The folks over at Pew Research usually do pretty good work, but they decided to weigh in on the Apple / FBI backdoor debate by asking a really dumb poll question -- the results of which are now being used to argue that the public supports the FBI over Apple by a pretty wide margin.
But, of course, as with everything in polling, the questions you ask and how you phrase them are pretty much everything. And here's the thing. The question asked was:
As you may know, RANDOMIZE: [the FBI has said that accessing the iPhone is an important part of their ongoing investigation into the San Bernardino attacks] while [Apple has said that unlocking the iPhone could compromise the security of other users’ information] do you think Apple [READ; RANDOMIZE]?
(1) Should unlock the iPhone (2) Should not unlock the iPhone (3) Don't Know.
But that's not the issue in this case!
As noted in the past, when it's possible for Apple to get access to data, it has always done so in response to lawful court orders. That's similar to almost every other company as well. This case is different because it's not asking Apple to "unlock the iPhone." The issue is that Apple cannot unlock the iPhone and thus, the FBI has instead gotten a court order to demand that Apple create an entirely new operating system that undermines the safety and security of iPhones, so that the FBI can hack into the iPhone. That's a really different thing.
And it does a massive disservice by Pew to (1) ask the wrong question and then (2) make people think that the public supports the FBI's view when Pew itself misrepresented the issues in the case in the first place. And of course, the mainstream media, like the Washington Post (who normally is better than this) puts out a bullshit story claiming that "Apple is fighting a war most Americans don't believe in." But that's not what the poll actually says. You'd think that reporters might actually take the time to understand the story and the poll first, but apparently that's too difficult, as compared to the easy, if misleading headline.
As Ed Snowden himself pointed out, this is nothing more than misinformation:
Pew poll finds when the government misinforms the public, the public is misinformed. Scientists baffled. https://t.co/8LcRg7ismw
But even that's not entirely accurate. In this case, it really seems like the fault is with Pew for asking a misleading question over an issue that is not up for debate here. And the press is similarly at fault for running with it and appearing to not understand either. Yes, the government is partially responsible for being misleading, but in this case, I'd put them third in line behind Pew and reporters. If people were accurately informed and actually understood the real issues, the poll would likely be quite different. But Pew didn't bother to understand the issue, and asked a questions that totally misrepresents the issue to the point that the results are actually completely meaningless to the ongoing debate.
Ever since Larry Lessig announced his campaign for the Presidency a few months ago, we noted that it wasn't just a long shot, but seemed more like a gimmick to get the (very real) issue of political corruption into the debates. I like Larry quite a bit and support many of his efforts, but this one did seem kind of crazy. I'm glad that he's willing to take on crazy ideas to see if they'll work, because that's how real change eventually comes about, but the whole thing did seem a bit quixotic. That said, the last thing I expected was that the Democratic Party would be so scared of him as to flat out lie and change the rules to keep his ideas from reaching the public. Yet, that's what it did, and because of that, Lessig has dropped his campaign for the Presidency. You can see the video of him explaining this decision below:
An article from one of his advisers, Steve Jarding, explains the situation in more detail. We already knew that the Democratic Party had tried to keep him out of the debates by not "officially" welcoming him to the race -- as it had done with candidates like Jim Webb and Lincoln Chaffee who had raised less money and were polling lower than Lessig. And many polling operations hadn't included Lessig in their polls because they relied on the DNC's official welcome to start polling.
In response, Lessig had dropped his original gimmicky promise to resign the Presidency after getting campaign finance reform through Congress. Based on that, it was expected that the DNC would recognize his campaign. In the meantime, more polling operations started putting Lessig in their polls, and he was polling over 1% -- which was the threshold that the DNC had clearly told Lessig's campaign was necessary to cross to get into the debates. In fact, Lessig's campaign had specifically asked and gotten confirmation on the rules:
The DNC's rules for candidate participation in their debates were pretty straightforward--or so we thought. In August, before the Lessig campaign began, DNC Chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, announced the standards for being included in the debates. As she described the rule, a candidate had to have 1 percent in three DNC sanctioned national polls, "in the six weeks prior to the debate."
