Pharyngula

Oh, all right…..

CNN has a poll in need of Pharyngulisation:

“Do you believe God’s intervention could save a family member even if doctors say treatment would be futile?”

Naturally, ‘God’ is an assumed reality in this scenario. Go crash that bastard.

~Danio

Comments

  1. #1 Brian English
    August 19, 2008

    Do you think Pakistan will be better off without Musharraf at the helm? The only pole I found at the site was about Musharraf. Maybe he’s God?

  2. #2 Rey Fox
    August 19, 2008

    Well, then it ain’t worded right, isn’t it? Of course God’s intervention COULD heal. IF he existed. Feh.

  3. #3 Will K.
    August 19, 2008

    This is not a scientific poll

    Thanks for the heads up, CNN!

  4. #4 LisaJ
    August 19, 2008

    Holy shit, I can’t believe it’s 60% yes. Now that’s disturbing.

  5. #5 John S. Wilkins
    August 19, 2008

    Clearly “God” means the ranking surgeon. All surgeons think they are God.

  6. #6 Lucas Cantor
    August 19, 2008

    Ha! – “This is not a scientific poll” – You don’t say.

    Anyway, this is the article that the poll is about: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/08/18/god.vs.doctors.ap/index.html

  7. #7 Geral
    August 19, 2008

    The topic is dominant in MSNBC too. It’s actually disturbing.

  8. #8 Dave X
    August 19, 2008

    The associated story is interesting: http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/08/18/god.vs.doctors.ap/index.html
    is about the problem of beliefe in intervention from the doctor’s perspective.

    But the headline and poll writers are insane.

  9. #9 Bad Albert
    August 19, 2008

    59% Yes
    41% No

    What kind of people read CNN.com anyway?

  10. #10 Susan
    August 19, 2008

    The Mobile Poll Results are a lot better:

    49% Yes
    51% No

    SO far. This is fun! I feel as if I live in Chicago, in the old days.

  11. #11 Jonathan Rothwell
    August 19, 2008

    I like that word, “Pharyngulise”, as in “to Pharyngulise a poll”. Perhaps it could become a regular feature?

    Still 59/41 at time of writing.

  12. #12 Nomad
    August 19, 2008

    In my mind I’m rewriting the poll so that it says what it really means. “Do you think that it’s possible for doctors to be wrong about something?”.

  13. #13 BobC
    August 19, 2008

    There’s almost 7 billion human apes on this insignificant planet, and according to millions of Christian retards, a sky fairy is so interested in each ape that it sometimes decides to magically cure their disease. It lets most of the apes drop dead, but not to worry, the dead apes magically fly up to heaven.

    It’s for a good reason this country is called Idiot America.

  14. #14 Dave X
    August 19, 2008

    I wonder what the results would be for something like: “Do you believe God would intervene to save someone if doctors say treatment would be futile?”

    If you take out the personal family member and make it more of a criticism of the doctor’s judgement, you might get down to that 20% irreducible perplexity of our population.

  15. #15 darwin's witness
    August 19, 2008

    I’m glad you caught this absurd poll… I saw it (please forgive me for checking cnn in the first place – hahaha) and came straight here to suggest it be “Pharyngulised”…

    But, beacon of reason that you are, you’d already seen it…

    Still 59/41. Yikes…

  16. #16 pal.sch
    August 19, 2008

    If you are getting the wrong poll, you need to go to the US edition, here.

    International edition asks about Musharraf and shows 55% thinking Pakistan won’t be better off without him…

  17. #17 Prof. Bleen
    August 19, 2008

    Alas, CNN will have too large a readership for effective Pharyngulation (with a capital P, to distinguish it from the ordinary kind). Still 59/41 as of 1:01 AM EDT (05:01 GMT).

  18. #18 Susan
    August 19, 2008

    You CAN affect the Mobile Poll Results though. Now it’s:

    Yes 37%
    No 63%

    I’ve been “watching” it get better and better, and it didn’t take long at all. Folks who own iPhones must just be a brighter bunch!
    :-)

  19. #19 aratina
    August 19, 2008

    15,573 idiots and counting… :(

  20. #20 Doug Alder
    August 19, 2008

    Do you believe God’s intervention could save a family member even if doctors say treatment would be futile?
    Yes 59% 15816
    No 41% 11183
    Total Votes: 26999

    at 10:178 GMT -8

  21. #21 Tom
    August 19, 2008

    We’re not catching them – they are voting ‘yes’ at a rate of about 54% since I started looking, so it’s coming down a little but not fast enough. Idiots.

