Or, as so well put in "Yes, Minister":
I was somewhat naive in those days. I did not understand
how the voters could be both for it and against it. Dear old
Humphrey showed me how it's done.
The secret is that when the Man In The Street is approached
by a nice attractive young lady with a clipboard, he is
asked a "series" of questions. Naturally the Man In The
Street doesn't wants to make a good impression and doesn't
want to make a fool of himself. So the market researcher
asks questions designed to elicit "consistent" answers.
Humphrey demonstrated the system on me. "Mr. Woolley, are
you worried about the rise in crime among teen-agers?"
"Yes," I said.
"Do you think there is a lack of discipline and vigorous
training in our Comprehensive Schools?"
"Do they respond to a challenge?"
"Might you be in favor of reintroducing National Service?"
Well, naturally I said yes. One could hardly have said
anything else without looking inconsistent. Then what
happens is that the Opinion Poll publishes only the last
question and answer.
Of course, the reputable polls didn't conduct themselves
like that. But there weren't too many of those. Humphrey
suggested that we commission a new survey, not for the Party
but for the Ministry of Defence. We did so. He invented the
question there and then:
"Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?"
"Yes," I said quite honestly.
"Are you unhappy about the growth of armaments?"
"Do you think there's a danger in giving young people guns
and teaching them how to kill?"
"Do you think it is wrong to force people to take up arms
against their will?"
"Would you oppose the reintroduction of National Service?"
I'd said "Yes" before I'd even realized it, d'you see?
Humphrey was crowing with delight. "You see, Bernard," he
said to me," "you're the perfect Balanced Sample."