IN THE ARTICLE "Just Like Us! Really?" (May 12) Robert Satloff reviews findings from the Gallup Press book Who Speaks for Islam? by Dr. John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed.
Satloff states that comments in his piece attributed to Mogahed were transcribed from an event hosted by his own Washington Institute for Near East Policy. When one listens to the audio from the event (posted on his website), it becomes apparent that he either: (a) failed to check the quote against the actual audio recording, or (b) purposely fabricated a quote to suit his needs.
Satloff writes in his piece, supposedly quoting Mogahed:
"Yes, we can say that a Four is not that moderate ... I don't know ... You are writing a book, you are trying to come up with terminology people can understand. ... You know, maybe it wasn't the most technically accurate way of doing this, but this is how we made our cluster-based analysis." [emphasis added].
So, there it is--the smoking gun. Mogahed publicly admitted they knew certain people weren't moderates but they still termed them so. She and Esposito cooked the books and dumbed down the text.
Listening to the audio recording, her actual response is this:
Now terming a Four moderate, yes, we can certainly agree that probably, they're not very moderate if they're saying four to that question. It was, I mean, I don't know, you're writing a book, you're trying to use terminology people understand, you know, it wasn't maybe the most technically perfect word, I will admit, but that's how we broke the two groups apart. It was really data-driven based on this cluster analysis. [emphasis added].
Clearly, Mogahed's actual statement critiques the choice of one word, saying the word "moderate" may not have been "technically perfect." Satloff's false attribution claims she called the entire data analysis inaccurate. The decision to break out the groups was driven by the data analysis and the distinct differences that the analyses showed between groups. Satloff is welcome to disagree with the analysis, but manufacturing a quote to make one's point has no place in a reasoned and scholarly discussion.
Senior Director, Media Strategies
ROBERT SATLOFF RESPONDS
I welcome Nielsen's suggestion that readers listen to the full account of the exchange with Mogahed (at http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC07.php?CID=376). When they do, they will hear Mogahed say of the term "moderate" that it "wasn't maybe the most technically perfect word" to describe poll respondents who somewhat justified 9/11. I thank him for fixing the trivial errors in the transcription.
In so doing, I thank him too for underscoring a central critique of the book, i.e., that Gallup's coauthors defined poll respondents who somewhat justified 9/11 as "radicals" in their 2006 Foreign Policy article and then redefined them--all 200 million of them--as "moderates" for their book. This is not a case of analytical disagreement among scholars; this is a case of "I-was-for-it before-I-was-against-it" chicanery.
There's one more reason to thank Nielsen for urging readers to listen to the original exchange with Mogahed: When they do, they will first have the opportunity to hear my Washington Institute colleague Dr. David Pollock summarizing his aptly titled new study, "Slippery Polls: Uses and Abuses of Opinion Surveys from Arab States.": Eric Nielsen must have pulled the short straw when it came to deciding who at Gallup would defend Who Speaks for Islam? in print. The authors, John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, clearly preferred not to do the job themselves, and Gallup didn't send up to the plate anyone with actual responsibility for publishing a book riddled with mistakes and laced with sleight-of-hand. Instead, they sent in the media spinmeister.