Education – whether science, arts, humanities, or other fields – have been corrupted more over time. Mass media is the leading source of misinformation today and we see daily examples of such misleading information presented as something credible.
The recent case in ongoing misinformation is popular Pakistani media sources citing a survey by PILDAT that finds Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s popularity at 75 percent. For a joke, such reports could do, but seriously?
By the survey – or “Serve-way” in question, Pakistani prime minister along with other right-wingers, all favorites of Pakistan’s controlling military and Middle Eastern master Saudi Arabia is at a peak while the popularity of secular leaders of the country has dropped. Some interesting observations about this survey:
- A ridiculous sample of 3,231 people was reportedly chosen for conducting the survey – assumed to represent 180 million people of Pakistan. Of these, the media doesn’t report how many exactly were from Punjab province and particularly from the strongholds of the province where Mr. Sharif enjoys popularity or has direct political influence.
- The story on Express Tribune doesn’t make any mention of the margin of error that goes with this stats. This kind of omission tacitly implies that the survey is error-free – while none is and the margin of error increases for smaller number of respondents in a larger population.
- The background of the organization that conducted the survey is always extremely important to consider or else you never know how neutral or independent their “findings” are. For this, last year the same PILDAT reportedly did a survey to find Punjab’s Chief Minister as delivering the best performance of all the four CMs. That joke was criticized by opponents as a pseudosurvey. Ironically, it came out at a time when Punjab’s CM was facing accusation and filed criminal complaints of using government forces to openly shoot and kill political opponents.
- The people running the organization – administratively and/or financially – must be revealed to get an idea of the survey’s neutrality. It’s amusing to see PILDAT has given similar reports in favor of the current government and been slammed for it on forums. On their website to date, there is no disclosure of their sources of funding in general an for surveys like these in particular.
Part, and a major part, of the success of such information is the role of popular media that takes as news any statements from organizations, agencies, and businesses and present it as facts, or findings, without including critical commentary or asking important questions, or even including the background of such sources as PILDAT.