Believe it or Not: NZ Survey

13 08 2008

The Sunday Star Times (A New Zealand paper) is running a survey in conjunction with Marc Wilson (A senior philosophy lecturer at Victoria University) over the next week or two testing New Zealand’s beliefs in superstitions and the like.  An article in last weekend’s Sunday Star Times briefly covers the survey and includes a discussion by Vicki Hyde (chair of NZ Skeptics) about skepticism including her description of one NZ Skeptics conference:

“When the Sceptics Conference opened one year on a Friday 13th, we had a ladder parked over the entrance doorway and everyone came through under it. We also had a box of mirror glass to break, chain mail letters to ignore, salt to spill, umbrellas to open inside. It was the one conference where all the speakers ran to time.”

It is good to see NZ skeptics in the news making good points and also making the point that skepticism is not dry cynicism but actually is fun.

The survey itself is quite interesting and I look forward to the results which should be fascinating.  I hope they good a good response to it so we can make some useful inferences.  The link can be found in the article above or directly here

Having just done the survey I can say that it deals with superstitions, pseudoscience, lotteries, religion, a strange question about attitudes to different social groups, conspiracy theories, urban myths, alternative medicine, and a few other issues in quite a bit of detail.  I did find it quite hard to answer some of the questions due to the wording (which is typical of such surveys) but generally it wasn’t too bad for this sort of survey (I have seen way worse).  The temptation of winning a new blackberry was nice too – I need a new phone so fingers crossed… here’s hoping!

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8 responses

13 08 2008
Christiaan

Thanks for pointing out the survey Ian, I have completed it and look forward to the results. As I was progressing through it I was trying to figure out if in fact it was a ruse and the subject being studied was something slightly different (perhaps the goal of the paper is to obtain a profile of people who respond to on-line surveys!) as the sample selection is going to be skewed by selection bias. Unfortunately they did not have my star sign listed at the end – Ophiuchus, so I had to settle for Sagittarius.

13 08 2008
Damian

I’ve done it too and was disturbed that I had to answer “yes” as to whether I believed in “Witches” even though every other question on the page was phrased in a less ambiguous way that made me think that they’re going to think I have a soft spot for witches alone amongst the paranormal.

C’mon Blackberry! Come to daddy!

13 08 2008
Christiaan

I paused at that question as well, but decided that given the context that they were referring to witches who were actually capable of casting spells as opposed to Wicca (which I see as more a religion).

13 08 2008
Ian

I presumed it was genuine based on the Vic uni profile of the guy who’s doing it. Having said that anyone conducting an online survey probably couldn’t resist profiling the question of what kind of people answer these surveys. You’d probably have to compare it to NZ demographics to check bias anyway.

I agree that there are several definitional problems in the survey. For example a question that asks if I think witches exist has to be answered yes (they do). I think the purpose of the question was really to ask whether witches can do paranormal things? I tended to answer assuming the paranormal aspect as a general rule.

As for the Blackberry, I suppose you can have the other one 😉

13 08 2008
Damian

Awww, thanks Ian. THN WE CN TXT LOTS LOL.

22 08 2008
lurgee

It is good to see NZ skeptics in the news making good points and also making the point that skepticism is not dry cynicism but actually is fun.

You’re parties must rock, absolutely.

Teasing …..

24 08 2008
Ian

Oh they do, absolutely, are you fishing for an invite to the next one? 🙂

2 09 2008
Damian

Have they announced the winners yet? I’m concerned because I’ve been expecting an email telling me where to pick up my new Blackberry.

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