Lies, damned lies and survey results

by | Jul 15, 2022 | Lobbyland

POLL: MAJORITY OF AUSTRALIANS DEMAND NEW COAL-FIRED POWER STATIONS proclaimed the media release from the Institute of Public Affairs on Thursday. Yes, it was scary enough to rate capital letters.

“A new poll commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs, reinforces that a majority of Australians want practical and proven solutions to solve the Great Energy Crisis, and this includes building new coal-fired power stations,” the handout harangue continued.

”The poll of 1,001 Australians undertaken for the IPA asked respondents whether they agree or disagree with the following statement: “Australia should build new coal-fired power stations to ensure families have reliable and affordable electricity all year round”. The result was 55% agree, 23% disagree, 22% neither agree nor disagree.

In some ways the third category is the most concerning, but … 55% agree? With all due respect to the IPA in its valiant attempt to keep alive the industry behind the planet-destroying fuel, this is push-polling 101.

The ancients knew the question formulation this way: Post hoc ergo propter hoc (“after this, therefore because of this”.) Otherwise known as an informal fallacy.

Such tricks are not restricted to lobbies on the right, to be fair. Surveys that find that Australians want to spend more money on schools than the military; or want to pay more tax to increase social services, are favourite push-polls for progressives.

“Australia’s Great Energy Crisis is a direct result of the elite’s policy of net zero emissions by 2050. The political class’s obsession with unreliable renewables continues to push reliable and affordable baseload power generation off the grid and makes us more vulnerable,” proclaimed Daniel Wild, deputy executive director of the Institute.

Which at least makes the point of the poll clear in the first place.



Mark Sawyer is a journalist with Michael West Media. He has extensive experience in print and digital media in Sydney, Melbourne and rural Australia.

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