Let me start out by saying that I like Lucy. However, that being said, I am not a fan of her pet project from this past week. Separating sex from its fundamental context makes for an incomplete collection and subsequent analysis of data.
As most of you know from first-hand-experience or by word-or-mouth, Lucy Orsi conducted an online survey about sex this past week. I write this article having taken the survey – although I did not see a certain set of questions. Not surprisingly, the survey spurred both controversy and applause. However, the root issue for me was not the survey itself, but the context in which it was taken.
See, the idea of the survey itself is inert – neither right nor wrong. This is because (as many academics believe) data collection itself is amoral. None of the questions on the survey put anyone in danger or directly revealed their identity. The survey itself was neither harmful nor, quite frankly, even very offensive.
However, since surveys are written to produce certain data, they have an obligation to be complete. This one was not.
Lucy’s survey was subjective, and thus left out a number of important items, including options for being married, engaged, transsexual, asexual, bisexual, etc. However, my key issue with Lucy’s survey is the context in which it was delivered: sex as an outfit that we can take on or off as we please. I wholeheartedly disagree.
Sex, like religion, is something at the core of who we are. In fact, I would argue that since sex is intricately tied to what we believe about God – and therefore, what we believe about ourselves – completely omitting a question about religion or morality takes sex out of context, and therefore produces data that can have no foundational basis, nor lasting impact.
This reason – the lack of fundamental context in which the survey was conducted – leads me to say that, in its incomplete form, the survey itself should not have been conducted at all. What we do makes up who we are – and who we are cannot be removed from what we believe about God.
February 10, 2015 @ 5:16 pm Mark
Interesting thoughts! I agree that discussing sex without discussing the “why” of sex, and the religious context of that why is very incomplete.
February 10, 2015 @ 5:33 pm Alex
You say a lot of things in this article that are entirely untrue. My sister has a degree in communications, has worked a job for several years that involves a lot of analysis of surveys, and can say that some of your statements are false.
First, surveys don’t have an obligation to be “complete.” You can survey a particular subject. You can survey a particular gender, or you can survey a particular race, opinion, etc. A survey is constructed to find out some sort of information about something. It has no obligation to be complete (in fact some surveys are conducted that specifically DO NOT want information from a particular group of people). A survey is designed to try to gather information about something. If this survey were to be “complete” in your eyes, it would have had to ask what brand of shoes I buy. Or what brand of noodles I buy at the grocery store. That is absurd.
Second, it is YOUR idea that sex is intrinsically related to God. Just because you seem to be upset (your emotion is showing, and you state many of your opinions as if they were universally accepted facts) about the survey not asking about God doesn’t mean it is a failed survey that should not have been conducted. You just WANTED there to be a question about God. That in no way means that there SHOULD HAVE been questions about God. You are completely ignoring the fact that maybe the person who wrote the survey specifically didn’t want religion to be included. You say it’s your opinion that sex is intrinsically related to God, but that might not be the opinion of many other people, and that may not have been the idea behind the survey.
Third, a minor detail, you say that bisexuality and certain types of non heterosexuality wasn’t included in the survey. This is so false I could cry. The most previous article on this website literally has a figure that clearly shows bisexuality was included in the survey. It also includes some sexualities such as pansexual and “other.” So actually, those options were included. Get your facts straight.
Fourth, you say something about the survey lacking in context. This is once again your idea of what you thought the survey should have included. Whoever wrote the survey may have wanted this survey to be lacking in context. Just raw data. Who says they wanted to try and show correlation between religion and sex? What if the writer was only looking for correlation between sex activity and majors, regardless of religion or marital status? You don’t HAVE to look at religion or marital status to see how many people of what major have what amounts of sex. That is up to the writer.
Overall, it looks like you are critiquing the survey based on what you think it should have included. But that’s the thing. You didn’t write the survey. The writer wrote it exactly how they wanted to write it, and the fact that you disapprove of it only confirms the fact that it did exactly what it was supposed to do. It gathered data about certain subjects. It just happened to not gather data about the subjects you thought it should have included.
If you want a survey that includes religion and is all including and includes morality, then you write a sex survey, and I promise I’ll write an article that berates you for not including some small detail that I PERSONALLY thought was important.
February 14, 2015 @ 3:21 pm Tyler
To begin, I do appreciate your commentary on this article and I agree that you’ve effectuated many concerns and possible problems with Holly’s response. However, like Holly’s article there are several claims in your response that are also “entirely untrue” and invalidate the claims you’ve made. To be transparent, I also align with Holly’s theological understanding, and I assume you do not. I will do my best to remove my bias from the following, which is – of course – not entirely possible.
First, a question, did your sister prepare your response on your behalf? If not, then HER degree in communications with experience at “a job for several years that involves a lot of analysis of surveys” does nothing to convince me of YOUR knowledge on the subject.
My response to your claims:
1) I agree that surveys do not have an obligation to be “complete” by your exhaustive definition. Unfortunately, you’ve misinterpreted Holly’s definition, which, based on my interpretation, was defined by the INTENT of the sex survey. So then, what was the intent of the sex survey? I would argue that the survey was intended to poll and accurately represent the student body at Mines; sexual orientations, gender identifications, academic and sexual trends (including WHY students are having/not having sex), etc. The “why” is where the survey is lacking. The survey has done a very good job of representing the majority of the student body in a variety of perspectives, but has entirely underrepresented, or rather not represented at all, the religious community on campus. Considering an article immediately written in response to the survey by the Editor-in-Chief about the “other” category, representing less than 10% of the student population, it is safe to say then that the underrepresentation of religious followers on campus also deserves its fair representation. As such, for the survey to be complete in the context of the intent of the survey, a question about religion should have been included.