Yet, about this time, Lessig's campaign manager received a troubling email from the DNC, suggesting the debate participation standards were different. The email included a memo that stated that the three polls had to be "at least six weeks prior to the" debate--contradicting what Wasserman-Schultz had said that they could be "in the six weeks prior to the debate." To try to clear up the contradiction, I arranged a call with the DNC. On that call, the DNC political director confirmed to me the rule was as the Chair had stated it--three polls finding 1 percent "in the six weeks prior to the debate."
But... then the rules magically changed, despite the fact that it shows that the previous debate wouldn't have allowed some candidates if the DNC had followed the same rules:
And indeed, that is precisely the rule that was applied in the first debate. As CNN specified in a late September memo, to qualify a candidate had to poll at 1 percent in the "polls released between August 1, 2015 and October 10, 2015." The first debate was October 12.
So, we believed we had our guidelines. And as such, we worked hard--and spent our campaign's resources--to meet this clarified goal. It wasn't easy, as most of the national polls didn't even include Lessig's name. But then a week ago, a Monmouth poll of Democrats nationally found him at the qualifying percentage. Then an NBC poll found the same. HuffPost Pollster now lists three polls at 1%. Since the Monmouth poll, no poll that included Lessig's name found him with anything less than 1%.
The new rules, which seem solely designed to block Lessig out:
Late last week, the DNC again changed the rules for participation in the debates. Just at the point that it seemed Lessig was about to get in, the DNC has shut the door.
We were informed of this change in a phone call late last week that I had with the DNC political director. During that call, I was told that the DNC participation standard for the debates was for a candidate to be at one percent in three polls conducted, "six weeks prior to the debate"--not the clarified rule cited earlier by Wasserman-Shultz and the DNC political director that a candidate had to be at one percent in three polls conducted "in the six weeks prior to the debate." To further make the point, the political director confirmed the new rule in a follow-up email to me.
Under this new rule, Lessig obviously cannot qualify for the November 14 debate. He would have had to qualify four weeks ago! Under this new rule, all the work--and expense--of the past four weeks has been for naught. The door has been shut. By DNC mandate, Larry Lessig won't be participating in the Democratic Party debates.
This seems pretty fucked up. Yes, politics is a nasty business, but let's face it: Lessig had no chance to win, but could have had a real impact on the campaigns and what followed by participating in the debates. And he did everything by the rules... and still got fucked over for it.
If Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and the Democratic National Party wanted to do a job highlighting just how corrupt the process is, they just did a great job.
Comcast is currently trying to negotiate a new franchise agreement in its hometown of Philadelphia, but is running into the kind of fierce consumer disgust for the company that ultimately helped derail its failed acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Back in April, the city was criticized for refusing to publicize a city survey on Comcast that took two years to conduct, but only Comcast executives were allowed to see. When the 571-page report (pdf) was finally released, the results weren't surprising: Philadelphia locals by and large loathe Comcast and its documentably atrocious customer service.
Of the roughly 1,700 people who submitted online comments for the city’s survey, around 99% of those were negative. Comcast, as you might expect, denied that the survey's findings were accurate, and promised the Philadelphia city council that it would provide evidence proving as much.
Rosso notes that the questions were phrased in such a way as to generate positive responses to controversial programs like Comcast's Internet Essentials, a low-income broadband program we've noted as being intentionally restrictive and a bit of a PR show pony. Rosso says questions focused on Comcast's employment and tax record were also phrased in such a way as to generate limited or positive responses. Other locals well-versed in the practice of polling science agree that Comcast is up to no good:
"Chris Rabb, author of Invisible Capital: How Unseen Forces Shape Entrepreneurial Opportunity and a professor at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, also took part in the phone survey. He tells Consumerist it was one of the most egregious examples of non-electoral push polling he’s seen in decades.
This was particularly true, says Rabb, when the survey transitioned to questions about demands Philadelphia could make of Comcast in the company’s renewed franchise agreement, and how these could increase costs for the company."
Comcast has confirmed that it has hired a "reputable third party, independent company" to conduct polls in the city, but has, rather unsurprisingly, been unable to provide an exact copy of the precise language used in the poll questions. Of course, in a few weeks the findings will be trotted out by city leaders as a shining example of Comcast's sterling reputation, and Philadelphia city leaders will likely grant Comcast a very cozy new franchise agreement that helps cement the cable giant's monopoly power in the city for another decade.
