A very important survey

The other day, I got a call. Normally, when I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer the phone. However, for various reasons, these days I answer every call.

It went something like this:

Me: “Emilio here.”

Caller: “Hello, is this Emilio?”

Me: “Yes. That’s why I said ‘Emilio here’ when I answered.”

Caller: “Hi. My name is (something I didn’t catch) calling on behalf of (survey company whose name I also didn’t pay attention to) with a very important survey.”

Me: “Sorry; I don’t do surveys.”

Caller: “Sir, this is a very important national survey about national issues. Your participation is crucial.”

Me: “Crucial to whom?”

Caller: “Excuse me?”

Me: “Crucial to whom? Who commissioned the survey?”

Caller: “I’m sorry, we can’t disclose that information.”

Me: “That’s OK, I’m not interested anyway.”

Caller: “Sir, please understand, this is a very important survey, and you were scientifically chosen based on your phone number to represent your area.”

Me: “My phone number has a Michigan Area code, and I reside in Hawaii. Which area am I representing?”

Caller: “I don’t know, but you were scientifically chosen for this survey.”

Me: “What if I would have died yesterday? What would you have done?”

Caller: “Excuse me?”

Me: “I was scientifically chosen for this important survey, and my participation is crucial?”

Caller: “Yes.”

Me: “What if I would have died yesterday? What would you have done?”

Caller: “It’s based on the phone number, so it’s for whoever answers.”

Me: “So, you don’t care if it’s actually me; it’s whoever answers this number. Since it’s not my opinion you’re interested in, it seems you could find an alternate, just like if I’d died yesterday. I’m not interested in taking the survey. Please choose the next name on the list instead.”

Caller: “Sir, please, it’s important you participate. Why would you not provide your opinion on these very important issues?”

Me: “For one, the questions are usually worded to promote a particular view. For another, few things have simple answers. Also, I’m not interested in taking the survey.”

Caller: “The answers allow for varied opinions, and you can skip any answers that you don’t feel comfortable answering.”

Me: “That seems strange.”

Caller: “What seems strange?”

Me: “The fact that my input is crucial, but I can skip answering questions. It sounds as if I’m not needed at all. Sort of like I could tell you I want to skip all the questions, and we’re done with the survey.”

Caller: “Won’t you please participate?”

Me: “I tell you what I will do. We can start the survey. If we hit any options that don’t match my opinion, we stop.”

Caller: “OK, that’s fine. First, let me ask you a few background questions.”

Me: “What kind of background questions? You said I was scientifically chosen. Don’t you guys already know stuff about me? It sounds like this is just a random call.”

Caller: “We have to verify general information.”

*** brief questions about age, marital status, and job status, nothing involving actual numbers and stuff ***

Caller: “First question: Healthcare is a basic human right; do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree?”

Me: “How do you define healthcare?”

Caller: “That’s not in the question; Healthcare is a basic human right; do you strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, or strongly disagree?”

Me: “I can’t answer that question.”

Caller: “So you pass on the question?”

Me: “Sure, but if the questions are all like that, we can stop right now.”

Caller: “Second Question: President Trump has stated that he will build a wall and pass laws to slow or stop illegal immigration; how confident are you that he can accomplish what he said? Very confident, somewhat confident, somewhat doubtful, strongly doubtful?”

Me: “That’s a two-part question. Plus, you don’t have a neutral option.”

Caller: “It’s a single question; are you very confident, somewhat confident, somewhat doubtful, strongly doubtful he can achieve his objectives?”

Me: “I’m pretty sure that’s a two-part question; one part is about building the wall, the other part is about passing laws. There’s also an implied third question as to whether either or both of those measures would be effective or not.”

Caller: “It’s a straightforward question: how confident are you that he can accomplish what he said? Very confident, somewhat confident, somewhat doubtful, strongly doubtful?”

Me: “Well, I think we’ve reached an impasse. You can’t rephrase the question, and I can’t answer it as it’s being asked. I thank you for your patience and wish you a great day. Goodbye.”

