Posted by: Craig Woolheater on October 30th, 2006
Christopher D. Bader, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Baylor University, was one of the principal investigators of the study that is being discussed here on Cryptomundo.
After reading the post on Cryptomundo and the comments from readers, Chris had this to say:
There seems to be an assumption in the comments that the survey was either
a.) somehow (it is never exactly specified) biased since it is from Baylor and
b.) probably administered to a bunch of other Southern Baptists.
The survey was administered to a random, national sample of U.S. citizens. In other words, any one in the U.S. had an equal chance of being selected. Our respondents are from all regions of the country, all races, all levels of education, all religions (or not religious) and so on. Gallup, in fact, administered the survey.
As for bias – some of the commenters are correct- you can mold or shape survey questions if you are not careful. Polls conducted by lobbyists, etc are notorious for this. They will only administer a poll to certain types of people, limit potential responses, find clever reasons to remove cases and so on. We spent a lot of time (and consulted many survey experts) to attempt to remove obvious sources of bias. And will continue to do so in the future. As social scientists we want to find out what Americans believe – not what we hope or think they believe. The argument that because polls can be twisted all polls are useless is specious.
Reminds me of the argument that since it is possible to hoax Bigfoot sightings, all Bigfoot sightings must be hoaxes.
No one on the Baylor Religion Survey team is Southern Baptist by the way.
We are used to getting heat about the survey – getting criticized by others about our work is what academics do for a living. Not offended in any way and find thoughtful debate fun. So feel free to post or not post my response if you think it will be interesting to your readers.
Love the site!
Christopher D. Bader
Department of Sociology
One Bear Place #97326
Waco, TX 76798-7326