We've written before about Jay Rosen's excellent explanation of "the church of the savvy," in which political reporters seem more focused on describing the "horse race" aspect of politics rather than the truth. It's the old story in which the press ignores, say, a really good concept because "politicians won't support it." A key giveaway for a "savvy" post is to focus on "what the polls say" rather than what reality says. That doesn't mean that polls are never useful or shouldn't be reported on -- but when they get in the way of the actual story, it can make for ridiculous results.
A Pew poll shows Americans say, by a two-to-one margin (56-28), say the CIA's interrogation methods after 9/11 "provided intelligence that helped prevent terrorist attacks."
Similarly, a CBS News poll shows that 57 percent of Americans think waterboarding and other interrogation techniques practiced by the CIA "provide reliable information that helps prevent terrorist attacks" either "often" or "sometimes." Just 8 percent say it "never" provides quality information, while 24 percent say it "rarely" does.
And finally, a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Tuesday morning shows people say 53-31 that the CIA's program did "produce important information that could not have been obtained any other way."
Now, an actual reporter might point out that (1) these Americans are wrong and (2) that it doesn't fucking matter whether or not torture works -- it's still reprehensible. But, instead, Blake concludes that, boy, this sure is a loss for the Democrats:
And as long as people believe torturing terrorism detainees leads to valuable information, the CIA's interrogation program — and torture in general — are unlikely to face a major public backlash.
This is the unhappy reality being confronted by Democrats who had hoped to make a splash with the CIA report.
So the only "reality" in the article is the fact that the public's depraved position is bad for one particular party. Apparently, it's not bad for "humanity" or common sense or human rights or America. It's just bad for one party? Rather than actually educating the public -- which reporters are supposed to be doing -- the focus is just on what these polling numbers mean for torture -- presented in the same way one might discuss the polling numbers for a regular election.
This isn't a political horse race we're talking about here. This is about a fundamental issue of human rights, and the press is acting like all that matters is torture's polling numbers?
As we noted last week, the idea that net neutrality is a strictly partisan issue is a dated one, with several new studies indicating that support for net neutrality (and support for meaningful net neutrality rules) is increasingly common among members of all parties. As we've also noted several times, most people, when you sit them down and talk to them, understand that letting lumbering telecom duopolists write the laws, corner the market, and erect obnoxious new and arbitrary tolls, simply isn't a very bright idea or conducive to healthy technology markets.
While a number of polls and surveys were busy deconstructing the myth of the partisan neutrality feud last week, Rasmussen Reports was busy trying to perpetuate it. The firm recently issued a new poll that breathlessly proclaimed that 61% of the public opposed net neutrality rules, while also insisting that people generally really like their cable and broadband providers:
"Most Americans have opposed increased government regulation of the Internet since December 2010 when some members of the FCC began pushing “net neutrality” efforts to stop some companies from offering higher downloading speeds to preferred customers. Seventy-six percent (76%) of Americans who regularly go online rate the quality of their Internet service as good or excellent. Only five percent (5%) consider their service poor. Americans remain suspicious of the motives of those who want government regulation of the Internet. Sixty-eight percent (68%) are concerned that if the FCC does gain regulatory control over the Internet, it will lead to government efforts to control online content or promote a political agenda, with 44% who are Very Concerned."
Of course if you actually bother to investigate the questions asked of survey participants, you'll notice this amusing little ditty:
"Should the Internet remain "open" without regulation and censorship or should the Federal Communications Commission regulate the Internet like it does radio and television?"
Note that in this case the question tells the poll taker the Internet is currently "open" and that regulation will automatically change this. Amusingly, the phrase "and censorship" is just kind of thrown in there casually, as if nobody reading the poll questions could possibly ferret out that Rasmussen is being misleading. It's effectively asking survey recipients: "Do you like government meddling -- that involves punching you squarely in the face?"
The Rasmussen poll wording also goes on to more subtly rattle ye olde "all regulation is automatically evil" saber, strongly implying that real competition would be immeasurably better than consumer protections. That's partially true -- we've obviously argued more than a few times that net neutrality violations are just the symptom of the lack of competition disease. That said, Rasmussen intentionally ignores (or doesn't actually understand) that Title II with forbearance is the best option available in the face of an immensely powerful broadband duopoly (or monopoly) that's simply not getting fixed anytime soon.
