Concerns Regards Flashpoll 1

I am a retired Manager of Market Research and PD Patient. I wish to express my concerns regarding the research structure of the Flashpoll. The questioned asked is "Do you believe there is a role for cannabis and ecstasy in the treatment of PD?" Usual way to assess belief is to measure your agreement with the stated proposition. on a balanced scale....Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Neither Agree or Disagree, Somewhat Disagree . Strongly Disagree. The scale used has three positive statements to one negative, where is the balance? Scale used Definitely, Probably, Possibly. Definitely not, Other. Further, the answer one marks is NOT A MEASURE OF ONES BELIEF IN ROLE FOR CANNABIS AND ESTASY. The scale measures a DIFFERENT QUESTION OR PROPOSITON. The scale asked about your response to a different reads for example "Definitely -- I think the evidence is overwhelming" "Probably -- I think the evidence is strong" "Possibly -- I am not sure of the evidence" (you believe in a role, but are not sure about the evidence?) "Definitely not -- there is no evidence" (you don't believe in a role, because there is no evidence) There could be several reasons for one's lack of belief in a role for cannabis or ecstasy in PD Treatment. That there is "no evidence" is as most PD Patients would know is an untrue statement.

If a poll respondent selected Definitely Not, this negative belief regards the proposition is associated with an untrue statement, suggesting a reason to discount this statement belief as unreasonable. Briefly my concern is that the Flashpoll asks one question and answers another, while using an unbalanced to measure the outcome. Personally, I am disappointed that Parkinson's Movement is associated which such a measurement instrument as this flashpoll.


17 Replies

  • Dear Bill David,

    Thanks for your comments on the flash poll. If I can, I will clear up a couple of things. Firstly, the question itself uses cannabis and ecstasy as examples (e.g.) rather than sole representatives of the group. I did not want to assume that everyone was familiar with the term recreational drugs.

    Secondly, I think you have misread the choices offered which were DEFINITELY, PROBABLY, POSSIBLY, PROBABLY NOT, DEFINITELY NOT and OTHER. What you may have looked at by mistake with the results. Since nobody had answered "probably not" it did not show up in the results. I think that may be the source of your confusion.

    To my mind that provides clear balance between two positive, two negative and a neutral position. I said we consider "possibly" to be a neutral position.

    I acknowledge your thoughts on this matter. Certainly, the terminology that you suggest is more conventional. I lose track of the number of questionnaires I personally have completed with those choices. However, and with all due respect, I would argue that there is more than one way of asking questions.

    As I'm sure you would agree, belief and evidence are closely related. We believe in something when we consider the evidence to be sufficient. Similarly we do not believe in something when we believe the evidence is lacking. What we consider to be evidence is of course personal. Nonetheless the statement stands.

    Best regards,


  • Jon, popularity of an idea, and the truth of an idea are two different things. With all respect, I find this flashpoll to be without any scientific value whatsoever. Galileo said it best: "In questions of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual." The vast bulk of your respondents--myself included--are bound to be "fools" about this question since we are uninformed. I fail to see what you hope to accomplish by a poll of this kind. Politicians in a democratic society per force attend to collective opinion, but intelligent researchers look for better guidance. No one in his right mind is going to devote millions of dollars to research a potential cure just because "the people" like him to do so.

  • Dear Dumpelkin,

    thanks for your thoughts on this. I suspect I probably needed to give a more specific context to these polls than I did (you did read my post yesterday about the flashpollls, right?).

    Let me put a little more flesh on the bones. Just in case you didn't see my post, this is the first of seven Flash polls and, I hope that the collective information will make more sense and not to be "without any scientific value whatsoever" (ouch!).

    I think, if you were to be fair to me, you would concede that I have not stated that we're looking to divert millions of dollars of research.

    To give you more details still, the rationale behind these polls is this. I've been asked by the editors of a supplement of the journal Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry to write a review article on the possible utility of drugs of abuse in Parkinson's. As part of that, I thought it would be interesting to do a few simple straw polls on the attitude of patients to such treatments to help provide a broad context.

    Incidentally, I don't recall equating popularity and truth. If I had done so, Galileo would be right to rebuke me! I made clear that "What we consider to be evidence is of course personal".

    Best regards,


  • Jon,

    Thank you for your response. That puts a different light on the matter. But in my limited experience, it is the short-reposnse/essay type questions, that yield much more meaningful insight than multiple-choice questions. Except for a small subset of questions, using the latter is similar to trying to open a swiss watch with a crowbar. The is a trade-off between the brevity, discreteness and tidiness of the answers, on the one hand, and the quality of the information obtained, on the other. In using multiple choice, we maximize tidiness, and sacrifice meaning or nuance. In short answers, vice-versa.

