See Below: Response to Accusations that Survey is Biased
There’s an online survey regarding the proposed Sequim Methadone Clinic, and you’re welcome to take it anonymously. Hundreds of local Sequim residents have already taken it, and I want to make it available to potential Sequim retirees so they can help us evaluate the impact or the perceived impact it would have on people outside the Sequim area who are considering moving to Sequim and buying a home.
Narrative: The city of Sequim is considering the approval of a methadone clinic within the Sequim City limits, and there’s some discussion about moving it outside the city into the Clallam County jurisdiction. Regardless of the specific location, there are questions about whether the clinic’s treatment services are an effective way to help people overcome opioid addictions, and there are serious questions that no one can answer regarding the likelihood of increased crime rates, increased homelessness in Sequim, and whether the Sequim area real estate market will take a hit in lower sales and in lower prices. This survey is intended to take the pulse of Sequim and Clallam County residents as well as people from outside the area. Thank you for your participation, and please share the link with friends and neighbors so they can also take the survey. The larger the number of people who take the Sequim methadone clinic survey, the more credible the survey results will be, and the results are available to everyone online in real time.
Since many of these issues are future events, they are impossible to gauge in advance, but the history of other methadone clinics in communities around the country, and the medical results of opioid addicts in these treatment programs is all relevant, and it is not necessarily conclusive. It would seem that many make their minds up based on their worldview or their political and social views, rather than on hard data.
This Sequim Methadone Clinic Survey online is intended as a means of taking the pulse of wise citizens with a lot of life experience, and it is also a way to compile their collective wisdom and opinions with visual charts so we can all see what everyone else is thinking. Perhaps the survey results will be helpful to the decision makers. You can take the survey at:
Is This Sequim Methadone Clinic Survey Biased?
The online Sequim Methadone Clinic Survey by author Chuck Marunde has been widely accepted as a valid survey and completed by over 1,000 respondents as of this writing, but a number of people have done what is often referred to as a “drive by shooting” with a generic criticism that the “survey is biased.” Many people who completed the survey have commented they feel it is a fair survey. Is the survey biased and unfair?
First, if a person is going to attack a survey as biased, the bias in the survey should be identifiable and it should be objectively identifiable. A generic attack that a survey is biased is not valid. It is not unusual for people to attack a survey when the disagree with the survey results, but statisticians have standards of procedure in how they identify the issue to be surveyed, the questions to be asked, and the substance and form of the answers that are give as options for respondents.
Second, if a person is going to attack a survey, they really need to have the knowledge and experience to have the credibility to do so. Typically, those who are passionate about a hot issue will attack a survey by saying it is biased, but they rarely have the credentials to do so, although they almost always claim they do have the credentials to say, “The survey is obviously biased.” Just because someone writes that in an anonymous post does not mean they really do.
Third, a person who actually has a legitimate claim that a survey is biased does not usually have a legitimate claim that the entire survey is biased. A question within a survey could and often is less than 100% objective, or the answers given as options may be less than 100% objective. That doesn’t necessarily invalidate a question that may still be 95% objective, and it rarely invalidates an entire survey that may otherwise be 98% objective.
When I was a lawyer, I was fascinated with how often the average non-lawyer became a lawyer when a legal question came up. Everyone is lawyer. When someone is sick, suddenly everyone is a doctor. People who have never had children are experts in how children should be raised, and who isn’t a psychologist? You have to be licensed to charge for such services, but that doesn’t stop everyone from giving advise, even when no one asked for it.
Let’s go directly to the survey and then the questions of this survey to see if overall the survey is fair or if all the questions or the majority of them are biased.
The survey title is, “Would a Sequim Methadone Clinic Affect Your Decision to Retire and Buy a Home in Sequim?” This sets the stage for the survey content. The goal is to focus on retiring and buying a home in Sequim. This is revealed at the beginning. Surveys will often have specific purposes, and there’s nothing at all wrong with drilling down on a specific focus. With respect to the proposed clinic, a survey might be designed that would focus on the impact on community services and infrastructure. Or a survey could focus on services effecting retirees or the elderly. A survey could focus on the impact of the clinic on young families, children, or on public safety and crime. A properly designed survey could focus on a number of specific issues, but this survey focused on real estate. The title revealed that.
