What fools we mortals be.
Part of the problem with polling in the modern era, what field statisticians of every stripe who have surveyed human beings have long known, is that people are, by nature, strangely fickle.
Pollsters and statisticians, the honest ones anyway, pointed out some time ago that phrasing a question differently often results in a completely different, sometimes directly contradictory, answer. These same authorities have noticed that tweaking a word here, rearranging a phrase there, reveals a universal human truth:
People don’t always know what they want. They are both stubborn and suggestible in their viewpoints. People contradict themselves; they contain, as Walt Whitman once said, multitudes.
Politicians and policy-makers truly interested in the answers to the such questions, as opposed to those merely pushing some or other agenda or pre-configured narrative, have noticed that support for certain policies and programs dwindles the further questioners are willing to delve into actual real-world logistics.
For instance; asked if they would support universal health care, a great many people might answer “yes”. Asked if they would support a universal health care system replacing the current Medicare/Medicaid system of health care in America, those some respondents will answer “no”.
Our attitude toward privacy in America is microcosm of this fickleness.
First of all, the cherishing of privacy is not a universal human value. On the contrary. Most successful multi-national companies have learned to educate their employees on matters of cultural fluency. Even something as small as the booking of hotel rooms for a business conference can have nuanced cultural implications.
When booking hotel rooms for American co-workers attending the same conference, booking each individual their own private room is the cultural norm; Americans prioritize privacy. Expecting co-workers to share a room would be considered inappropriate.
When booking hotel rooms for a conference in some East Asian countries, however, giving each person their own room would result in two or more people sharing a room, and leaving the…