As much as I hate spam phone calls, I always make time to take surveys, no matter the subject. Since I have no aspirations to government or title, surveys are my secret path to power. You see, in order to be statistically significant, most surveys rely on getting about 1000 respondents. In a nation of 300,000,000 people, that means that the opinions of every respondent represent about 300,000 people. That’s about the size of the city of Pittsburgh, according to the 2010 census, or a bit less than half the size of Washington, DC. Somehow, I find it satisfying to commit that many people to my point of view on laundry detergent or the new fall TV season.
Sometimes, however, marketing people are more selective. There is a market research company here in Raleigh. I am in their database, and sometimes they will call me because I “qualify” for one of their studies. By “qualify”, they basically mean demographically, as in “Hey, we need to represent 300,000 males over the age of 50. Let’s get John, he’ll be surveyed on anything!”
So I got a call from them last night asking if I would be available to take a survey. This one was something medical in nature (they won’t tell you ahead of time, but sometimes you can tell from the questions). And sometimes you can tell what answers will get you automatically excluded, like “I don’t use nail polish” or “I get all my news from reading my neighbor’s mind.” But you can never be sure, so I just try to answer the questions honestly and hope for the best. Continue reading