Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Surveys of Opinion. How Reliable are They?
Following a comment from Patricius on my last posting, I decided to track down some more information about the apparent dissension of some Catholics from key Catholic moral teachings. Here is the information regarding the recent survey of Catholic opinion and a comparison with the 1978 survey by Michael Hornsby-Smith. I would suggest that it is too easy to dismiss such polls as entirely unreliable because of the limited number of people questioned. Such surveys (this was done by YouGov) are done professionally with a view to providing a genuine snapshot of opinion. Allowing for discrepancies and some obvious and unavoidable inaccuracy, we still have a fairly reliable, even if limited, view of Catholic opinion. After all, surveys regarding political opinion are often correct - sometimes startlingly so. Cases of complete or serious inaccuracy are actually rare today given the professionalism with which such surveys are taken. Having said all that, I hope the conclusions drawn from the survey are wrong, I hope I am wrong, and I hope most Catholics do accept teaching on these issues. Experience however, and information received from other sources, suggests that the conclusions are basically correct.