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Surveys never lie, but liars always survey

The Associated Press and CNBC jointly released a new poll about American attitudes toward marijuana under the headline “Legalization: More Americans Say ‘No'”. Now, reading this, you might think that the majority of Americans are against legalizing marijuana, but this is a textbook example of how you can skew survey results by cunning choice of survey questions.

The question in question?

Do you favor, oppose or neither favor nor oppose the complete legalization of the use of marijuana for any purpose?

But in their special report, they don’t mention that when asked about marijuana and alcohol, 56% of the people questioned wanted marijuana to be treated the same as alcohol or wanted marijuana to be more legal than alcohol. But to see that result, you have to read the full report on the survey.

So, duh! Americans don’t want weed to be absolutely completely legal for any reason, the same as what we currently have for alcohol, tobacco, or other mostly legal drugs. After all, marijuana is widely considered to be less harmful than either alcohol or tobacco.

The real question is, why did AP and CNBC word the first question the way they did, and why did they (and the rest of the media) report it the way they did?



  1. Sammy wrote:

    It would be like a poll question asking, “Do you think killing another person should be illegal under every possible circumstance, in every case?” and then wording the headline as: “Americans believe murder is okay.”

    Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Permalink
  2. ebdoug wrote:

    marijuana should have the same restrictions as cigarettes, no more, no less. I am confined to my house and surounding acres due to the added ingrediants in cigarettes that cause me to immediately go into an asthma attack. When I was working OB at Alta Bates in the 1960s, a survey was done that showed marijuana was not harmful to the fetus. But we know that cigarettes are poisonous to the fetus. We have legal cigarettes and illegal marijuana. No hypocrisy there, thanks to the Southern Red states that depend on the poison.

    Sunday, April 25, 2010 at 8:24 am | Permalink