No need for scientific literacy – pollster version

What’s wrong with this graph? The fact that pollsters sometimes are unable to ask the most basic question about climate change in a way that makes sense scientifically.

Poll

Why? It’s uncontroversial, except among a small minority of climate skeptics, that recent climate change is caused partly by humans and partly by natural processes. Therefore, the scientifically correct response to this is to partially agree with both. But you have to choose. In other words, this is a question that is impossible to answer correctly. What the results mean, then, is really anybody’s guess.

It’s even worse, though. Even from basic logic, it should be clear that partially agreeing partially with one  side of a dichotomy like this implies agreeing partially with the other side of it.

The world is full of amateur pollsters who ask stupid, biased and misleading questions. This isn’t one of them, though, or shouldn’t be. This is TNS Gallup, the biggest market analysis company in Norway. The results are quoted in the media and used by political decision makers. Needless to say, the quality of this information leaves something to be desired.

(I have translated the texts in the graph from Norwegian to English.)

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