IX:37 – To begin by bluster, but afterwards to take fright
at the enemy’s numbers, shows a supreme lack of intelligence.
But bombing online polls? Man, that’s just retarded.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Opinion is divided as to whether the idea of online polls have any intrinsic merit whatsoever1. At best they are an amusing distraction, at worst they are a showdown between socially networked losers who’s lives are so hollow they need artificial gimmicks like these to give some kind of substance to their lives – a fearsome contest to see who’s gang is bigger than the other over really critical stuff like whether Justin Bieber sucks or not – and this hint of desperation can often inspire less than ethical or rational behaviour. Often, even common vandalism by “bombing” the polls either with flash mobs voting dozens or hundreds of times over, or for the more technically accomplished, by bombing the poll with automated scripts.

So to my mind, if these polls are going to provide any meaningful reflection of reality, it’s probably only during the course of the first few hours, before any of the vandals or pitchforks-n-torches lynch mobs can organise themselves enough to start making any real impact.

Some of these poll attacks have been elevated to the level of high art, such as when the fun loving kids at 4chan [NSFW] decided that Time Magazine was worthy of their attention after it had run a few articles on moot, 4chan’s founder, and deigned to include him in their 2009 Time 100 World’s Most Influential People Poll. The results, to say the least, were spectacular – moot was not only bombed to the top of the list, but the pièce de résistance was an inside joke probably only understood by 4chan’ers that turned the whole poll into a farce now of internet Hall of Fame status –

Click image for a nice overview of this simply awesome piece of 4chanology

On May 13, when Melbourne’s The Age ran the first of its articles exposing Access Ministries and the Australian Christian Lobby for the shameless, black-hearted liars that they are – who not only want to turn your children into baby christian Taliban, but expect you all to pay through the nose for the privilege – they also included a readers’ poll with the article that is still running and accepting votes. Of course it includes the standard disclaimer that may as well be in Chinese as far as the folks that take these things seriously goes –

Disclaimer: These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.

The poll question itself is highly flawed in a manner that sabotages its own intent (again, these subtleties will be lost on most)

Do you support religion in schools programs?

First up, it’s non-specific – is it any program or Access CRE? Secondly, it overlooks the fact that many secularists, and even many unrepentant atheists, are NOT against teaching religion in schools – they are quite happy for that to occur. But with one key proviso – that it is comparative religious education, and not indoctrinational, ideological religious “education”. This point is anathema to Access and the ACL – even when they agree up to a point, that agreement has been proven to be completely ignored in the divinely sanctioned quest to ensnare new disciples surreptitiously behind the parents and teachers backs.

So the poll is pretty much nonsense before it even starts, but nevertheless it will capture a healthy number of participants. What is so interesting about this poll though is not the % for/against it has generated, but the % for/against viewed over time –

Poll 13th May, after approx. 6 hours

Poll 17th May (Total vote count - see erratum)

Poll 22nd May

Seriously, what sort of conclusion are you supposed to draw from these screencaps? How can you possibly not squint your eyes and glare suspiciously? The poll had fallen off the main page of the newspaper by the end of the day it was posted. Now, it can only be found if you actually search for it, or look for “related article” links at the very bottom of only some of the follow up stories on the Access exposé.

Such a slow inversion of opinion over the space of 9 days would be extremely unusual in any poll, especially one that is no longer in an obvious place. More so, if you have been following the story and monitoring reader feedback – there is no corresponding expression of public support2.

The letters pages in fact are quite damning of both Access Ministries and the ACL – objections have even been raised by clergy who were involved with Access CRE, the Melbourne Grammar School chaplaincy, and clergy in academia such as Professor Gary Bouma and Reverend Dr. Brian Porter.

Letters in defense are markedly rarer, and mostly from the usual suspects – folks probably from the Salt Shakers complaint letter sweatshops and various loose cannons like Pastor Peter Curtis taking a rare time out from his gays-are-filthy-and-spread-disease routine to chime in. All are high on indignation, squeals of persecution. And all, religiously, ignore the main issue at hand – the filthy, dirty lying at the heart of the matter and at the core of Access’ very being.

So Reverend Canon Doctor Evonne Paddison, I would like to ask you a simple question, but I won’t because I know that either –

  • You’ll ignore it and pretend you were never asked, or
  • Lie through your teeth

So I won’t bother. I will ask it here instead –

Given the overview of the bigger picture we are viewing here, is there really any rational explanation to this poll being magically flipped on its head *other* than Access and the ACL deliberately corrupting the results by mounting a dogpiling campaign to push the “yes” vote?

Because I am stumped. And as far as poll bombing goes, comparing this clumsy and bullet-headed approach to it, where it has taken close to 9 days to accomplish, to the sheer artistry of 4chan is kind of like comparing an infant finger painting on walls with doo-doo to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Yet, really, there is no other conclusion to draw, given the deception and fraud to date, as well as the other notable propaganda projects – this is yet another clumsy and ham-fisted effort to manipulate public opinion in favour of Access Ministries3. That long after this poll has fallen into the obscure back pages of The Age, Access apologists have been slapping away at it day and night just for the sake of yet another fraudulent factoid to prop up their indefensible position. Another effort that only Access and the ACL itself could be stupid enough to think will absolve them of all wrong doing.

This is starting to be like watching a bad stand up comic trying to reclaim her act by falling back on even lamer jokes. It’s not working folks. Your cover is blown, your intentions are known and no one believes anything you say any more.

Footnote: It would be fascinating to find someone at The Age who could obtain a histogram of the actual poll timeline – see exactly what points the spikes in activity occurred. I’m sure someone out there knows someone… It would be very interesting to analyse.

Erratum: The “Total votes” in image 2 is probably wrong – a botched image merge. The overall % and dates are correct and have been noted separately in previous blogs and Facebook threads. Here’s another retrieved data point just for good measure showing the downward trend not long after image 1 –

Kline Col ‎@ 12:30pm, Sat 14 May 2011,
the poll is now 69% out of 16,741 voters
AGAINST these religious fanatics in schools.

http://www.facebook.com/search.php?q=melbourne%20grammar&init=quick&tas=0.6908077378863289#!/KristyVensson/posts/145462765525234

1 – A couple of articles that have actually given this some thought –

http://ausweb.scu.edu.au/aw04/papers/refereed/sefton/paper.html

http://www.pollingreport.com/ht_online.htm

2 -I feel so stupid. I forgot about the global christ-hater conspiracy that’s in place that controls all of the print media.

3 – I can just imagine the chain emails “URGENT!!! FORWARD THIS TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!” and feverish hours sitting in front of a browser clicking “yes”, deleting cookies, reloading web page, clicking “yes” into the wee hours by the maniac few.

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