Friday, 24 August 2012

Asking the Question

So, here's a question;
Do you agree Scotland should be an independent country?
and here's a statement;
Scotland should become an independent state

Interestingly, the statement was written by a panel of 'experts' who were asked to come up with a question.  I'm not quite sure what it is that qualifies someone to be an expert on writing referendum questions but these three men (strange that no female expert could be found) locked themselves away in an ivory tower to create a fair and balanced question and created a statement that is not fair and not balanced.  The bias, strangely, is in favour of a yes vote which, given the position of the commissioners of this endeavour, seems a bit of a boo-boo.

You see, to be faced with a ballot paper that asks the question and seeks an answer invites you to give the answer you actually believe in while the declarative sentence insists that Scotland should become an independent state and then asks you to agree or disagree is a powerful persuasive message in favour of agreement.  It seeks conformity because saying "I do not agree" with your statement is more aggressive than saying "no" to a question that's been asked; it's a form of authority pressure where the authority is saying 'this is right' and asking whether you agree.  Two of the three men on this panel are or were academics, surely they could have sought the advice of a psychologist?  Such a psychologist might have pointed them in the direction of Milgram or even Asch to help explain how societal pressures affect choices.

If winning the referendum was the only thing that mattered, I'd say we should grab the opportunity offered by this question, slap it on the ballot paper and take this advantage to add to the other advantages we've got.  Winning isn't the only thing, though, if we want to build a nation on a sound foundation it must be done on the basis of an informed decision which the Scottish people have taken with clear mind and without undue pressure rather than on artifice and deceit.

The question which is a question should be used and not the statement masquerading as a question which would send people unfairly in one direction.


commentor said...

Tee hee - well played.

Barontorc said...

Very well put Calum.

I'm immediately irked at being thought of as living in a "state" however, unless it's a "statement" declaring just how much of a pigs-breakfast this UK deal has made of Scotland and we, "statesmen", let them do it so much and for so long!

Barontorc said...

Calum - not wishing to torture your brain trying to work out what I've posted above, - let me re-do it with hopefully a tad more sense to it:-

"I'm immediately irked at being thought of as living in a "state", however, if it's a "statement", then let us intend it to declare just how much of a pigs-breakfast this UK deal has made of Scotland.

Not forgetting that we, "statesmen" of Scotland, let them do so much harm for so long!"

Sorry, if it sort of loses impact when it needs to be re-done - an edit facility would be nice for dumbos!