Monday, 16 May 2011

Stupid Poll

Well, in the spirit of housing a topical online poll every week (or whatever the hell their duration is), the Winnipeg Free Press has a new poll on the 2011 Manitoba Floods. What's the question?

Flooding in Manitoba and along the Mississippi is caused by...

Purely natural causes, that's all 61%results bar
Human-caused climate change 21%results bar
Inadequate flood control by governments 17%results bar

These results are current as of May 16, 2011 at 1:31 PM.

This is one of the worst false trichotomies I have ever seen. Of course seasonal overflowing occurs all the time and this is "natural", but said seasonal overflowing can be worsened by Human-caused climate change. And the government may inadequately control the flood because of an inability to factor in climate changes. One can reasonably answer "all three".

 As a matter of fact, flooding in the area south of Portage la Prairie and on Lake St. Martin is caused or worsened by flood control that protects other areas. Whether the government is right to do this or whether it's reasonable to expect governments to predict the worst case in unusual situations is another matter, but the poll options are a lousy way of framing the issue.

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