Corrections or additions?
These articles by Michele Alperin and Vivian Fransen were prepared
for the October 18, 2000 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
Accuracy in Polling
Poll results inundate consumers in the print media,
over the air waves, and on the Internet and, in the process, influence
public opinion. But veteran pollster Harry O’Neill of Roper
Starch Worldwide advises consumers to approach reported numbers with
caution and not to accept them at face value.
Although the survey data itself may have been gathered according to
the highest professional standards, says O’Neill, "when a release
is put into the media, it is filtered through whoever puts it on the
air or in the paper. It’s one thing to get the numbers; it’s another
to interpret them." Due to time and space considerations,
tend to summarize and interpret results, rather than providing the
raw survey data. O’Neill also cautions consumers to be wary of certain
purported "polls" that may not be valid under any
To provide wary consumers with tools to weed through journalistic
interpretations and evaluate poll results for themselves, O’Neill
speaks Thursday, October 19, at noon at the Mercer County Community
College Communications Center, Room 110. His title: "Here a Poll,
There a Poll, Everywhere Another Poll." Call 609-586-4800,
O’Neill tells consumers to ask the following questions when trying
to weigh the validity of poll results reported in the media:
do not supply the full wording of poll questions, says O’Neill.
if it’s a television report, there is limited time. Print media has
more ability to provide full wordings, but they don’t always."
Adds O’Neill: "If you don’t know exactly what question was asked,
it is difficult to evaluate the results." Only when provided with
the exact wording of a question "can consumers make their own
judgments and decide if a question doesn’t make sense or sounds
of people interviewed, other things being equal, the smaller the
that the sample does not represent the target population.
reflect only the views and opinions of the types of people included
in the sample.
design a method for selecting interviewees, and persons may not
themselves as interviewees.
between the collecting of data and its release may invalidate the
a poll should include this information. "If a firm is well known
and has a good reputation, it lends credibility to a survey,"
is commissioned for a reason, either to gather information or to
a cause or point of view. Consumers must factor these motivations
into their evaluations of particular polls.
in psychology and in 1951 received a masters in clinical psychology
from Penn State University. After working as a clinician in the Air
Force, he got a job with the opinion research group at Prudential
During his 25 years at Opinion Research Corporation, O’Neill did
on a whole range of issues, including political polling for Goldwater
in ’64 and for Nixon in ’68 and ’72. He served as White House pollster
during Nixon’s term, where he "polled every two weeks on
imaginable." Today O’Neill is vice chair of the Roper Division
of Roper Starch Worldwide (formerly Response Analysis), where he
conducts survey research for
on intellectual property, trademark confusion, and misleading
O’Neill holds a high opinion of the survey research industry, and
he believes that "most of the public has a pretty positive
towards polls." However, he warns the consumer to be wary of
types of purported "data" that may be published under the
guise of being reliable and representative:
as if they were the results of scientifically-conducted polls. O’Neill
explains that "focus groups represent only the opinions of the
people in the focus group and cannot get projected beyond that. When
the opinions of the handful of people in a focus group are put forward
as public opinion, it’s unethical."
and scientifically valid. "Although there are a couple of
trying to do a good sampling job on the Internet," says O’Neill,
"some web-based polls are totally worthless — only one half
of the public has PCs and fewer have Internet access." The result
is a biased, unreliable sample.
and scientifically valid. These polls, conducted after political
have their own sampling problems. One issue is that the samples for
these polls include only viewers, not the whole public. In addition,
they include only those viewers who can be reached quickly, since
there is no time for callbacks. Again, the result is a biased,
legislation may be intended to sway public opinion or to legitimate
a company’s point of view. O’Neill explains that if such a poll is
not done properly, "then there can be suspicion that it was done
deliberately to be biasing."
— Michele Alperin
Rider University’s Careers in Science seminars begin
Friday, October 20, at 1 p.m. in Sweigart Hall auditorium with a talk
by a managed care executive, Patricia A. Deverka. They continue
in November and December with seminars by Nobel laureate Eric
and Freeman Dyson, physicist and futurist.
Deverka speaks on "Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research: A Balancing
between Improved Health Status and Escalating Pharmaceutical
She is vice president for scientific affairs at Merck Medco Managed
Care LLC. With a master’s degree from the University of Maryland
of Medicine, and an MD from the University of Pittsburgh, she did
post-doctoral training at Maryland and the University of Chicago.
She has worked at Abbott Laboratories, been vice president of outcomes
research for Janssen Research Foundation, and served as senior vice
president and medical director for Hastings Healthcare Group (now
Health Answers Inc.) in Pennington Business Park.
In the past two years at Merck Medco Deverka developed a health
research group within a large pharmacy benefit management (PBM)
The group aims to measure the impact of its PBM services on pharmacy
and total healthcare costs, patient health outcomes, quality of life,
and satisfaction with pharmaceutical care.
