05 June 2011

Piper/Warren post-script #1: That Poll

by Frank Turk

When I shut the poll down this morning, here are what the results looked like:

click to enlarge

Johnny D's complaint that the answers were unscientifically formulated notwithstanding, there's an interesting couple of items to think about from the results:

[item #1] It's simply unquestionable that the least-likely meaning the readers of this blog got from the interview was "Edwards had no influence on PDL." At 17% of the respondents, this interpretation seems to have occurred to the least nubbier of people. I'd be interested to hear from either Dr. Piper or Pastor Warren on this matter -- do they find interpretation #2 plausible at all? It's interesting also because I got an e-mail from someone who was trying to make the case that Warren was actually saying he was influenced by Piper, ad therefore indirectly influenced by Edwards. This person has since stopped e-mailing me, but I look forward to his exegesis of the text or his commentary on the video in order to see where that comes from.

[item #2] 48% of the respondents thought that Pastor Warren was saying that Edwards had some kind of influence of himself and PDL. That's pretty good. It leaves the question open: how believable is that claim? That's actually my question in the open letter, and I think it's a wholly-valid question.

[item #3] The stunner for me is that fully a third of respondents chose the last option: that somehow Pastor Warren was saying, "Edwards did not influence me or PDL." I threw that answer in there just to make sure that nobody would say I was baiting the readers, but to think that 35% would actually choose this answer puzzles me. And it worries me.

Go back and re-read the first 4-5 pages of the transcript, or listen to the first 10-ish minutes of the video/audio. Can we really say that Warren -meant- with those words that Edwards had no influence? Really? With which words? How can a man say the exact phrase "Edwards was an influence" and mean "Edwards was not an influence"?

My interpretation of this result is three-fold:

[1] Some people have plainly interpreted this question to ask, "What did Warren mean to say?" That's not what was asked but fair enough: I agree with you that he probably meant to say, or should have said, "OK, you got me: Edwards was not an influence." But he did not say that at all.

[2] Some people read this question to mean, "do you believe him for what he said?" And fair enough: I don't believe him either. That is why I find it hard to believe that Dr. Piper believes him.

[3] But I also have a terrible suspicion: I think that the result here points to a bias against Warren which really amounts to a knee-jerk reaction against the man. "What did he mean to say? Bah! I don't care what he meant to say - Edwards wasn't an influence. End of story."

Do with it what you will. Comments are closed.

Phil & Chris Rosebrough went through the whole interview blow by blow; you can find part 1 of that commentary here.