, and blatantly misquoted me. I did not point to Christmas trees and lights. I shared a photo and asked people what they see. You saw Christmas trees, lights, and a church building that you chose to insult. There are actually two church buildings even in this photo, and they are well maintained. Moreover, you chose to ignore what is in the display itself. You completely ignored the creche and manger scenes. More importantly still is what is absent from this scene. There are no elves, no Santa, no reindeer, no Frosty, no Grinch, no emphasis of anything secular or foreign to the birth of Christ.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

You use a tired, old, and false cliche regarding paganism and Christmas and Christmas trees. You obviously have not taken the time to read how the date for Christmas in the western Church was actually chosen. You obviously do not know that the popular use of the Christmas tree was Luther’s gift, based upon thoughts entirely Christian, in a land where no use of such trees was known, which spread throughout areas where Lutherans observed Christmas.

You don’t believe in Christ or Christmas. You don’t care about or value the historic roots and symbolism and doctrine. You try to discredit them and argue that the world would be better without them. This and other photos and information on the Visitestonia website show that these people do know and value these things and display them prominently in their capital city. They go to considerable effort to do so. They pride themselves on this and advertise it for all the world to see. Moreover, they openly declare that since the 16th century they have been a “predominantly protestant (Lutheran) country.” They also tell how the Soviets persecuted them and how those who openly declared their faith were kept from the better jobs. They are telling the world that for many years they were afraid of open acknowledgment of their religion. Those who did this to them are not entirely gone. As you exuberantly display, people who will mock them and misrepresent them are not hard to find. Yet even the biased Gallup poll shows that each successive year more people have responded positively in small degrees. This point I acknowledged should not be treated too seriously. In fact, the primary point of my article is that such polls cannot be counted as reliable to be used for any purpose. I openly state that even to make my own point about religion that such a poll is not a reliable source. Instead, I point to what the people themselves are openly declaring to the world in actions as well as words.

In this article I argue that religions have had historic effects and affects that cannot be ignored. I used the Ten Commandments as an example for the indelible influence of religious teaching in America. You are the one who narrowed this to the Christian faith. I did go on to quote Moses and Jesus and the Christian faith, but I also spoke in very broad terms regarding religious influence upon societies and morality. I also referred to the historicity of the repeated pattern of religions and societies.

You falsely claim “Atheism has no dogma associated with it.” The very name itself declares otherwise, as does any person who argues for it. The primary dogma of Atheism is; “No God.” This is the atheist’s mantra and dogma above all else. Just check the American Atheists web site at One could also check the Wikipedia definition. Better yet is’s definition: “the doctrine or belief that there is no God.”

Sure sounds as though these sources associate a dogma with atheism. So do you on your blog. You teach about atheism continually. You have atheists who agree with you about what you teach. This is the very definition of dogma!

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

You said:

To say that a book that promotes slavery, rape, genocide, murder etc is so far above other books written in the area of morals is ignorant and false. While the Bible does have some good aspects to it, it also promotes some horrible things.

If by “a book” you mean the Bible, your statement is patently false. Such a claim cannot be made without deliberately, abusively, and deceitfully ripping statements from their context.

You destroy any credibility that you may hold with such blanket falsehoods. If you make specific references to Scriptures and comment on those in their total context, that at least shows a measure of integrity. To anyone who has honestly studied the Bible to learn what it actually teaches, this statement is manifestly incredulous.

Moreover, my point had nothing whatsoever to do with one book’s moral superiority over other books. I do hold that position, but I did not make that point here. This is your issue that you brought with you to this discussion.

You said: “We (meaning atheists) can read it, extract the value we find and discard the meaningless dogma.” You can do whatever you want. That does not make it valid or honest.

You said: “Christianity is not the oldest religion and others came before it.”

Such statements are wearisome and do you no credit. They profit you nothing. They gain you no credibility with me or anyone else. No one is going to be influenced by such statements. They are not even pertinent to the point of the discussion. Even if you could prove this point, which you cannot, not without applying your own definition to Christianity, it does not relate to the point being considered. By arguing this point against me you only demonstrate your obsession with denying God and religion. You cannot even allow me to make a point about Christianity as an example of how religions have made an enduring impact on the societies in which they have been taught and how it has grown to have such influence worldwide, without attacking Christianity.

This does not reflect well upon you and your claim to be arguing rationally and objectively. Besides that, it is disrespectful and offensive.

Regarding Christianity, I speak openly, even in this article, regarding how it has been used and abused and how “Christians” have done bad things under its name. When I speak of atheism, I quote dictionaries and even atheist web sites. When I speak of Estonia, I link to their information and attempt to let them speak for themselves. I even refer to Gallup according their own web site. When I wonder about what has been said about Estonia and even about Gallup, I verify the information through original sources before commenting. Furthermore, I present the information and invite people to evaluate for themselves.

This is how I believe that things should be done. This is what my religion teaches. My religion is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you would like to know more about what this Gospel teaches, keep reading. It is not what you say of it. But you won’t learn that while picking and choosing from what I say so as to make your own points contrary to what I actually say.

On your blog you say that you like to learn what other people believe and that you respect them and their views. I challenge you to prove it.

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