What a nonsense!!! Surely if an organisation such as “Readers Digest” is going to come up with what purports to be an authoritative list of the most trusted people in our nation they have some responsibility to use a method that is equitable. To present a list of people of somewhat questionable ‘notoriety’ or popular recognition undermines the process from the start. Of course they then start the questionnaire (that they offered to only 735 NZ adults!!) with a question as to whether or not you know who the candidate is. Fair enough, you surely should know who you trust! But then the curly bit is that if you say you don’t know who the person is, your opinion is discounted, and the ‘trustedness’ of the candidate, on a 1-to-10 scale is measured from the responses of the remaining voters who do know who the person is. Seems reasonable on the face of it, but how reasonable is it that our (supposedly) most trusted NZer, scientist Sir Ron Avery, was decided from the votes of just 34% of the 735 polled?
I think, if I were trying to come up with a truly representative list of ‘trusted’ people, I would firstly extend the range of people to be polled ensuring a good representation of all stratas of our society, and then I would give each person a (reasonable) period of time to create their own list of their 10 (or 100) most trusted in order from most to tenth (hundredth) most. This would then mean that everybody would know everyone they were voting for, and the range of ‘candidates’ would be decided by New Zealand’s ‘rank and file’ and not by a committee of clevers. The ultimate list of 100, or however many it is felt is appropriate would better represent how Kiwis felt about who should be their icons, role models and from whom they would buy a used car! (You never know, Sir Ron might have a nice range in Japanese imports!)