The Biased Survey

I am inundated with surveys and customer service inquires.

Over the holidays and much before, no matter the purchase or exchange I had, a survey awaited me on my computer asking whether I enjoyed my purchase or experience and to rate it. I didn’t have a chance to take something out of its box, and the company already wanted me to attribute a positive legacy to it.

Following a recent oil change, I was informed by the dealership’s representative that a survey would follow. Anything less than a perfect score would not bode well for them. Scratching my head, I wondered how a skewed survey could serve their consumer? What is the motivation for this misleading undertaking?

An in-depth survey designed as a study was sent my way courtesy of a utility company. They shared their future projects and presented their ideas, framing them so the consumer believed they had a say. Unfortunately, it was so tilted that it undermined objective outcomes to benefit both parties. Companies claim to value my time than subject me to a pitched survey that illustrates more bias than I have split ends.

Meaningful buttons are unavailable for all these surveys like ‘disagree,’ ‘don’t understand,’ or ‘fuck-off.’ Their words are slanted, making it difficult to provide valuable responses. Not dissimilar to a lawyer posing questions under examination in court where either way you answer, you’re incriminating yourself. I supplied what I knew was the only reply for the utility company and what they chose to sidestep. I referenced the Seven Generational Principle. Born out of Indigenous Society, it speaks to today’s decisions resulting in a sustainable planet for seven generations into the future. That was the most fitting reply to deliver to a utility company not plugged into the environment but focused on creating new streams of profit neatly tucked away behind shrouds of misguided perceptions. My suggestion infuses transparency into their undertaking, compelling them to view their future from an all-inclusive lens, not one confined to their bottom line. We live on this planet; it’s time we live within it. We’re doomed if a utility company doesn’t comprehend making that their guiding light.

Like Superman’s x-ray vision, women our age have a comparable superpower. It’s a bullshit detector that is naturally dialled in on high so that we can see through anything. It gets more powerful as we age, and its applications are innumerable. It’s also highly beneficial in this instance.

I find myself filling in the boxes below each question instead of ticking off the self-validating circles at the side. I don’t know who is drafting these things, but ego is enveloped around every character and syllable. There is a preferred outcome designed to fulfill that mandate. Recently, I was told I was wasting my time with these surveys. Without an alternative perspective, my response was that these companies would be free to believe their perceptions instead of being redirected or challenged to see the truth, allowing them to grow and expand positively.

I wondered what truly happens with the survey responses? Who’s reading them, and how exactly are they tabulated, if at all. Is the acquired information rifled through, or does it go into an abyss becoming buried in reams of data that no one looks at? Or is an algorithm created? Is some value assigned to the thousands of other anonymous customers? Are they pixels on a bar graph in some PowerPoint presentation that no one cares about, or does a company draw on it as leverage to support themselves on a press release? What it is, is not transparent. My age spots have more transparency.

Perception is based on one’s beliefs. With enough agreement around perceptions, you have a fabricated truth using language to weave this concept. Lawyers can be exceptionally skilled wordsmiths, crafting arguments that steer perceptions into false narratives—constructing a fear-infused perception while peppering and introducing cumulative strands of suspicion through a lens of perception. Surveys follow a similar path peppered with colliding ideas making them confusing. A master in manipulating language can steer the directive to a host of desired destinations. Some may even say propaganda, a word from a different era with a similar trail. The outcome is the same: falsehoods and fear are used as a weapon. In this case, as a plow to clear the way for more inaccuracies to be planted instead of choosing a study designed with principled protocols for data collection.

We already have fake news, fake reality tv and now mostly fake surveys. It’s hard to tell anymore what’s real. We shouldn’t be creating more fallacies and deception but cleaning them up. This twisted practice permits individuals/corporations to get rich by perpetuating illusions as legit content they then validate and leverage. Void of truth possessing only agreement. Get enough people, and you’ll have a consensus on anything void of facts like the insurrection of January 6, 2021.

Bias at its core is prejudice. I’ve found ‘information,’ ‘selection,’ and ‘confounding’ bias in all the surveys that have crossed my desk. Information bias can include misclassifications, which provide for missing data and how it’s addressed. Selection bias is who precisely will be studied by taking a condition or problem and having similar groups address the differences contingent on their exposure to a particular circumstance. And then there’s ‘confounding’ bias, which compromises internal validity having a systematic distortion built within it. There’s also the ‘experience’ bias where one takes the perception to be the objective truth. We can’t forget ‘similarity’ bias preferring what is similar to what is different. And there, we have only a small sampling of some of the biases. There are more biases than there are chin hairs.

In the same way, you can’t have light and dark operating simultaneously; neither can you work from perception and truth. They are incongruent. Language serves as our beacon in relaying these considerations. The solution is to step back and design a survey that allows the entire pendulum to be captured, whether that is what they want to hear or not; otherwise, what’s the point? The mechanism to achieve this is carefully chosen words, just like the ones they use now except not slanted. Surveys are another example of humanity failing miserably at employing our lowest common denominator instead of our highest.

There is a wealth of wisdom and truth that preexists us and will live long after us, and that is the frame of reference we need to employ in all that we do, including being reflected in our surveys. The Seventh Generation Principle puts Mother Earth first as that is her rightful place. That principle is applicable everywhere; its essence is ensconced in everything. It is compassion for Life and all that it holds. A survey that speaks to using and profiting from her resources and packaging it like it’s a favour to the consumer is not a survey. It’s embarrassing and speaks to how far removed those that drafted the study are from the spirit of consciously pursuing a transparent strategy. Clarity needs to be the first thing made available to the consumer in every survey. Not a deceptive agenda. There is nothing solid to take, plant, and grow without transparency and taking responsibility. It’s a foundation built on sand.

I recently had a negative experience with a large organization, which created a fiasco concerning my order. They were assigned full responsibility for all aspects of it and messed it up better than I could have imagined. They didn’t apologize, but they did send me dozens of surveys following each interaction to inquire how they were doing. The problem was there wasn’t a number low enough, a statement descriptive enough or a box big enough to alert them to how disastrous and time-consuming the exchange had been. That is the valuable nugget they needed to mine to address the flaw within their system. Instead, it was designed to hear how stellar they were, rendering the exercise misleading while bringing grief to their customer. The box they offered had limited characters, no different from a bank app or memo on a cheque. A complaint had to be carved down to ‘you failed’ or a brief précis without any explanation to assist them in addressing the issues so they could rectify and benefit from the problem. How’s that going to serve?

As a writer, I can see how absurd these surveys are and am entertained and feel somewhat obligated to reply in the language of transparency that is sorely lacking. It’s challenging since they are not designed to be receptacles of honestly but conduits for preferred observations that they can mine as disingenuous marketing nuggets.

As the surveys surface in my inbox, I will continue to ply through, bringing them the truth inoculation they deserve.

“Perception is a mirror, not a fact.”
A Course In Miracles


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