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Public Domain Chief Defends Survey

The view at Lighthouse Point. Photo: Barefoot Marketing

The view at Lighthouse Point. Photo: Barefoot Marketing

By MORGAN ADDERLEY

Tribune Staff Reporter

madderley@tribunemedia.net

PUBLIC Domain president M'wale Rahming yesterday defended the organisation's most recent survey against critiques the poll commissioned by Disney Cruise Lines was biased.

On Monday, Public Domain released a survey which found that more than 60 percent of Bahamians said they "very much" or "somewhat" support Disney's proposal for Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera.

This was immediately met with outrage by activists, who alleged the survey was "deliberately" structured to provide Disney with the answers it needs to sharpen its case for acquiring the property.

In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, Mr Rahming denounced these claims, arguing the survey was not about public opinion of what should happen to the Lighthouse Point property, but specifically about its view on what Disney has proposed.

"The Disney proposal happens to be at Lighthouse Point," Mr Rahming said.

"And that's the proposal that we discussed. If Disney had had a proposal somewhere else, we would have talked about the proposal somewhere else.

"And it definitely wasn't a survey (of) whether you prefer A or B. It was 'do you want A?' Now we could have conversations about B, C, D, as much as you want. But that's not what this was. And I think that the anger and uproar of this is rooted in people not understanding."

Responding to criticisms that the survey asked leading questions, Mr Rahming said: "The reason it's not leading is I'm not actually trying to get an opinion of something that's in thin air.

"I'm saying this is a development that has been proposed and this is what they promised to do. Under that circumstance, do you support this?

"We describe the development as it has been described by the person who is suggesting it. And we took that directly from the website. Just like we took the counterargument…from the counterargument website.

"So I have a hard time understanding how people don't understand that we have to describe something in order to get the people to evaluate it. And a brief description is not useful."

Mr Rahming added he understands the criticism that the survey did not mention any other proposed developments.

"There might be another development that the people want more than this," Mr Rahming admitted. "But I don't know that because I don't have any description for that other development.

"And so the same people who are saying the survey is biased are people who don't have a description for an alternative. So it's not just, 'do you want A or B,' I'm just saying 'do you want A, yes or no?'"

However, he noted he was not made aware of the proposal made by the One Eleuthera Foundation, an organisation that has been locked in a public campaign to block Disney's acquisition of the property.

Mr Rahming also noted the survey was deliberately designed to present counterarguments against Disney's proposal first, then Disney's position last. He added this layout was recommended by the third party to which Public Domain submits all questionnaires.

"(If we had put) the pro arguments first, you don't think then (critics) would have said, 'well that's biased, because you gave the pro arguments first, so they already made their decision?' That was designed.

"We designed that to make sure the negative arguments were the first thing the respondents heard… We have a foreign entity that we submit all of our questionnaires to (and) ask whether they can be perceived as biased. Because we do live in the same bubble as everyone else in The Bahamas.

"So (they) signed off on this, and I said 'well, what if we put the counterarguments first?' And (they) said, 'that's even stronger in terms of the methodology'. And that's why we did that."

When asked if he perceives these critiques as an attack against Public Domain's credibility, Mr Rahming said no, and instead attributed the criticisms to a lack of understanding of the industry.

"Any time that we come out with a survey, on anything, people who disagree with us attack the survey. And I think, or I hope, that at one point we can move beyond attacking the survey and understanding this is what the public thinks. And if you want to change that thinking, feel free, go ahead."

Comments

ThisIsOurs 1 year, 4 months ago

I've no doubt that Mr Rahming is knowledgeable about scientific and research methods, but I think he's being disingenuous.

I recall an interview where hehimself talked about the difference between surveys paid for by private clients and surveys the company conducts for "general" research. "He" said when a private client pays they ask the questions "the client wants". we all know how questions can be skewed, just recall the outcry to clarify the wording on the gaming and gender equality referendum questions. The NHI phone survey conducted toward the end of the PLP administration was littered with leading questions, "should we introduce an NHI tax or should we fire policemen?"

So your data gathering methods can be entirely scientific, but if the questions are skewed, the results will be skewed.

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