Crash the Poll: Do You Support Obama’s Opening Prayers?

U.S. News & World Report is running this poll on their site (in the sidebar):

President Obama is opening many of his public events with prayers from local community leaders. Do you support this new White House tradition?

So far, the results don’t look right…:

chart

Can we fix this?

  • Brooks

    I don’t support the prayers because it violates the separation of church and state and it turns the event into a test of religion, even though the constitution says no politician should be submitted to a test of religion. The prayers pretend to be inclusive of others but they’ll always be exclusive to some people who don’t believe in God or those people who believe in God but don’t believe in prayer. How many Christians do you think would accept it if an atheist president led a speech before political events about how we should always trust in reason and how we need reason instead of faith to guide us? It also causes far too many problems than necessary, like that whole Rick Warren fiasco which could have been avoided if people weren’t so obsessed with Jesus that they have to turn everything into a religious ceremony. Besides, didn’t Jesus say that Christians weren’t supposed to be like the hypocritical Pharisees who pray in public to be seen by others and that Christians are supposed to pray in private?

  • Patrick

    34.47% now.

    We’re working on it, methinks.

    Oh, and while we’re on this topic…

    Sweet zombie Jesus, those prayers bother me.

  • Hank Bones

    34.32%

    We’re backsliding a bit.

    I posted it on a thread at Pharyngula. We’ll see if that helps a bit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1356236233 JakeL

    up to 36.64% no, now.

  • Mriana

    I voted “No”, but I don’t know how much it helped. I don’t support it because it does cross the line of separation of Church and State.

  • David D.G.

    Hemant, do I detect a little bit of PZ envy?

    ;^D

    Duly voted. Thanks for the tip.

    ~David D.G.

  • Todd

    47.8. We’re getting there.

  • http://blaghag.blogspot.com/ Jennifurret

    Oh, not you too now. I always thought PZ’s poll crashing was a tad bit infantile.

    Though “PZ envy” sounds waaaay too close to “penis envy.” In fact, it’s perfect. I will now use the term PZ envy to refer to the jealously expressed by an atheist who’s not quite as famous or controversial ;P

  • Shane

    “PZ envy”. :-)

    Who has the biggest cyber pistol?

  • http://addicted2reason.blogspot.com Eddy Miller

    At 52.98% right now. Good job everyone!

  • David

    Jennifurret,

    I think letting us know about these polls is a worthwhile thing.

    How many atheists are going to spend much time in the section of the paper dealing with religion and its relationship to politics?

    If the answer is not as high a percentage as that of theists, then those polls are slanted towards theism just from placement.

    Maybe you and I don’t think much of polls, but many politicians use them to make marketing and even voting decisions, so it behooves us to make our lack of belief and our secular views known.

    Now that the seriousness has been addressed- also, it’s fun!

  • http://jewmanist.com Rose

    1. 42.16% Yes
    2. 57.84% No

    Way to go poll-crashers! Thanks, Hemant, for the chance to vote…I would never have found this otherwise. :)

  • Hank Bones

    We’ve got it up to 59.8!

  • Noodleguy

    39.46% Yes
    60.54% No

    Woo, nice! Just about reversed it from before. This looks much more correct…;)

    PZ envy…hmmm…yeah. Not sure how I feel ’bout that.

  • Jonas

    Will vote — thanks for the tip.

    I don’t support the idea. Not only does it mix Church and State, and single out preferred religions it risks invoking selective morals/ethics depending on who he invites.

    — That is like when visiting Rick Warren Gays are evil, but when visiting Gene Robinson Gays are good. This sends a mixed message, and treads where state should not go. (Dictating morals within religions, not civil rights toward citizens)

  • Jello Biafra

    Yes we can!

  • Ryan

    It’s swung to 67.88. Good job, guys.

  • NeuroLover

    Up to 69.91 % no, now! :)

  • Eliza

    Now: 72.8% no

  • Isaac

    I have thought about it a bit and I do not thing that President Obama having prayer before an event is a cross over the line between Church and State. It may demonstrate the President’s personal position regarding religion, however, that does not infer that he is allowing those convictions to govern the way in which he handles the issues associated with his job. The president can use “prayer” as an effective way to remind the populace that he is looking for wisdom in decisions, wishes the best for everyone, and hopes that individuals as well as the nation prospers. He is not, incidentally, forcing religion on anyone individually, neither is he using his faith as a catalyst for policies. a pro-choice platform is evidence of this. right, wrong, or otherwise, most religions (not necessarily the religious, there is a difference), frown on such policies. Therefore, I do not see Obama’s praying as so much a “prayer” as invoking the help or blessing of a “higher power,” but rather something more along the lines of an audible contemplation of self and well-wishing on others. So I say let him pray if he is so inclined. If anything he is doing it with a positive intention and almost certainly without aim to use it to “guide” his decision making.