<><><><><>< 0 ><><><><><>

And that, dear readers, is why I’ve stopped participating in phone surveys. It’s also why — when I hear results of various surveys — I’m skeptical. Even when conducted by reputable research houses, the questions themselves are often leading and rarely capture the nuances of important issues.

Few things can be slotted into black-and-white opinions, and you should be skeptical when someone claims a large percentage of persons are either for or against something.

For one, you don’t know what they were asked, and for another, you have no idea who answered the questions, the sample size, how informed they were, their level of education, nor any other number of what could be important attributes affecting their answers.

But, ultimately, ask me how important it is that a certain percentage of people believe something or other.

It’s not important at all. Never has been, never will be.

Think about it; do you care what your neighbor thinks about issues that concern your life, your welfare, and the welfare of your family and friends?  

Here’s my advice; FIRST learn as much as you can about everything that is of importance to you and formulate an opinion based on what you learned.

THEN, check with someone who has a different opinion and listen to them.

THEN, decide if their argument and reasoning are better than your arguments and reasoning. Note: this is the hard part because it requires you be honest with yourself. Most people are selfish and rationalize things in their favor.

THEN, continue learning, listening, and constantly checking the validity of your opinions and beliefs.

. . . I know very few people who follow that advice and I’m therefore not surprised to look around and conclude we’re screwed. But, I don’t feel bad about it; any country willing to be governed by “surveys says” deserves to go down in flames and make room for someone more capable to take over.   

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.


Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
About “likes”:   Of “Likes”, Subscriptions, and Stuff

Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, sympathy, or complaining about my life, or asking for help and advice, know you’re likely missing my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
This entry was posted in Opinions and Stuff, Politics and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to A very important survey

  1. Haha they’re so frustrating and they read from a script which is why he couldn’t answer your questions. When I was younger I would listen and participate out of courtesy but not anymore. Now I say I’m not interested and if they keep going I just hang up. I finally realised that I didn’t have to put up with it. Couldn’t be bothered anymore. Great post Emilio :)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sandra getgood says:

    Brilliant post! I don’t see how those surveys make any sense or can be useful at all…they are all mostly the same (once they have selected their target-of-the-day) and have answers that are meaningless. I laughed out loud when I read some of your answers, which had the bonus of being perfectly sensible comments, as well as being very amusing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      I don’t think the purpose is to make sense or learn anything. It’s just so that some group or other can claim some percent of people agrees with their myopic and often self-serving views.

      And, thanks. I was annoyed when I started writing it (hence why I started writing it) but the mere process of writing about it calmed me down and set me in a good mood.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I always refuse to participate. The first few questions always appear to be important but they quickly become questions about life insurance, washing machine maintenance plans and energy suppliers. They harvest the information then pass on to all of their pals and the phone never stops ringing for the next six months.

    My favourite scam caller is the Indian who pretends to be from Microsoft and wants to help clearing a bad virus. It is great fun if you can keep them talking for ten minutes or so by pretending to be stupid and then judging the moment just right to tell them to jog on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      Those guys are really fun to mess with. I usually say things like:

      “Oh, I know! I got so frustrated I threw the computer out the windows!” followed by:
      “Yes; it’s now out in the yard and my neighbors want me to clean it up.”


      “I’m glad you called; my computer burst into flames and I’m looking for someone to blame and Microsoft said they’d have someone call me.”

      Unfortunately, often, their English is not so good, but I do speak some broken English so:

      “Computer no more. Go boom. You send new?”

      Liked by 2 people

  4. oneowner says:

    I would not have gotten this far with this call. If I got this call it would have been a very short post. But now everyone sends me surveys. If I have my car serviced, I get a survey. If I go to the dentist, I get a survey. I don’t take any of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. seekraz says:

    That was fun. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. desleyjane says:

    People love being spoon-fed information. The whole paleo, Sugar, fructose, anti-vax etc brigade proves that. You gave him much more time than I would have. But my dad will do what you did – it’s great because you’ve wasted their time so now that’s one or two less people they can call.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent post! I loved your answers and how you handled the surveyor-person! (Ha! I wonder if you were a topic of conversation during surveyor lunchtime. ???)
    I quit participating in phone surveys eons ago.
    And since they let ME get a smart-phone, years ago, (I know! The irony!), I quit answering any call if I don’t recognize the number.
    HUGS!!! :-)


    • disperser says:

      Yeah, my normal procedure is to let the call go to voicemail if I don’t recognize the number. However, these days I’m likely to get calls from people I want to speak to and that have phones numbers from various area codes . . . ergo, I answer all the calls I get.