  22. #22 Bastian
    August 19, 2008

    In my mind, I’m adding some follow-up questions:

    2: Has anyone in your family ever died, even though God could have intervened?

    3: Have you forgiven God for this yet, or do you still think He’s a rat bastard?

  23. #23 Spinoza
    August 19, 2008

    Ya know… the original article that that poll links to has a dumb-as-shit title… but it’s actually not a bad article… the points made in it are interesting…

  24. #24 benjdm
    August 19, 2008

    Holy shit, I can’t believe it’s 60% yes. Now that’s disturbing.

    But yes is as defensible an answer as no. It all depends if you take the question as assuming the reality of a God in the first place. Similar to:

    “Do you believe Superman could stop a bullet that was about to hit a family member even if the bullet was armor-piercing?”

    Both of the polls are equally ‘wha?’ inducing. It’s a loaded question.

  25. #25 jp
    August 19, 2008

    you’re kidding right? crashing a poll just because you’re angry at the way it’s worded? gimme a break. you guys are about as lame as the ron paul morons who were stuffing political polls. seriously, do the babies need a diaper change? grow up already…

  26. #26 Shap Deez
    August 19, 2008

    Do you think that God could intervene with the results of this poll and wrest it from the control of the Pharyngulites?

    Could God create a poll so lame, that even He couldn’t stand to answer it??

  27. #27 Sigmund
    August 19, 2008

    Those of us outside the US get a different version of CNN – aimed at grown-ups. This is true for both the online and the cable versions of this channel. Watching CNN in Europe I got the impression that its a somewhat right-wing media outlet that provides pro-US sided news coverage. I was surprised when I went to the US and watched the version that’s available in that market by just how different it is there. The US CNN is much more right wing and insular than the international version and far more down-market (international CNN is to US CNN like US CNN is to Faux News).
    Likewise the poll on the international verion – “Do you think Pakistan will be better off without Musharraf at the helm?” – is clearly aimed at readers who might have some clue what the words ‘Musharraf’ and ‘Pakistan’ mean.
    There is some hope, however. Just the other day there was a political piece about Obama and McCain entitled something like ‘Politicians target values voters’ which prompted large numbers of people to write in to complain about associating ‘values’ with the christian right, as if they were the only ones who had morals.

  28. #28 MIke
    August 19, 2008

    And another poll from MSNBC that needs some help.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10103521/

  29. #29 Mike
    August 19, 2008

    Whopps, I see that one has already had some help but needs some more it’s at 40%/60% and needs to tip over the other way. I’ve been out of internet contact for 3 weeks and am trying to catch up.

  30. #30 rainbow_platypus
    August 19, 2008

    it seems to me that the pharyngulian poll popping machine has become less effective as of late. There is only one explanation for this…The Zombie Christ has risen himself again to lead his sheep in battle. From poll to poll they shall fight the heathen atheists, championing the values of bronze age barbarism because they are shinny and bronze like.

  31. #31 Ruth Ellen
    August 19, 2008

    Looks like someone’s crashing our poll-crashing.

  32. #32 Sebby
    August 19, 2008

    Jp,
    Wow, sounds like someone is a little cranky. :)
    But seriously, crashing a poll is a commonplace Net tactic both sides — fundies and non fundies and, more commonly, political parties — employ. This is just leveling the playing field.
    And, honestly, the wording is more than suspect. Remind me again, is there a news story on CNN’s site has anything to do with the question? I didn’t see one .. though I’m someone will try to dredge one up. Speaking as a journalist, this kind of thing is an irritating example of CNN’s subtle (and sometimes not too subtle ) biases — I mean, a little bias is normal but this is ridonkculous. CNN is obviously promoting religion over nonreligious views by putting it up because they already know what the results, given America’s uber-christian bent, will be. Moreover, it’s hardly the first time they’ve pulled something like this.

