Careers in Science

Wearing Masks at Work

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:

What questions were asked in the poll? The media often

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


How many people were in the sample? The larger the number

of people interviewed, other things being equal, the smaller the


that the sample does not represent the target population.

What kinds of people were in the sample? A poll’s results

reflect only the views and opinions of the types of people included

in the sample.

How was the sample selected? The pollster must carefully

design a method for selecting interviewees, and persons may not


themselves as interviewees.

When was the research done? Events that occur in the


between the collecting of data and its release may invalidate the

survey’s results.

What company did the survey? Any journalistic report of

a poll should include this information. "If a firm is well known

and has a good reputation, it lends credibility to a survey,"

says O’Neill.

Who is the client who sponsored the research? Every poll

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.

O’Neill graduated from Colgate University in 1950 with a degree

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

advertising (

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:

1.) The results of focus groups are sometimes published

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."

2.) Web-based poll data may be projected as representative

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.

3.) Data from instant polls may be projected as


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,



4.) Polls released on a particular issue or piece of


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

Top Of Page
Careers in Science

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,



Top Of Page
Wearing Masks at Work

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

corporate consultants.

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

for participants.

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

energy balancing.

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:

Do breathing exercises. Close your office door for five

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


Go out for lunch. Some people never physically step


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.

Brief periods of meditation in the workplace are healthy.

Close your eyes and declutter your mind for a few minutes.

Make connections with people. Whether you are walking

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.

"Creativity and productivity is about having a sense of

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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