      It’s just for another week or two, and then I’ll go incognito once more.

      Glad you enjoyed the conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. mvschulze says:

    Loved this! These calls are totally out of control, to the point where I no longer answer the “land line!” But this is nothing new. Many years ago while I was dating my future wife, such calls were already invading our lines. My father, never a really patient person, once picked up the ringing phone… shouted “DROP DEAD!” and promptly hung-up…..on my soon to be mother-in law, she calling our number for the first time to introduce herself! M :-)


  9. colonialist says:

    I feel sorry for that poor person. I don’t think he often gets respondents like you; not if he’s still sane he doesn’t.

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      I’m actually fairly pleasant when I do this . . . I recognize the person probably hates their job and also recognize the people need these jobs and are not just doing it as a lark.

      Getting mad at the caller or being rude to them has no effect on the company that hires them and if anything, it may hurt the people because they will be deemed poor performers.

      At the same time, I don’t want to contribute to the farce. I suppose I could answer opposite what I think they want to hear or even give random answers based on a numerical pattern.

      However, the next one that calls, I will tell them up front that I will lie on each and every answer . . . and I bet they won’t care.

      Liked by 2 people

      • colonialist says:

        My normal answer to the preamble usually gets the conversation terminated fairly abruptly: ‘What’s in it for me?’


      • disperser says:

        This actually offered a gift card (which I declined). I don’t remember the amount, but it was something like $10 or $15.

        I’m always suspicious of those because they invariably ask for more information than I’m willing to share (full name, address, etc).


  10. macquie says:

    The phone conversation part was classic.


  11. That was hilarious, and here I was beginning to believe that you were completely, and utterly, devoid of real humour. just go to show I too can be wrong.


  12. Emily Scott says:

    You probably brightened that person’s day you know. I kinda do care what my neighbour thinks about issues that affect my life. For instance, if my neighbour starts thinking that I should no longer exist, that would be a problem. Not that a phone survey would reveal that.

    The advice to check with someone who has a different opinion and then listen to them is excellent. If only people did this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • disperser says:

      Hmm . . . She sounded rather irked, so I’m guessing not.

      As for caring what your neighbors think, that’s not what I meant. It’s more to do with politics and opinions about certain issues.

      So, yes, I care if someone bears us ill will, but I don’t care about their political beliefs, at least not so much that out affects my thinking.

      The particular comment was addressing the argument often thrown at me starting the number of people believing something as if that lends legitimacy to the belief.

      That may be the case for some things (for instance, I’m likely to defer to scientific consensus for most things) but not likely when it comes to, say, whether I would look good with hair extensions or would benefit from bathing more often and using a stronger deodorant . . . although, perhaps I should.

      As for the advice, it takes practice and is something I’m conscious of when I debate or discuss things; making sure I’m not ignoring good points just because I don’t like them or I want to “win” the argument.


  13. Hi Emilio. Sounds like you had fun and also sent a mighty important message out. I can see that sadly you are not the right person to invite to do our survey of older bloggers!


    • disperser says:

      You are probably right. I mean, I am an older blogger but — as I said in a previous comment — the next survey I take I plan to randomly lie after saying that I will do so.

      Seriously, I see little benefit to surveys because people who agree to take them are not representative of the whole population . . . for instance, they don’t represent people who refuse to take surveys.

      I also think that few people answer truthfully . . . they either try to guess the “right” answer or answer as they would imagine a smart, nice, informed, socially conscious, and hep individuals might answer. Even when completely anonymous (no such thing) people might be self-conscious of certain answers and might bend the truth.

      However, if you’re doing a survey on the benefits of Spam (the meat, not the solicitations) and its contribution to both longevity of body and soundness of mind, count me in . . . as in, “yes, Spam is great!”

      Liked by 1 person

Voice your opinion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.