  33. #33 Peter Vesuwalla
    August 19, 2008

    It’s a little like having a poll over whether you believe unicorns have horns.

  34. #34 Triphesas
    August 19, 2008

    So what’s the word for what we do to those polls? Personally, I liked “Pharyngulate”,but now there’s also “Pharyngulise”.

    :)

    Voted, and the current results are:
    Yes 57%
    No 43%

    We’re down exactly 5000 votes. :(

  35. #35 Beelzebub
    August 19, 2008

    I have to agree with jp. Crashing polls is self defeating, as I would personally like to have accurate data regarding just how stupid my fellow countrymen are, no matter how dumb or poorly designed it is. Are you really going to sleep better if you manage to raise the “No” result to 60%, knowing full well it’s really 40?

  36. #36 Timothy
    August 19, 2008

    Unbelievable! But better than I probably should have expected from the viewers of the Conservative News Network.

  37. #37 SC
    August 19, 2008

    Beelzebub,

    Why don’t you read the associated story, then? It reports on a survey of a random sample (I don’t know about its quality otherwise). Internet polls are garbage.

  38. #38 Beelzebub
    August 19, 2008

    Forget it. I have dialup. There’s no way I’m going to inflict CNN on myself. Whatd it say? Never mind, I already know how stupid my fellow countrymen are.

  39. #39 bastion
    August 19, 2008

    If god didn’t want your loved one to die, god wouldn’t have made that person terminally ill to begin with.

    Do you think god is like a politician, changing his position on life and death matters if enough folks clamor for change?

  40. #40 SC
    August 19, 2008

    It’s an AP story. You can find it at any number of places – just google the relevant terms. Here it is at Salon:

    http://www.salon.com/wires/ap/scitech/2008/08/18/D92KTE2G0_med_god_vs_doctors/index.html

    The take-home:

    More than half of randomly surveyed adults — 57 percent — said God’s intervention could save a family member even if physicians declared treatment would be futile. And nearly three-quarters said patients have a right to demand such treatment.

    When asked to imagine their own relatives being gravely ill or injured, nearly 20 percent of doctors and other medical workers said God could reverse a hopeless outcome.

    Again, I know nothing about the quality of the survey, the results of which appeared in the Archives of Surgery:

    http://archsurg.ama-assn.org/

  41. #41 Rrr
    August 19, 2008

    SC said: It’s an AP story. You can find it at any number of places – just google the relevant terms.

    An APE story, but of FOX! I should’ve CNN it at once. Does that make me an NBC-ile?

    Sorry, just coulternt resist yankeen your cable a bit.

  42. #42 Fez
    August 19, 2008

    Since the poll is written such that it presupposes the existence of a god and the colloquial definition of “god” generally includes omnipotence the only correct answer is, of course, yes.

    So do yourself a favor and vote yes. Vote yourself lower health care costs, a shorter wait time for medical services, and a mass Darwin award for those who don’t want to get that suspicious lump treated.

  43. #43 Nomad
    August 19, 2008

    Wait a minute..

    More than half of randomly surveyed adults — 57 percent — said God’s intervention could save a family member even if physicians declared treatment would be futile. And nearly three-quarters said patients have a right to demand such treatment.

    What does this mean? Does it mean three quarters of the respondents said that patients have a right to demand that God heal their incurable illness?

    I assume it’s supposed to mean a right to pointless medical treatment. Which is a whole issue unto itself. And seemingly off topic from whether the big guy in the sky could heal your grave illness even if doctors can’t.

    Woah, I just realized what the question should have been. It just came to me. Forget illness. It should have been “do you believe that God can heal amputees?”. Or even better, do a REAL poll, not a pointless Internet thing (those of you dissing poll crashing, you have to understand that these polls are done to make people feel involved, not to actually gain any insight, the numbers mean nothing), and sometimes ask if God would heal someone suffering from an incurable illness, and ask the others the amputee question.

    I’d like to see what would come of that.

