For What It’s Worth


Will it help or hinder? Yes or no.

With my warped sense of humor, I couldn’t help but be amused by the poll question today on the Stillwater NewsPress website. It’s not one of those have-you-stopped-beating-your-wife questions, but it’s equally unanswerable.

Here’s the poll question: Provisions kick in Oct. 1 on the Affordable Care Act. Will that be helpful to those in need of health care or a hinderance?  Huh? Clearly, this is an either/or question, but the options offered for answering it are yes, no and not sure. Despite this, readers were answering the question, which raises a question: How does one interpret the answers?

Think again about the question: Will that (provisions of the Affordable Care Act) be helpful to those in need of health care or a hindrance? If you answer yes, you are agreeing that it could either be helpful or a hindrance. Well, duh. If you answer no, you are agreeing that it will be neither helpful nor a hindrance. Well, duh.

That would seem to leave the third option, not sure, as the only sensible answer of the three choices. By answering not sure, you are affirming that you are not sure it will be either helpful or a hindrance. Which may put you in the same boat as those who passed the act into law.

But, if you actually believe that the Affordable (?) Care Act provisions will be either helpful or a hindrance, then you cannot answer the poll question. A “yes” answer doesn’t affirm which you believe it will be, and a “no” answer doesn’t affirm your choice either. Whichever way you answer, it will be unclear what you mean. That may be appropriate in this case. Your answer would be as clear as those provided by the President and members of Congress in talking about the so-called Affordable Care Act.

So, with a question so clearly not answerable by yes or no, response has been zero, right?


When last I checked a few minutes ago, 32 people had answered with the responses almost equally divided between yes (16) and no (13) with three not sure. Amazing that 29 people can find a yes or no answer to this question. No doubt they were confident of their answers, but how are we to interpret the answers? Do they think the act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, will be helpful to those in need of health care, or do they believe it will be a hindrance?

I think I’m going to have to go with “not sure.”

Yes, I did notice the misspelling of hindrance as hinderance in the poll question.

With all this in mind, here’s a poll question:

Was it a bad hair day for the poll person?

O        Yes

O        No

O        Not sure

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1 Response to For What It’s Worth

  1. Judi says:

    Harry, you just made my day! Questions like that have always irritated me to no end. I refuse to take a poll like that because of the very reasons you gave.

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