11 Reasons to Ignore the 10-Year-Old Annenberg Survey About the Washington Football Team’s Offensive Name
By Natasha Dhillon, Justin Hemmings, Maggie Scales, and William Stanley
[T]en years can change a lot, which is one reason why pollsters don’t take a Presidential opinion poll at inauguration, then pack things up, pat each other on the back and say “Let’s do this again sometime.”
2. Context Matters
If this really is the be-all and end-all of surveys on the offensive nature of the Redskins name, then it should have been the focus of the survey. Instead, a single question was asked as part of a series of unrelated questions covering a variety of topics.
3. The Self-Identification Problem
The survey asked people if they were Native American, but did not follow up the answer with any additional questions to discern tribal membership or level of heritage.
4. Who Even Uses Landlines?!
That’s right folks—in one of the more troubling and somewhat hilarious portions of the survey, the NAES only contacted people with a landline telephone.
5. Didn’t the Question Wasn’t not but is was Confusing
Did you get that? Probably not. From the NAES press release itself, the question posed was: “The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or doesn’t it bother you?”
6. Social Progress is the True Measurement
As public awareness grows, perceptions change. Not surprisingly then, some of today’s most widely-supported human rights movements have started out as “niche” issues with a modicum of support.
7. Size Matters
The Annenberg survey polled a mere 768 self-identifying Indians or Native Americans, and didn’t survey data from Hawaii or Alaska.
8. People Tell Pollsters What They Think They Want to Hear
All polling is subject to a phenomenon called “social desirability bias,” in which respondents tell pollsters what they think is the socially appropriate answer rather than giving their honest opinion.
9. Should we be Okay Severely Offending 9% of a Populace?
Let’s say we accept the Annenberg study as the gospel truth—a terrible idea by the way—do you really think it’s okay to severely offend people as long as the group offended is in the minority?
10. What Can We Do to Fix it?
One thing that could be done is to conduct some sort of new survey to gauge how people feel. Wait, what? This has been done? On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 the Oneida Nation released the results of a poll they conducted of residents in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.
11. Does the Survey Even Matter?
[U]pon his death, the infamous George Preston Marshall created a charitable foundation with but one non-negotiable condition—no money was to be used for “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.” If that’s honor and respect for other races, then I have some oceanfront property in Idaho to sell you.