“Background. Research. Reliable sources. Contacts. Credibility! Many blogs could be questioned on some or all of those factors.” – Eric Smith
Let’s start with Q Score’s themselves. I swapped some emails with Caryn Portnoy, media relations @ Q Score. In her words:
“The results are from Q Scores’ Summer 2010 Performer Q Study, which is based on a nationally representative sample of 1800 respondents six years of age and older. All demographic groups by age and sex, education and income segments, race and ethnicity are properly represented based on the most recent U.S. Census data. The results of this study measure the familiarity and likeability of approximately 1750 personalities, which included a subset of 198 sports personalities.”
Pretty straight forward, right? She continues to explain,
“Each respondent is asked to indicate their opinion of each celebrity they are familiar with (based on everything they have seen, read or heard about the celebrity) – the scale ranges from “one of my favorites” to “very good” to “good” to “fair” or a “poor “ rating. We produce a Positive Q Score to indicate likeability (which is based on the top box rating “one of my favorites”) and a Negative Q Score to indicate dislike (which is based on the “fair” and “poor” ratings)”
To summarize, Q Score takes an exact cross section of America based on the most recent census data and using several demographic groups they ask 1800 people their opinion of 198 athletes on a scale between the high end “One of My favorites” and the low end “Poor”.
Now let’s take a look at Eric Smith’s post.
Question to Caryn Portnoy - Is your study or was your study ever titled or subtitled or was the term “Most Hated” ever referenced in your materials in reference to negative Q scores received by athletes?
Answer (copied and pasted) “WE DO NOT MEASURE HATRED – that is a term the media have used to INCORRECTLY cite our Negative Q Scores – which measure dislike, not hatred.”
Well this is awkward. Mostly because Smith references the title of his post “Most Hated” 5 times:
“Favre’s sins are nowhere near as bad as Roethlisberger’s but his ongoing saga is ‘hated’ indeed.”
“The Steelers QB appears 8th on the Most Hated list”
“I have no doubt that LeBron is ‘hated’ by many”
“Owens and Ochocinco being included in this list — and appearing so high — is beyond me. ‘Disliked’ for their bravado and arrogance, sure. But HATED? C’mon. “
“That still doesn’t change the fact that this “Most Hated” list could be racially-skewed”
Hatred was never mentioned in the survey. It wasn’t an option. LeBron James is between ‘one of my favorites’ and ‘I think poorly of him’. That’s the range. That’s it. Further to this, I asked Eric via twitter “does the survey still have racist undertones if people just dislike players as opposed to hating them?”. His answer, “fair question. i don’t know the answer to that.”
I think that Eric read about this survey online, did no fact checking, proceeded to connect “hate” with “racism” and rushed out a post. Oddly, I find myself agreeing with him in that I think it’s highly probable that racist attitudes will have played a part in these results but we’ve come to our conclusions in very different ways. What he’s implying is that, had all of the racists been weeded out as respondents to this survey, the Q Score results would look much different. To that I say, sure, why not? Here’s the thing. The Q survey is an important and well respected marketing survey. This is an evaluation tool that marketers use to measure the public’s perception of celebrities. Remember, the survey measures the opinions of a perfect cross section of America. An 11 year old Hispanic girl from Philadelphia that lives in a home with a combined income of 300k? Check. A 62 year old white grandma on a fixed income in Reno? Check. A 40 year old homosexual African American male in Bismark? Check. Guess who’s also included in that great melting pot? Racists. And not just the casual ones who tell inappropriate jokes, the real hardcore fuckers too. The ones who burn crosses and read web pages that get you put on FBI watch lists. We know they’re in there somewhere and their opinions matter because they buy just as much Gatorade as you and I do. If brands don’t know which celebrity endorsers the racists like they can’t effectively sell them more Gatorade. Nobody likes racists except for other racists but everyone who’s selling something loves their money.
That Smith and I have both come to the same conclusion in no way lets him off the hook. He’s right, there are racial undertones but they don’t skew anything. Skewing implies that the results are tainted in some way by racist attitudes. While we all (except for the racists) agree that racism is disgusting, it’s a fact that the results are accurate because they include racist attitudes. Sadly, Smith doesn’t actually believe his own rhetoric because later in this piece he contradicts his own lede with:
“That (accurate demographics) still doesn’t change the fact that this “Most Hated” list could be racially-skewed”
Now the list “COULD BE” racial skewed? It took Smith 500 words to go from “Yes the results are racially skewed” to “the list could be racially skewed”. I know that it’s a minor difference in language but that difference speaks volumes. Furthermore, he casually hints that the Q Score people themselves are in some way crooked.
“I’m a bit bewildered as to how James makes it onto this list if the survey was conducted, as we’re lead to believe, in March 2010.”
As we’re lead to believe? Why would Q Scores make this up? Does Smith have any idea how well respected this company is? How important their data is? How quickly their entire business would implode if marketers knew they were fudging numbers?
“Many, including me, smell something fishy going on here and many of us have theorized that if this survey was conducted in primarily African-American homes or neighbourhoods the results may have been different.”
Yeah, no shit the results would be different if you asked the same questions to a different set of people. What Smith is smelling however is not fish. It’s proven statistical research based on a rock solid methodology and it smells just fine.
In the end, I have no idea why Favre and Big Ben are not in the top 5 and Chad85 and Terrell Owens are. I have no idea why LeBron is up there. I honestly don’t care. There are an infinite number of possibilities as to why the results are what they are and some of these possibilities may have to do with racial biases. It remains, that nobody that participated in this study hates anything. This is a huge distinction. For Smith to title his post and build his non-existent argument based on the premise that people said they ‘hated’ certain players is a gross miss-representation of the facts. That he’s blindly questioned Q Score’s business based on a hunch is ridiculous. He’s ambushed the Q Survey and held it captive for his own purposes, mostly to stir shit up and create a controversy that can be discussed during his talk radio call in show.
“An internet connection and an opinion can be a dangerous thing.” –Eric Smith
Once again, I agree.