  44. #44 negentropyeater
    August 19, 2008

    #11, #34,
    We should do a poll to check which one people prefer :

    1. to pharyngulise, a pharyngulisation

    2. to pharyngulate, a pharyngulation

    3. both

  45. #45 Jonathan Rothwell
    August 19, 2008

    From the comments section, by one “Katie”:

    Scripture has numerous examples of people who have been ill/seriously injured and have been healed.

    This is the same scripture that says the Earth stopped spinning for twenty-four hours, the Sun moved itself, and a woman was made out of a man’s ribcage.

    I’m sure she’ll understand why some people are a little bit sceptical.

  46. #46 izb
    August 19, 2008

    I know it’s not a scientific poll, just for fun or whatever, but…

    Doesn’t crashing polls like this make atheists seem like immoral assholes?

    Just sayin’..

  47. #47 David Utidjian
    August 19, 2008

    Hmmm…

    Pharyngulosity?

    Pharynguliscious?

    Perhaps we could rate some of these polls. I think this one had a pharyngulisciousness of -4.2.

    -DU-

  48. #48 melatonin
    August 19, 2008

    Would be interesting to know how those voting ‘yes’ envisage this divine intervention – just from an academic POV. Boyer’s book reports studies (Barrett’s, I think) where the god-squad tend to see their magic-man acting through minds rather than physics/nature.

  49. #49 El Herring
    August 19, 2008

    “Do you believe God’s intervention could save a family member even if doctors say treatment would be futile?”

    Well if we assume

    1) the poll refers to the Xian god (it doesn’t say)
    2) this god actually exists (still unproven)
    3) this god has the power to heal a mortal illness or injury (also unproven)
    4) this god has the inclination to do so (no evidence there either)

    then it could happen, I suppose. But there are jut too many presumptions.

    You could plug anything in and get exactly the same chance of success. Fill in the blanks: “Do you believe the intervention of _____ could save a _____ from _____ even if _____ say _____ would be _____”

    The answer would always be “Possibly… if _____ and _____ etc. are presumed to be true / to exist.”

    Pointless.

  50. #50 Greg Laden
    August 19, 2008

    Alas! The mighty power of Pharyngula has met its match. Barely a scratch is made on the poll. I wonder if something went wrong in the Galapagos?

  51. #51 negentropyeater
    August 19, 2008

    #46,

    Doesn’t crashing polls like this make atheists seem like immoral assholes?

    Only if you consider that these polls are somehow valuable and should be taken seriously, that they are somehow representative of people’s opinons, that people answering them are a representative sample of the population.

    If you don’t, which seems to be the only rational thing to do, and only see them for what they are, something of no importance and actually quite funny, what’s wrong with crashing them ?

  52. #52 Rob
    August 19, 2008

    @izb:

    If you vote once, what is immoral about it? The web is meant for links.

  53. #53 negentropyeater
    August 19, 2008

    izb #46,

    guess why PZ calls them “pointless polls” ?

    Don’t you think that it’s actually quite ridiculous, that so many websites and media outlets, put these online polls, to somehow get an idea of what people’s opinions are, without anybody asking themselves if the very methodology is not completely and utterly flawed ?

  54. #54 Don
    August 19, 2008

    Sure God can save your loved one, he just requires the right amount of grovelling and pleading. Of course he won’t tell you how much, so if you grovel for 24 hours straight and the number he had in mind was 25, he’ll snuff ‘em anyway and it will be your fault.

  55. #55 gex
    August 19, 2008

    Seriously, this is a network that aired the Bigfoot news conference. I was already convinced the MSM wasn’t really news, but this should have convinced *everyone* not to take them seriously.

  56. #56 mk
    August 19, 2008

    Looks as if some Xtians are crashing this poll more thoroughly the we? Ugh.

  57. #57 SteveM
    August 19, 2008

    I think what they are trying to ask is:

    “Should doctors be required to continue treatment even though they believe it to be futile?”

  58. #58 Doug Alder
    August 19, 2008

    The polling software may not be protecting against multiple votes from the same IP. I voted last night and now 8 hours later when I tested it, it allowed me to vote again with no error message and my IP address never changes. Now it may be that it simply doesn’t count the vote but their software should either inform the user that they have already voted or should just display the results with no option to vote. If they are simply ignoring the vote then this is stupid from a server resource perspective as it eats up resources instead of preserving them. Get enough people who have already voted to sit there trying to vote over and over again and you could improvise a DDoS attack by tying up server resources

  59. #59 SteveM
    August 19, 2008

    I highly recommend reading Orac’s take on this.