The first question is:
1. How did you first find out about the proposed Sequim Methadone Clinic?
This is a question that is often thought of as a qualifying question, because it simply seeks to discover on a preliminary basis how the respondent first learned about the issue. There is nothing biased about this question, and is a standard survey question.
The second question is:
2. Where do you live now?
This is also a qualifying question, but it has more significance that the first question. This is a relevant question because we want to make sure that the survey is being answered by people who have some knowledge and have a local stake in the issue. Because of the answers to this question, we can know that the people who responded had credibility to respond. Without this question, the entire survey would be less reliable. There is nothing biased about this question, and is a standard survey question.
The third question is:
3. Are you personally familiar with methadone clinics and how they work and their success/failure rates?
Again, this is a qualifying question, because we want to know if the people completing this survey (and we have not gotten to the substantive questions about the clinic yet) have any knowledge about such clinics. We really don’t want people just shooting from the hip when they answer questions. Still the answers give them the objective options to tell us precisely what their level of familiarity is. The answers here gave them totally unbiased options, whether they were favor the clinic or opposed to it. None of the answers even gave them the ability to express their preference. There is nothing biased about this question, and is a standard survey question.
The fourth question is:
4. Are you familiar with how methadone clinics have impacted other communities with regard to crime rates, homelessness, and the impact on businesses and residential home values?
This is the first of what you could call substantive questions that begins to address the core issues of contention in the community of Sequim. The question itself does not indicate any bias whatsoever. What is more important here is the options or the answers that are available to respondents.
The answers included these there options:
No, I have no idea how methadone clinics have impacted communities like Sequim.
Yes, I have discovered how other communities have been negatively impacted, and I’m not feeling good about the likely impacts on Sequim.
No one seems to know. I’d like more information before I decide.
The first and last of these three are 100% objective. An inquiring or suspicious mind might asked about the second answer. The first part is 100% objective when it says, “I have discovered how other communities have been negatively impacted.” The second part of this question is less than 100% objective when it states, “I’m not feeling good about the likely impacts on Sequim.”
Since they already as part of that question indicated they felt the impact would be negative, the second half of the question, while less than 100% objective, does not invalidate the question as a fair survey question. The respondent was not feeling positive about the impact, so it would not have added much, if anything, to their response with the latter half. In terms of objectivity, the question was objective, and the first and third answers were objective, but the second was probably between 80% and 90% objective. That would not invalidate question 4 by any means, and more importantly, it does not change the survey results.
The fifth question is:
5. Have you participated in any public meetings or public discussions about the Sequim methadone clinic?
There is nothing biased about this question, and is a standard survey question.
The sixth question is:
6. Are you in favor of the Sequim methadone clinic if you had to vote today?
This is about as objective as you can possibly get in a survey question about the clinic, and the answers are 100% objective since they are yes or no.
The seventh question is:
7. If you are a local business person, have you taken a position on the Sequim methadone clinic publicly?
This is what you could call a curiosity question. It’s just interesting to know how local business owners are handling the issue, and in no way does it invalidate the survey. The question is not indicate bias. This question could be included or excluded, and it would have no impact on the outcome of the survey.
The eighth question is:
8. If you have done research on the effectiveness of methadone clinics, what have you learned?
The question is a legitimate survey question and entirely objective in its format. The answers require more examination.
I have done no research at all on my own, and I haven’t read or viewed anyone else’s research.
I have done some of my own research, and I’ve come to the conclusion that methadone clinics are NOT effective as a means to help people get permanently off opioids.
I have done some research, and I’ve concluded that methadone clinics are an effective means to help people get off opioids permanently.
As you can see from these three questions, there is not even an iota of bias. These are 100% objective.
The ninth question is:
9. Do you think that home sales will be negatively impacted by a methadone clinic over the long run?
This is also an objective question, and notice that it has taken 8 preliminary questions to get to the first real estate question. Are the answers objective options, or do they lead a person down a pre-determined and biased path?
Yes, I do believe some retirees (a small percentage) will decide not to move to Sequim and buy a home as a result of reading about the Sequim methadone clinic.
No, I don’t think the Sequim methadone clinic will have any effect on retirees moving to Sequim and buying homes.
Once again, these two answers are 100% objective, fair, and totally unbiased.
