Let’s stop the SLOP

The Fallacy of Online Surveys: No Data Are Better Than Bad Data

A Recently Published Responsive Management Journal Article Outlines Why Online Surveys Continue to Yield Inaccurate, Unreliable, and Biased Data

INTERNET OR ONLINE SURVEYS have become a popular and attractive way to measure opinions and attitudes of the general population and more specific groups within the general population. Although onlinesurveys may seem to be more economical and easier to administer than traditional survey research methods, they pose several problems to obtaining scientifically valid and accurate results. A peer-reviewed article by Responsive Management staff published in the January-February 2010 issue of Human Dimensions of Wildlife details the specific issues surrounding the use of online surveys in human dimensions research. Reprints of the article can be ordered here. Responsive Management would like to thank Jerry Vaske of Colorado State University for his assistance with the Human Dimensions article and for granting us permission to distribute this popularized version of the article.

Mark Damian Duda
Executive Director


The above is from


and note this:

Self-Selected Listener Opinion Poll (SLOP)

Paul J. Lavrakas

A self-selected listener opinion poll, also called SLOP, is an unscientific poll that is conducted by broadcast media (television stations and radio stations) to engage their audiences by providing them an opportunity to register their opinion about some topic that the station believes has current news …

Click here to see full text : http://srmo.sagepub.com/view/encyclopedia-of-survey-research-methods/n524.xml

SLOPs happen in philosophy too, not by broadcast media but by blogs with a bent. Any survey that invites readers to participate is by its very nature badly designed.

By Noelle McAfee

I am professor of philosophy at Emory University and editor of the Kettering Review. My latest book, Fear of Breakdown: Politics and Psychoanalysis, explores what is behind the upsurge of virulent nationalism and intransigent politics across the world today. My other writings include Democracy and the Political Unconscious; Habermas, Kristeva, and Citizenship; Julia Kristeva; and numerous articles and book chapters. Edited volumes include Standing with the Public: the Humanities and Democratic Practice and a special issue of the philosophy journal Hypatia on feminist engagements in democratic theory. I am also the author of the entry on feminist political philosophy in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and well into my next book project on democratic public life.


  1. He could always create another poll, asking if his last poll was appropriate. Don’t worry about if the options seem biased or weirdly phrased, that poll will be anonymous.

  2. Just to hammer home the point, in one recent especially sloppy philosophical SLOP, the word is that it was possible to vote early and often. That’s right, from the reports I’ve heard, people could vote their way multiple times. The bigots, according to the poll results, albeit faulty, won. So the poll’s author congratulates himself for having done a fine job.

    For an example of a sloppy philosophical SLOP, see this: http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2014/02/last-weeks-discussion-of-the-site-visit-committee-report-a-poll.html

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