Thanks to alert reader Bryan, who posted this below the fold yesterday, the Sedalia Democrat (which editorially opposed the ban on the evolution tee shirt) has now published an investigative article on the hijacking of their “was the tee shirt appropriate?” poll.
The Sedalia Democrat’s latest reader’s poll has garnered more than 6,600 votes which is 50 times more than average.
According to Editor Bob Satnan, the poll, which is posted weekly about a news topic at http://www.sedaliademocrat.com, normally sees about 150 votes.
The poll sought reader’s opinion on a story about Sedalia School District 200 administrators pulling T-shirts worn by the Smith-Cotton High School band after receiving complaints from parents about an “evolution” theme.
The poll titled, “Band T-shirts,” asks readers “Should the Sedalia school district have pulled the Smith-Cotton High School band T-shirts?” Three percent of voters chose, “Yes, the evolution image was inappropriate” and 97 percent opted for, “No, critics and the district are overreacting.”
As the paper notes correctly, our epic win resulted from the intervention of that shrill and godless old militant uncivil atheist, P. Z. Myers. His reach is global!
The staggering number of votes prompted Satnan to temporarily pull the poll to investigate if the results were authentic. Satnan discovered a link to the poll was placed at http://www.scienceblogs.com/pharyngula by blog author P.Z. Myers, who is a professor at the University of Minnesota Morris. “We had an overwhelming response from people who read scientific blogs,” Satnan said. “The poll may not reflect Sedalia’s viewpoint but it does show the global reading audience’s stance.”
Well, at least those of the “global reading audience” who peruse Pharyngula.
According to http://www.urbandictionary.com, pharyngulate is a word created by Myers meaning to skew results of an online poll, usually having to do with religion, science, or politics, in order to reflect a more rational result or to crash an online poll by publishing its link so that large numbers of blog readers will make their opinions known there, often shifting the results dramatically.
If views continue at the current rate, DeFord said, it will reach 90,406 before the night is done. DeFord said Monday’s views indicate the story is viral, or has become popular in a short period of time.
Of those views, many originated from as far away as London, England; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Dublin, Ireland; Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; Oslo, Norway; and Auckland, New Zealand, DeFord reported.
Of course the poll is hardly an unbiased sample of reader opinion — no matter who you see as “readers” — but maybe, just maybe, it will awaken the good citizens of Sedalia to the enormous support for evolution out there. It reminds me of how the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania found themselves unwillingly fixed in the public spotlight after a similarly boneheaded act. One comment already suggests some incipient embarrassment:
Internet polls are statistically meaningless, but a resounding 97% verdict strongly suggests that the school district has a serious problem in the court of world opinion. As far as I can tell, most of the Internet coverage came from blogs (both scientific and religious), but Sedalia was spared the widespread ridicule that would have accompanied mainstream press attention. It should be grateful for that.
(Missourian here, by the way, living far away in Latin America and embarrassed today by my beloved home state. When did we let the loons take over?)