2) If you’re suggesting that the emotional state of a writer discredits their entire editorial, then I shouldn’t have bothered reading your post. Holly wanted there to be a question about God just as much as you don’t want there to be, so to this point I abstain. After speaking with the person who wrote the survey, after they read Holly’s post, I can tell you that they wished questions about religion had been included. It is indeed Holly’s viewpoint, as it is mine and many religious followers on campus, that sex is intrinsically related to God. A question about this belief in the survey would have illuminated this perspective immediately; no debate necessary.
3) I hope you didn’t cry too much. If you took the survey, or read Lucy’s article carefully, you would have found that the only “options” (aka “check the box”) for relationship status were “Single, In a committed relationship, and In an open relationship,” for sexual orientation were “Heterosexual, Homosexual, and Bisexual,” and for gender were “Female and Male.” As you can see, Holly made a mistake in saying an option for “bisexual” identification was not included. However, she was correct on the others categories. In each of these cases a fill-in-the-blank answer was allowed, but this is inadequate and potentially biased. An example: if a student is engaged, do they check the box for “In a committed relationship” or do they fill in the blank with “Engaged?” This causes problems with defining demographics for comparison, because some engaged students may have checked the box for “In a committed relationship” and were subsequently grouped into a category that assumes dating relationships not engagement. Conclusions based on the question of relationship status may then be incorrectly drawn.
4) I have little to say on your fourth point, as I mostly agree. However, because the survey does lack the context of religion, conclusions drawn by students about the behavior of their peers based on virginity, for example, lack context. Students may assume that other students who are virgins are not doing so by choice and that their virginity is not intentional. This is a conclusion I have heard other student express in the past. Simple questions such as “are you a virgin by choice?” and “is that choice based upon religion?” would help illuminate reasons for student’s sexual activity. I would find it hard to disagree with this suggestion.
It concerns me that you consider religion to be a “small detail” when 73% of Americans identified themselves as Christians in 2012 (according to Pew Research Center). I think it’s obvious that this figure does not hold for the population at Mines or that all Christians hold the same beliefs, but nevertheless, I would think that someone who, assumingly, is opposed to religion would know this and be curious about the behavior of the demographic. Even if you’re not curious, I’d imagine many students and faculty at Mines, who tend to draw their conclusion based on data not other’s beliefs, would be interested.
Finally, of course Holly is critiquing the survey based on her opinion; it’s an OPINION EDITORIAL…
February 19, 2015 @ 10:51 pm Jake
Your response was rather rude and emotional. Obviously you are emotionally attached to this subject, but you cannot let this emotion show when talking about an objective topic such as data collection.
Miss Stewart decided to impose her beliefs upon the survey because she wasn’t asked a question she would have asked. Her strong-headed belief that the survey was ineffective due to a lack of religion questions says more about her lack of confidence in her own beliefs than anything else. For some people religion could be important when talking about sexy time, but for others there is no place for god between the sheets. I for one don’t like the feel of the bible between the naughty bits, but that is just me. Holly has taken something personal, and so have you Tyler, when there was nothing to actually take personally. Do not force your beliefs onto other people, but I guess you do have a right to express your opinion and so do I.
Some things upset us, get over it. And albeit my own response could be considered rude, but then again I’m not talking about the data collection. I’m talking about the people talking about the data collection.
February 19, 2015 @ 11:08 pm Jake
Btw is the reason you are emotionally attached to this subject due to the fact you are currently engaged to Miss Stewart? If so I can understand a little more as to the why, but it certainly detracts from the credibility of your argument because, just like the survey, it’s all about sex. If this is a different tyler, then my b.
February 10, 2015 @ 10:25 pm Vickie
Could not disagree more. A discussing of sex does not need a “why” behind it without turning this scientific, context-less survey into something sociological or anthropological. Some people choose a religious context while others do not. Context is subjective. The person who wrote the survey was probably trying to be objective.
Alex pretty much nailed it.
February 11, 2015 @ 11:45 am Joelle
Hey Holly, I am totally on your side. I wanted to write a long comment at the end of the survey about being married undergraduate myself (I ended up writing a shorter comment after talking to my husband, lol 😉 ) and actually ended up not responding to certain questions because I didn’t want to be included in that particular statistic. Including questions regarding a respondent’s context for sex would have definitely been a valuable addition to the survey, and I think it is an important subject to bear in mind when trying to draw more subjective conclusions from the survey as well, rather than just numbers. Thank you for expressing your alternative opinion on this topic!
February 20, 2015 @ 10:04 am Jeff Daye
This is an absolutely absurd piece. At first when I was reading it I though that it was satyrical, but, unfortunately, I’ve realized that it is just comically bad. However, that being said (I needed bring attention to these redundant terms being written in succession in the second sentence) kudos to the Ore Digger staff for allowing a counter piece to be written. However, THAT being said, it doesn’t really seem like it was edited either, but something so terrible is funnier when it has both inconsistent content and grammar. Motion to add a Religious Opinion section to the Ore Digger.