Letters to the Editor

The thing about pollsters and their reliability ...

Dear Sir,

I have this concern about the mind-controlling power that pollsters have in their hands for getting into our minds and how they use information to manipulate and handle us, the Bermudian public. Especially those foreign pollsters who are brought into Bermuda with a persuasive command of high-powered skills of communication and an almost endless knowledge in psychology and the social sciences of just what it takes to get inside our heads and drive our opinions in whatever direction that they wish.

Sir, even though I did not get to go to high school and had to drop out of elementary school to go to work so I wouldnít have to starve, the only mental tools I have managed to keep in my possession are the ability to read, think and ask questions.

Iím not one to just lean on information spoon-fed to me by others for their sake. Once I have been given any form of information, no matter what it is, I would go the extra mile to do the necessary research to find out if what I have been told is the definite truth; sometimes the information given would be spot-on, while other times it was off the mark and faulty.

Over the years, I have developed a good understanding of just how the system of polling works. Based on my observations on the conducting of polls, I am of the opinion that polls in their original state were carried out in a manner to find out just how people felt about certain issues of the day. But because of the advancement in social communication, technology and psychology, those who conduct polls have broadened their scope to cover wide-ranging aspects of human thought and behaviour from marketing, politics and even as far as trying to get into the heads of people to twist and bend their thoughts and opinions in whatever direction they wish.

It is the mentioning of this that takes me to a poll that was carried out just before the last election on July 15 by a polling firm used by The Royal Gazette, known as Global Research, which grabbed my undivided attention.

It is my opinion that this poll was a last-ditch effort to sway the electorate, which did not work and was designed to twist and bend the publicís opinion in a different direction and away from that which Global Research must have realised was out of its control. It must have been very disappointing and a shock to those who believed in this poll, only to witness just three days later on July 18 how badly flawed those results and numbers were.

One must understand that it is important to know that those who conduct polls in todayís world need to know and understand as much as they can of the total make-up and dynamics of a population.

Much research is done into the short-term movement and changes over a period of time; and in a small island such as Bermuda where the population of just 64,000 is very close and many people are related and know each other, for any international polling company dealing with conducting political polls here, it would be most important to understand as much as possible about the mindset and social make-up of all the races of Bermuda before they can begin to draft questions to carry out polls.

It must also be understood that these polling companies are not only skilled in seeking information from the individual, they are also skilled in drafting information that can be used in very effective ways to get into oneís head and bend your thoughts out of shape ó you would not have realised how much someone on the other end of a phone line that you did not know could twist your thoughts in another direction without you being aware of it.

It is on those grounds why itís so important for any polling company to do the necessary research to understand the cultural and social make-up of whatever the nation.

Sir, whenever I pick up my phone and it happens to be some pollster on the other end, I go on my guard and am very conscious of the question that is being asked and very cautious how I answer them. Tell me, what was Global Research trying?

E. McNEIL STOVELL

Pembroke