  60. #60 Mr_P
    August 19, 2008

    Funny, My wife (believer, but I am working on getting her to at least agnostic) and I (atheist) were just discussing this last night (right after the jehovah’s witless.. er um witnesses left without answering any of my questions). She is a nurse in the cardiac ICU and has seen her fair share of patients die.. We live in the bible belt and she often has patients families come in and do the prayer thing. The bottom line is that the patients who beat the odds with over the top prayer groups is about the same as patients who beat the odds with no prayer. Patients with 24 hour prayer vigils still die. What I dont understand is how is one breath some xtians argue that god has a plan for every one of us, but in the next breath think he will change that if you pray. I always want to ask them sarcastically ‘how big is your ego?’
    This also reminds rem of the Terry Schiavo incident a few years back. her pearents were reported to be ‘devout’ xtians (catholics if I recall). They didnt want to pull the plug because god would take her when he was ready. Why would’t they belive that god tried 10 years earlier and they interfered with god’s will? If xtains truely belive that there heaven is a perfect place with no suffering, then why do they seem to be the ones who refuse to let go of the dying?

    Tim

  61. #61 June
    August 19, 2008

    The YES viewpoint obviously creates a terrible dilemma for believers, since God could have prevented the Holocaust, intervened on 9/11/01, avoided the 2004 tsunami, and given Bush II a brain.

  62. #62 GirBoBytons
    August 19, 2008

    Well I just voted and we are losing again…what happened guys we used to be so good at this??

  63. #63 SC
    August 19, 2008

    I second SteveM’s recommendation @ #59. There’s a lot more to the study than is being conveyed in the news reports (as usual).

  64. #64 Thuktun
    August 19, 2008

    @62

    I suggest that someone with an alternate agenda may be following this blog to counter any calls to vote with their own.

  65. #65 Dave Dufour
    August 19, 2008

    The fact that it’s not a scientific poll (obviously) makes it worthless. What I can’t understand is why news media are perpetually running these unscientific, worthless polls. This poll proves nothing, except (maybe) that the majority of people who look at the CNN site (and like to answer polls and have internet access and time on their hands and really think their opinion matters) are pretty friggin’ irrational.

  66. #66 King of Ferrets
    August 19, 2008

    If you’re going to crash polls PZ, crash mine! (I shall eventually get you crash my polls PZ!)

  67. #67 Glen Davidson
    August 19, 2008

    “Do you believe God’s intervention could save a family member even if doctors say treatment would be futile?”

    This is a matter of existential logic. Under Aristotelian logic (but with the Xian God), the answer would unquestionably be “yes”.

    With Boolean logic, we’d have to consider values for the probability of God’s existence, extremely low if we go by available evidence.

    But I’m overthinking, because the poll isn’t an invitation to think, it’s meant to draw out pious affirmations and peeved dismissals.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

  68. #68 negentropyeater
    August 19, 2008

    What I can’t understand is why news media are perpetually running these unscientific, worthless polls.

    It’s called entertainment, like most of the news media nowadays.

  69. #69 makita
    August 19, 2008

    For all you poll-lovers:
    http://www.thegodpoll.com

  70. #70 ThirtyFiveUp
    August 19, 2008

    Mr_P #60

    The Terry Schiavo turmoil did a lot of good. Many people rushed to make their wills and health directives after putting it off for many years.

    Are you still without these essential legalities?
    You will get sick, you will die; be kind.

    There are forms you can complete on-line.

  71. #71 Nicole
    August 19, 2008
  72. #72 Interiot
    August 19, 2008

    Permalink: http://www.cnn.com/POLLSERVER/results/41389.content.html?&csiID=csi5 (I could only find an AJAX results page unfortunately)

    It’s listed here, but that link doesn’t show anything useful: http://www.cnn.com/POLLSERVER/templates/last10.html

  73. #73 IceFarmer
    August 19, 2008

    Medicine is not an exact science and hope can be a great or terrible thing. Some families experience grief can become very irrational. It all comes down to individual cases and people going through the stages of grieving. If my wife were dying I would do ANYTHING for her, whether it would be logical or not. Religious individuals will put a religious spin on it. The end result is that we all die at some point or another.