    I wish everyone the best and hope all of you enjoy your weekend =D

  • http://silentalias.wordpress.com/ silentalias

    1. 24.9% Yes
    2. 75.1% No

    I’d call this crashed!

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    skewed.
    :-)

  • http://atheistlibrarian.blogspot.com Adam

    A little over 78% now. Either you have as much clout as P.Z., both groups are working on it, or there just weren’t that many votes to begin with. Well done.

  • roundishbed

    1. 21.37% Yes
    2. 78.63% No

    another win!

  • DerekK

    80.24%

  • http://blog.myspace.com/johnpritzlaff John Pritzlaff

    The poll’s gone now; did it end or did they take it down because of us?

  • ERinSTL

    It’s still there. I had a hard time finding it at first, too. About 1/3 of the way down in the right column. Green banner: “PUBLIC POLL” See it?

    “No” is at 81.22% now.

  • http://www.randi.org Cedric Katesby

    It always makes me feel good to crash one of these stupid things.
    Thanks for the head up.
    Looks like the good guys (and gals) win again.
    :)

  • Sandra

    The poll is still there, it’s kind of small(ish) and to the right of the screen.

    1. 18.22% Yes
    2. 81.78% No
    I enjoy a good poll bash – er I mean crashing. :D

  • http://www.CoreyMondello.com Corey Mondello

    Damn…I must of missed it :(

    Page Not Found!
    http://www.usnews.com/polls/results.html cannot be found!
    Please make sure to update any bookmarks and check that you didn’t make a typo in the address.

  • Kurt

    Corey, they must have been down for maintenance or something. It’s still there now (and up to 87.48% for No)!

  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    Obama has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t particularly care what polls say. Oh well.

  • Brian

    I am afraid the President is doing this solely for political reasons. Remember, he is a savvy politician

  • Anonymous

    Oh, not you too now. I always thought PZ’s poll crashing was a tad bit infantile.

    I don’t participate in this sort of dishonesty myself. Artificially inflating the perception of how many people agree with you is just anathema to me. Let the poll reflect the reality of American opinion, and quit trying to “pad the resume” in pursuit of some bullshit political agenda. Accept your real size and adapt accordingly, instead of creating optical illusions so that other people think that you’re bigger than you really are.

    Most people are only interested in pushing their personal agendas. Of course, someone as smart as Obama recognizes this, and thus likely puts everything he hears from multitudes of clamoring push groups into the “junk mail” pile headed for the trashbin, leaving the real mail (like the economy) on his desk to deal with.

    For my part, I’m much more interested in determining what’s true than adding more bullshit to the mountain of BS we already have to sift through on a daily basis.

  • Siamang

    Let the poll reflect the reality of American opinion,

    Oh, you seem to think that the non-statistical sampling of voluntary internet “click here if you agree” polls reflect the reality of the broader American opinion.

    Interesting.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, you seem to think that the non-statistical sampling of voluntary internet “click here if you agree” polls reflect the reality of the broader American opinion.

    The poll is unscientific, to be sure, but the game of trying to vote multiple times, and/or soliciting as many people as possible to vote your way (perhaps themselves voting multiple times) is certainly a dishonest game. Do you deny that atheists answering the call to crash the poll are not trying to rally as many atheists as possible to vote a certain way, and hoping as few Christians as possible vote the other way? Gimme a break…

    Clearly, the game is trying to distort perceptions–else you wouldn’t be playing it. Just like when atheists pretend that those who answer “None of the Above” on scientific polls are also atheists, in order to pad their numbers tenfold–even when the polls themselves directly show otherwise. Subtle lying is still lying–but the end justifies the means when you have an agenda to push, right?

    You’re right that people shouldn’t rely on Internet polls as accurate, but obviously some people do, or else there’d be no point in taking Internet polls and participating in them.

    Whether Internet polls are accurate is a red herring, of course. No one says they are. The issue is that people are being urged to influence the poll results. What ever could be the reason why?

  • Siamang

    Clearly, the game is trying to distort perceptions–else you wouldn’t be playing it.

    I think the “game” is to prove that these polls are pointless.

    Which is exactly the point that got shown in this instance, where the news organization was forced to admit that this poll was giving an answer so out of whack from reality.

    Frankly that a supposed news organization would even RUN a poll that was this unscientific reflects extremely poorly on their organization and what they consider newsworthy and what they put their reputation beside.

