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The Pope and Market Research Surveys


The humorist and author Mark Twain is often is attributed with saying: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

This reminds me of little story that shows why polling, surveys and market research ought to be carefully constructed.  Business can fall in love with an idea — and at great loss.  This story is why questions need to be crafted objectively when developing market research surveys:

Two priests want to know if they can smoke and pray at the same time.

One priests asks the Pope, “When I’m praying, is it okay to smoke?”

The Pope replies, “No, when you are praying that is all you should be focused on.”

The other priest poses his question to the Pope in a slightly different construct and asks, “When I am smoking, is it okay for me to pray?”

The Pope replies, “Yes, it is always appropriate to pray anytime.”

Pardon me for saying it, but damn those statistics!

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