    All best, dumpelkin

  • Jon

    I hold a PhD in Counseling Psychology, if you are doing this for a Scientific Journal, the article most likely will be peer reviewed. I am very concerned that you are going down a road you are not really going to like! Go to whom ever put this in motion, and get their approval of any measurement instrument you use in the projected article.


  • I think it is the wording..rather than the poll itself. It just needs to be rewritten, not eliminated.


  • I agree. The poll is very badly written. Is it useful for some people? Is it never useful? Is it something that should have research? Would I be opposed to research? Am I neutral? etc etc

    A yes or ridiculous and answers nothing.


    Costa Rica

  • Hi BillDavid. I agree


  • BillDavid (and Dumplekin), rather than engaging in a pedantic exercise of self-importance, I'd recommend you double your usual dosage of chill pills (recreational) then do a quick review of the definition of the word "poll". Unless you're the author, you have the option of participating, or not participating - end of story. Questioning the objective or demanding that it conform to the rigors of a prospective scientific study are above your pay-grade (despite your PhD).

  • From Gallup: Copyright © 2007 The Gallup Organization, Princeton, NJ. All rights reserved.2For more information, contact Eric Nielsen, Senior Director of Media Strategies, The Gallup Organization, at

    What's a public opinion poll?

    A scientific, nonbiased public opinion poll is a type of survey or inquiry designed to measure the public's views regarding a particular topic or series of topics. Trained interviewers ask questions of people chosen at random from the population being measured. Responses are given, and interpretations are made based on the results. It is important in a random sample that everyone in the population being studied has an equal chance of participating. Otherwise, the results could be biased and, therefore, not representative of the population. Representative samples are chosen in order to make generalizations about a particular population being studied.

    How are scientific polls different from other polls?

    When a radio or TV station asks its listeners to call in to vote on a particular issue, the results of this activity are not scientific because the sample is not representative. The sample reflects only the people who happen to be watching or listening to the show and are motivated to call in. This cannot be generalized to represent the whole population because the respondents were not randomly selected, and therefore, they are not representative.

  • Wow,,, now i remember why i got divorced,,, She could not seem to remember "Who I Thought I Was."

  • Point well taken.You have reminded me of an old joke: "Now that I'm married, I don't have to worry about what I do; my spouse does it for me." Just like that here: The thought police (m--c--) stand ready to chastise us if we have an errant thought or writing. I love Big Brother!

  • I stand to be corrected but last time I looked recreational drugs "such as cannabis and ectasy" were illegal, presumably for a good reason. That's why I did not finish the poll. I understand that in some countries cannabis, under quality control, is prescribed as a proven help for pain. This would be a completely different question. Regarding the politeness or otherwise of the previous replies, the words pot and kettle come to mind!!

  • In the province of BC, hospitalizations as a consequence of alcohol abuse have just exceeded, for the first time, those related to tobacco. Alcohol related admissions alone exceed all other drug, illegal or not, related admissions. The good reasons for cannabis being illegal have a lot more to do with political expediency than rational thinking. Let's keep our minds open to something that may help. We have all taken, are still taking some nasty stuff. I am not enjoying the side effects of my meds, Are you?

  • It seems to me that Jon is very clear about this being a "straw poll"...a quick bit of pulse taking within the PD community. I find the questions inclusive of everyone who might answer...and with opportunity to comment, one can also provide more information and ask question. This is not a rigorous scientific study, nor is PM going to be publishing this raw data in one. It is trying to get a sense of how we a community that has membership ranging from regular users of recreational drugs...(and I feel alcohol and tobacco need to lumped in here, too ) to those very against their for political/legal/health reasons. Considering what most of us have to swallow each day in order to move, eat, sleep, poop and battle depression, if a taste of the herb could help reduce either the number of pill in my life and or mitigate my symptoms...yay! This is a first probing step into finally allowing an honest , open discussion into something that matters to many of us. I really don't want it shut down by criticism now. If you don't want to be part of the discussion, take yourself out of it. But please, let's continue it. Thank you, Jon.

  • This is a really interesting poll. In fact I feel it could be turned into at least 2 polls - one for marijuana and one for ecstacy/MDMA and all the rest. I'm certainly not convinced that MDMA has any positive effects (see Dr George Ricaurte's studies on dopamine damage caused by MDMA) however there is a huge amount of anecdotal evidence regarding the benefits of medical (and/or recreational) marijuana. One of the first books I read after my own diagnosis was Richard Secklin's 'Marijuana for Parkinson's Disease'.

  • Jon

    I have been answering your Straw poles for ever. However I feel that Possibly is not neutral in this context. It seems to me that Possibly has a disposition towards positive not neutral . Don't know would be a more suitable choice or better yet" not well enough informed."


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