    It’s an easy, stupid big of Java code that masquerades as interactivity for a news website. That it emulates an opinion poll, and that you seem to think that an UN-borked poll reflects in some fashion “the reality of American opinion” IS *exactly* the problem.

    Whether Internet polls are accurate is a red herring, of course. No one says they are.

    Then why do people participate in them? Why do you care?

    I think that some people DO think they are. I think some people DO think that (even if not scientific) they still give something like a reliable answer, otherwise why would you object to us notifying people that they should vote on them?

    I think when a poll like this is heavily biased to begin with (self-selected among people who read the religion section of the website), we have a *responsibility* to show that it’s not a reliable way to gauge public opinion.

    We’re pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes. And the ONLY way to do that is to participate in the poll. Which worked, btw, and US News was forced to admit it.

  • Anonymous

    I think the “game” is to prove that these polls are pointless.

    Fair enough.

    That it emulates an opinion poll, and that you seem to think that an UN-borked poll reflects in some fashion “the reality of American opinion” IS *exactly* the problem.

    The reality of American opinion is pretty obvious to me, as it must be to you, since you said that the poll results were “so out of whack from reality.” And “an UN-borked poll” would be closer to that reality for not having been encouraged to be “borked” in the first place. We know what the reality is from scientific polls in the past on similar topics, such as public opinion on removing public displays of religiosity or under God from the pledge. The overwhelming majority of Americans have no problem with those things, either because they’re religious themselves or, if secular, because they realize how trivial the issue is no matter which way it goes. I’m sorry, but “one nation under God” doesn’t equal theocracy unless you’re a vampire and hearing the word God causes you to recoil in pain or fear–which is a pretty pathetic but accurate characterization of some narrow-minded atheists if you ask me.

    Why do you care?

    I only expressed an opinion after seeing that I wasn’t the only one holding it. My comments were meant largely for the person I was responding to, whom I quoted. That you have to tolerate voices of dissent from your own view is the price of living in a free country. I have the freedom to think differently than you do, and express that disagreement, whether you like it or not.

    I think when a poll like this is heavily biased to begin with

    So the solution is to make it even more discordant with reality, by changing whose bias it reflects?

    self-selected among people who read the religion section of the website

    You have a point there.

    We’re pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes. And the ONLY way to do that is to participate in the poll. Which worked, btw, and US News was forced to admit it.

    That may very well be the case. But then that should be made clear at the outset.

    Otherwise people might get the impression that the purpose of crashing the party was to influence the perception of how many people are opposed to inaugural prayers, and not the true purpose of crashing the party: to show that unscientific polls are worthless.

    It’s odd, though, that if the true purpose of crashing the party is simply to show that unscientific polls are worthless, atheists only urge other atheists to crash them when their topic concerns atheism, religion, or sep. of church & state. One might anticipate that scientific poll advocates would be interested in crashing all unscientific polls and not just ones that concern issues where atheists have strong opinions related to their atheism.

    Curious, to say the least.

  • Siamang

    So the solution is to make it even more discordant with reality, by changing whose bias it reflects?

    Sorry, but I think showing that it’s a flawed poll makes it MORE concordant with reality.

    That may very well be the case. But then that should be made clear at the outset.

    This post isn’t the outset. I’ll admit if you’re just joining in the conversation right now, the intentions might not be clear.

    But there’s currently a kind of a fad on atheist blogs that PZ Myers has going right now where there’s some poll-crashing. If you’re following this, it has been made clear in the past that this is indeed what we’re doing. Even commenters on the US News poll story covering this have stated this outright, saying “expect unscientific polls to have unscientific results.” So I think that’s pretty clear.

    One might anticipate that scientific poll advocates would be interested in crashing all unscientific polls and not just ones that concern issues where atheists have strong opinions related to their atheism.

    Well, if you want, you go create a “scientific poll advocate” website, and urge all of your readers to do this.

    This is an atheist website, and for the most part, the posts are on-topic to atheism related issues.

    Curious, to say the least.

    What’s curious about it? We care about what we care about, and part of that is to create a conversation. We took lemons and made lemonade, and now there’s a conversation about the validity of self-selecting internet polls on the US News website.

    It’s about engaging the conversation, which is what this website is all about.

  • Siamang

    BTW, anonymous, welcome here and make yourself at home. Introduce yourself and choose a moniker.

    This conversation only gets better by people making themselves a positive model for others. Improve this conversation by the addition of your own example.

    We accept all types of folks from all varieties of belief. Tell us about yourself! Where are you in this journey, and what have you to add to the dialog here?

    Welcome!

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