The seminars are arranged by the university’s Science Advisory Board.
Wieschaus, a professor of molecular biology at Princeton University,
will speak on Friday, November 10. Dyson is professor emeritus of
physics at the Institute of Advanced Study and is a recipient of the
national Book Critics Circle Award, among many others. Among his books
are "The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet: Tools of Scientific
Revolution" and "Imagined Worlds." He speaks Friday,
It’s easy to be so caught up in the nitty-gritty tasks
of our day-to-day work that we lose sight of our core values and never
really reveal our true selves in the workplace, say two New Jersey
That’s the reason why Lisa Zimmer and Josephine Diagonale
are teaming up to lead a weekend retreat entitled "Integrating
Spirit & Work: Being Who You Are In The Workplace." This retreat
costs $395 and will run from Friday evening, October 20, through
afternoon, October 22, at Novotel on 100 Independence Way. A series
of interactive sessions that will allow time for short teachings,
writing in journals, and small group discussions, as well as offer
such experiential methods as visualization, imagery, meditation, and
body movement. Overnight accommodations are available but not required
Similar events will take place at the Vincentian Renewal Center on
Mapleton Road later this fall. With Patricia Dolan, Diagonale
leads an experiential exploration of meditation and prayer on Sunday,
October 29, 9:30 to 5 p.m., and "Celebrate the Return of Light
in Meditation and Prayer" on four Thursday evenings in December.
For information, call Zimmer at 973-635-8176 or Diagonale at
"We all spend an enormous amount of our lives in the
says Diagonale, who has over 30 years of experience as a career
teacher, and management consultant. "Yet, we often don’t bring
enough of who we really are," she adds, noting the need for
to explore the cost of not sharing more of their inner selves at work.
"The good news is that you don’t have to wear a mask to be
says Zimmer, who has more than 12 years of managerial and coaching
experience in mid-size and Fortune 500 corporations. "This retreat
is especially designed for people who are beginning to see that they
are holding something back in the workplace and it’s irritating them.
We provide the tools for people to increase their awareness of the
body/mind/spirit connection and better understand the context to look
realistically at the possibilities and opportunities for growth."
Zimmer grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, where her father served as
cantor at Temple Chabei Shalom in Brookline, and her mother was both
a homemaker and social worker. After earning a bachelor’s degree in
education and psychology at Lesley College and a master’s degree in
human resource management at Cambridge College, she worked with
pharmaceutical companies in New Jersey and landed a job as vice
of human resources at Faulding Inc. in Elizabeth. There she met
Diagonale, a consultant hired to teach team-building skills to enhance
"I saw how important it was to go underneath the surface to
a person’s values and underlying concepts to make long-lasting changes
in business behaviors," says Zimmer. She has since opened her
own consulting business (Alexis Rose Consulting), helping
become more effective and helping individuals through her center in
Chatham called Alexis Rose Healing Hearts Center for Well Being and
Therapeutic Massage. Zimmer is also a certified massage therapist,
offering such services as Kripalu body work, aromatherapy, and
The traditional way for corporate leaders to develop more productive
employees, says Diagonale, is to offer staff development programs.
She believes that many successful companies recognize the need to
better understand the complex nature and interconnectedness of people,
productivity, and profits. "Organization development and
development are two sides of the same coin," says Diagonale.
can’t do one without the other."
Diagonale grew up in Teaneck, where her father worked as a wholesale
jeweler, and went to the College of New Rochelle and New York
for a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in English language
and literature). She was a high school teacher in New York City and
later taught, designed curriculum, and trained staff at Gallaudet
University in Washington, D.C.
In 1982 she established a forum for leadership development and
growth called the Diaconia Group, working with clients in the
chemical, financial, and healthcare industries. She later founded
the Healing Tree Center for Counseling & Spirituality, offering
and counseling from offices in Red Bank and Point Pleasant.
While acknowledging the need for individuals to carefully consider
their own circumstances, Diagonale and Zimmer offer the following
advice to help achieve the integration of spirituality and work:
minutes and focus on taking long, deep breaths. With so many stresses
at the office, you can breathe new life into your work when you are
of the building during their workday. Worse yet, we often resort to
eating only a candy bar for lunch, depleting our bodies of proper
nourishment. Going outside for fresh air and taking time for a
lunch can renew your body.
Close your eyes and declutter your mind for a few minutes.
down the hall or attending a staff meeting, make a conscious effort
to reach out to others and interact with the people around you. Such
interactions can help reshape your work environment.
presence and being relaxed," says Diagonale. "To expand our
consciousness, we need to first observe our actions and feelings.
Then we can move forward, released from (and no longer finding
existing in) a kind of bondage to a limited view of ourselves."
— Vivian Fransen
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