  74. #74 mmusic
    August 19, 2008

    Here’s the e-mail where CNN is looking for stories about divine intervention saving someones life: empoweredpatient@cnn.com

    Can we give them something besides the God-fearing point of view?

  75. #75 S.Scott
    August 19, 2008

    @mmusic #74 – How about examples of God NOT saving people’s lives.

    (this is a link to my blog – but I knew these examples were located there so please forgive the self promotion)

  76. #76 bastion
    August 19, 2008

    June at #61 wrote:
    The YES viewpoint obviously creates a terrible dilemma for believers, since God could have prevented the Holocaust, intervened on 9/11/01, avoided the 2004 tsunami, and given Bush II a brain.

    Snort. There’s no dilemma for True Believers. It was God’s Will that people die because it’s part of his Mysterious Plan.

    Besides, god really didn’t decide to kill all those folks on 9/11 and in the Holocaust, as those tragedies were the result of his creations exercising their free will, which he chose to give them, knowing all along, of course, that some of his creations would choose to use their free will to do evil.

    So you see, god didn’t kill the victims, he just created those who did do the killing, foresaw that they’d do evil, but chose, because of his Mysterious Plan, not to stop the evil-doers. Nope, can’t blame god for these.

    On the other hand, WRT the tsunami, I suspect that god is directly responsible for that one. It obviously was in his Mysterious Plan for an eternity. Just gotta figure out which god, out of the many weather gods, was responsible.

    Since Bush allegedly gets direct instruction from a Higher Power, Bush’s brainpower, or lack thereof, seems irrelevant. It’s all god’s fault.

  77. #77 karen
    August 19, 2008

    I must be too late. I only see a poll about the drinking age.

  78. #78 Cuttlefish, OM
    August 19, 2008

    I only see the drinking age poll, as well;
    The game is over, near as I can tell
    At least it’s not a total loss for me:
    My comment’s there*, for anyone to see!

    *and one more, pending approval

  79. #79 Pheasant Elixir
    August 19, 2008

    Obviously, all deaths are divine will. Your grandfather passed on? He was probably a closet homosexual, or possibly mixed lycra and cotton. If it was cancer, it was almost for sure god’s will, just as AIDS is.

    If one were to have the extreme hubris to presume to know god’s will, of course. Or if, indeed, if she exists at all.

  80. #80 Wee Mousie
    August 20, 2008

    You see, I believe there is an old, bearded Fellow up there in the sky who might give someone in my family a fatal disease, or mislead the doctors treating it into thinking that it is fatal.

    He regularly pulls these kinds of stunts to see if we will grovel sufficiently to Him to satisfy His need to know we love and fear Him.

    If He is satisfied, our family member recovers from that non-terminal disease, or, alternately, the Fellow in the sky changes the terminal disease He gave that member of my family into a benign illness.

    Perhaps now you understand why I need to have those threat-level warnings color-coded.

  81. #81 Anfractuous
    August 21, 2008

    Yet another poll! Here’s the email I received from a God-fearin’ friend:

    MSNBC is displaying a vote whether or not to remove “In God We Trust” from our currency. Hurry and vote before they take it off the website. When I voted it was 34 – 66% – In God We Trust staying was in the lead. Let your voice be heard. Forward this to everyone on your address book! THIS IS REAL AND IT JUST TAKES A SECOND.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10103521/

    So let’s go reverse this one too.

  82. #82 Anfractuous
    August 21, 2008

    Yet another poll! Here’s the email I received from a God-fearin’ friend:

    MSNBC is displaying a vote whether or not to remove “In God We Trust” from our currency. Hurry and vote before they take it off the website. When I voted it was 34 – 66% – In God We Trust staying was in the lead. Let your voice be heard. Forward this to everyone on your address book! THIS IS REAL AND IT JUST TAKES A SECOND.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10103521/

    So let’s go reverse this one too.

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.