The tenth question is:
10. Do you think the Sequim methadone clinic will have a negative impact on home prices over the years ahead?
This is a fair and unbiased question to ask a Sequim resident and anyone considering moving to Sequim. The answers were:
No, I don’t think the methadone clinic will have any impact on home prices.
Yes, I believe the methadone clinic will negatively impact home prices in the years ahead.
The question was unbiased, and the two answers are 100% objective. A respondent can share their opinion that the clinic will have no impact on home price, or they can share their opinion that the clinic will negatively impact prices. You cannot get more objective and unbiased than this.
The 11th question is:
11. If you didn’t already own a home in the Sequim area, and you were considering retiring in Sequim and buying a home, would you possibly decide not to move to Sequim if you knew there would be a methadone clinic? In other words, could the clinic have caused you to move and retire somewhere else?
This gets into one of the first really interesting questions that is revealing about how Sequim residents think. It is a fair question, because a respondent can simply say they definitely would move here. Notice the objectivity of the two answers:
Yes, I think I would have considered moving somewhere else.
No, I would have still moved to Sequim even with a methadone clinic.
The 12th question is:
12. Do you think the Sequim methadone clinic will increase the homeless population in the Sequim area?
This is an unbiased and objective question, because a person can answer yes or no. It is also valid, because the opinion of Sequim residents is a valid opinion, right or wrong.
The 13th question is:
13. In your opinion, would a Sequim methadone clinic, whether built within or outside the city limits, increase crime?
Again, you cannot get more objective than these two answers:
Yes, I believe it would increase crime over the years ahead.
No, I don’t think the crime rate would increase at all.
The 14th question is:
14. How would you describe your emotions regarding the proposed Sequim methadone clinic? (You can check one or more boxes.)
This is an interesting question, but it is merely a gauge of how locals are feeling and to some extent a measure of their passions. There are six answers with every option of emotions, so this is not by any means an unbiased question.
The 15th question is:
15. How has the way the local politicians handled this proposal and the public response affected your future behavior?
For the first time in the survey, we get to a question that could be a hot button for some respondents. This does not invalidate the question. It is still a fair question to ask, and one which politicians and most Sequimites will want to know how people responded. Let’s examine the answers:
I found out where some of the local politicians stand and what their attitude is on several matters, and their handling of this whole issue has caused me to be determined to vote against certain politicians in the future when they run for office.
This hasn’t changed anything for me. My opinion of the local politicians is the same, and my votes will not be changed either.
The answers are 100% objective. You can state one or the other. There is no bias whatsoever in this question or the two answers.
The 16th question:
16. The local tribe has been involved heavily in the promotion of the methadone clinic. How do you feel about that?
This question on the tribe’s involvement and how people feel is definitely a hot button in the Sequim area. The question itself is not 100% objective, not in it’s content, but in it’s selection for this survey. But it still may be 95% objective, which means it is not by any means an invalid survey question. Let’s look at the questions:
I’m thankful for the tribe’s endorsement and involvement.
The tribe’s strong endorsement of the clinic surprised me. I’ve always been very positive about the tribe, and I’ve boasted about what a great job they do with their businesses and their positive impact in the community, but this has turned my attitude about the tribe. I’m not happy with the tribe at all for their strong endorsement of this clinic. This will affect how I feel about the tribe in the future.
Again, we have two answers that should please both proponents and opponents of the clinic. The first answer caters to those who are in favor, and the second question to those who oppose, but it isn’t enough to know why they oppose the tribe’s involvement. We want to know more, so the answer states what many Sequim residents have been saying for years, that they are pleased with the tribe’s operations and community involvement. That’s a positive thing, and it reiterates what many Sequimites have been saying for years. To further gauge their feelings, the answer goes on to see if they are unhappy with the tribe for their “strong endorsement for this clinic.” There’s no factual question that the tribe has strongly endorsed the clinic, so that is not biased. Whether people are unhappy with the tribe is the issue, and that means this question cannot be invalidated either. What this question does so well is bring to opposing issues together for respondents. On the one hand they love the tribe, but on the other hand they are not happy with the tribe promoting the clinic. This is certainly a legitimate survey issue and question. It may be less than 100% objective on statistical grounds, but even so, it is unbiased and a valid question for this survey.
The 17th question is:
17. Do you feel the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is being hypocritical in supporting the methadone clinic when they currently promote addictive and potentially dangerous activities, including gambling at their casino, alcohol sales at the casino and at their stores and restaurants, and the sale of marijuana at their new cannabis store?
