I appreciated your recent column (View, Joseph Bell, Sept. 4) on teaching journalism students critical-thinking. Those precepts can apply to the general public.
The surveys which you use as examples are presented to support the composer's point of view. If you give a qualified response, it will now show in the final tabulation. I find these slanted inquiries in my mail frequently with an accompanying letter which asks for as much money as I can give, presupposing that I am in accordance with a specific conclusion. These surveys end in the sack for recycled papers, so there is some very small tangible value to them.
We also give partisan groups misleading names. I refer specifically to the "pro-life" organizations. Their name means that if you do not actively support them, you are "anti-life." My wife and I recently returned from a group tour of France and Iberia. Together with 20 other individuals, we were thrown together in a bus for 19 days. One man with the voice of Stentor and politics to the right of Bob Dornan felt it appropriate to harangue us with his "pro-life" and other views daily. He was the type who makes one want to pretend that he is not a member of the group when it appears in public. When I questioned him on his views on death sentences for Richard Ramirez and Randy Kraft, he answered that he supported them. I pointed out that he should then identify himself as "anti - abortion" rather than "pro-life." The inconsistency was lost on him.