Monday, January 21, 2008

The Nittany Weasel Does a Survey

The folks at the Penn State Propaganda Portal want you to know that
...[In]n a recent survey, 47 percent of a representative sample of Pennsylvanians said they been touched by Penn State over the 12-month period immediately preceding the survey...
Why that sounds good... doesn't it? But, what exactly does it mean to be "touched by Penn State"?
In the survey, respondents were asked whether they or a member of their household had engaged in any Penn State activities, ranging from attending an athletic event to watching WPSU-TV, to taking a class at Penn State, to receiving outreach assistance. While some of the survey categories of involvement were broad -- such as being a Penn State employee -- others were more specific, such as receiving assistance through a Penn State program.
So being "touched by Penn State" means, roughly, engaging in any activity which brings you within sight of a Penn State logo. Presumably, logos worn by drunk students don't count.

Now we don't know how the numbers actually breakdown, since the Portal doesn't give us the actual results of the survey--curious wouldn't you say?-- and the folks that did the survey don't have the results posted either. It's quite possible that most of the 47 percent of respondents that were "touched by Penn State" simply got drunk at a tailgate.

The folks at the Portal would like us to think otherwise. Here are anecdotes they provide to illustrate the results they don't provide.
  • An elderly couple facing bankruptcy caused by mounting medical bills turns to Penn State Dickinson’s Elder Law and Consumer Protection Center for help.

  • A distraught new mom avoids shaking her crying baby after remembering a Penn State video she had seen as part of a statewide parenting program.

  • Dillon Floral, a Bloomsburg, Pa.-based business, turned to PennTAP for help in finding an alternative to the exorbitantly priced fuel oil it was using to heat its greenhouses during winter months. A PennTAP energy specialist helped the business move from oil to a cheaper, cleaner fuel source: woody residue generated by local mills and tree service companies. Dillon Floral estimates it will sav $150,000 a year
    in fuel costs, yielding a four-year payback for the new system.

You gotta figure that if the survey revealed what the examples would lead you to believe it revealed, then the folks at the Propaganda Portal would have given you a link to the survey. Let's call this getting the most marketing bang from survey bucks that didn't give you the results you hoped for.

Now the only question left is, how long will it take the CDT to feature this nonsense on their front page?

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