This question is much more difficult to evaluate from a statistical perspective. This question is fraught with emotion for people who don’t like the overwhelming survey results against the clinic (80% of 1,043 respondents against the clinic). This is one of the challenges of any survey on a hot issue. People in favor of the overwhelming survey results will say it seemed fair, and people who are passionately opposed to the overwhelming survey results will immediately claim the survey is biased. That’s par for the course.
Just because the tribe’s involvement is a hot topic, and just because alcohol and marijuana are hot topics, does not alone invalidate this question. It is a valid topic, even if some people don’t want this issue addressed. The relationship of alcohol and marijuana to the methadone clinic is a valid topic for a survey. The answers establish how fair this question is and how unbiased the answers are:
Yes, because three serious addiction problems that often lead to drug abuse include 1.) gambling, 2.) alcohol, and 3.) the gateway drug marijuana.
No, I don’t see any contradiction or hypocrisy.
Clearly someone who is in favor of the clinic and sincerely feels there is no connection, can simply answer “No, I don’t see any contradiction or hypocrisy.” Notice the author of the survey did not bias the survey with leading questions that only lead to once conclusion. The answers as well as the questions have clearly been drafted to be unbiased.
The 18th question is:
18. In your personal opinion and from your life experience, would you say this methadone clinic is a done deal?
This question is less than 100% objective, but it is necessary. That does not make it invalid. It only means it is only 90% or 95% objective. Realize that few questions are 100% objective, so 95% is not bad on a survey. Why such a question on this survey? Because many Sequim residents feel like there has been a lot of underhanded dealing for a long time without telling them until recently what these plans are. Rumors abound about how long they have been working on getting approval for the clinic without letting the information get out to local residents, but some are saying it was 3 years while others say it has been 5 years of secret conversations between the tribe, the council, key Seattle clinic advisors, and we all know that it takes a long time to get a grant approved for something like this. Years, not months. With that in mind, this question addresses concerns that Sequim residents have. Do they feel this is a done deal? Under the circumstances, their opinion is valid. We are entitled to learn their opinion, even if some don’t like it. Notice how fair the two answers are:
Yes, I think this has been in the works for years, and those in power and those who stand to make money all have planned this, so it’s a done deal. They aren’t asking for our opinion. They’re just trying to get past the political fallout and move forward with their “project.”
No, not at all. People are far too cynical. This clinic is going to help victims of opioids, and we should be compassionate and help as many people as we can.
The first answer does involve people who are cynical, but the second answer involves people who think “People are too cynical. This clinic is going to help victims of opioids, and we should be compassionate and help as many people as we can.”
You cannot get more objective than giving those in favor of the clinic an opportunity to respond with such a powerful answer.
The 19th question is:
19. Some local Sequim residents have talked about boycotting the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe businesses? Are you one who would might boycott the tribe’s businesses or activities?
This question touches again on the frustrations many Sequim residents are feeling toward the tribe. The responses indicate it is a legitimate and not a made up issue for this survey. It is a valid question, despite that some wish it had never been asked, because they don’t want everyone to see the overwhelming response, which is either yes or no.
The 20th question is:
20. Do you think just selecting a location outside the City of Sequim would solve all your concerns?
Some have discussed trying to get the clinic built outside the Sequim city limits or in another location, so this question is very appropriate. What is astonishing is that as of this writing, 91% have responded that moving the clinic would not alleviate their concerns. This is an unbiased question, and the answer is very important for all of us to observe.
As if these questions were not objective enough and unbiased, all respondents got one more question:
21. If you could summarize your opinion of the Sequim methadone clinic in just a sentence or a short paragraph, what would you say?
This is where respondents had an opportunity to narrate any issues or concerns or answers they wanted. How many surveys give you that opportunity? Very few.
In conclusion, this survey is fair, unbiased, and statistically sound. The survey results have been made available to all respondents and to everyone online in real time at no cost to anyone. The survey author, the questions, and the approach and over 1,000 responses have all been transparent and conducted under the highest standards of honesty and integrity.
I, Chuck Marunde, do hereby swear that I am the author of the survey, and have to the best of my ability provided the citizens of the Sequim area a valid and unbiased survey regarding the Sequim Methadone Clinic. The survey results speak for themselves.
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