Obviously this isn't the first time Rasmussen has brought loaded questions to play. The firm's reputation as a reliable pollster took a mammoth hit back in 2010 for repeatedly being significantly off on projections, and having what Nate Silver and Five-Thirty-Eight at the time complained was "cavalier attitude toward polling convention," something Silver stated would "need to be refined" if the pollster was to ever be taken seriously again. Judging from their net neutrality poll, those necessary improvements may not be coming anytime soon.
That said, do you support net neutrality...when it involves getting kicked in the groin?
from the despite-all-these-efforts,-still-rather-reviled dept
Vigilant, one of the nation's largest automatic license plate reader (ALPR) contractors, is trying to keep its public image as untarnished as possible. At this point, Vigilant has nearly 2 billion license plate records stored in its databases, which can be accessed by hundreds of law enforcement agencies.
Very recently, Vigilant took the state of Utah to court for violating its First Amendment right to take pictures and make money (photography/Citizens United, for those trying to keep score) by not allowing it to set up shop within its borders. As that news surfaced, so did a press release from the ALPR contractor which featured glowing comments from law enforcement officers who claimed the database helped track down bad guys (the baddest of the bad, too -- pedophiles) and did nothing more than anyone with a camera could do -- take photos of license plates.
The survey asked seven questions, the first of which was the following: "In your opinion has license plate recognition—the ability for law enforcement to take photographs of license plates with a data and time stamp—helped to solve crimes?"
The results showed that 62 percent of respondents said yes, 10 percent said no, and 29 percent said they were unsure. What conclusion did Vigilant and Zogby draw from this result? It touted that "by a 6-1 margin, Californians say that license plate recognition technology helps police solve crimes."
That bit of exclusionary math notwithstanding (6-4 would be more accurate), it's not clear whether many of the respondents even knew what a license plate reader was or how much data these readers are capable of collecting (up to 60 plates per minute). The respondents may also have been unaware that the plate readers collect far more than photos of license plates. They also collect time/date/location data. So, when those polled responded to the following question, they may not have had any idea how easily the supposedly-innocuous ALPRs can connect a person with a license plate.
The survey also asked: "Do you agree or disagree that license plates reveal nothing about me. People who see my license plate cannot determine my name or where I live."
Roughly 24 percent of respondents said that they strongly agree; 30 percent somewhat agree; 21 percent somewhat disagree; 17 percent strongly disagree and 8 percent were not sure.
There's some iffy wording here as well -- the polling company provided no information that shows just how many agencies and entities have access to Vigilant's LPR databases along with access to other driver data from other locations, all of which is linked by license plate numbers. Even without this information, the margin of "victory" for Vigilant is slim: 54% to 46%. But Vigilant has used this flawed poll to claim that Californians support the use of LPRs.
Vigilant Solutions, founded in 2009, claims to have the nation’s largest repository of license-plate images with nearly 2 billion records stored in its National Vehicle Location Service (NVLS). Despite the enormous implications of the database for the public, any law enforcement agency that signs up for the service is sworn to a vow of silence by the company’s terms of service.
Vigilant is clear about the reason for the secrecy: it’s to prevent customers from “cooperating” with media and calling attention to its database.
Vigilant isn't the only manufacturer of law enforcement surveillance/tracking technology to try to keep cops from talking about their shiny new tools. As you'll recall, Harris, manufacturer of the cell tower spoofer called the Stingray, made law enforcement agencies sign the same sort of non-disclosure agreement at the time of sale, one that also prohibited disclosure to not just the media, but to other government agencies as well. This worked out well for law enforcement officers, giving them a reason to skip seeking warrants… right up until all of this was made very public by a court battle.
Here's the actual wording in Vigilant's contract, as uncovered by the EFF:
You shall not create, publish, distribute, or permit any written, electronically transmitted or other form of publicity material that makes reference to LEARN [Law Enforcement Archival and Reporting Network] or this Agreement without first submitting the material to LEARN-NVLS and receiving written consent from LEARN-NVLS. This prohibition is specifically intended to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS. Breach this provision may result in LEARN-NVLS immediately termination of this Agreement upon notice to you [sic].
Vigilant knows the public would undoubtedly have issues with its multi-billion license plate collection and the fact that several hundred thousand new records are being generated every day. If it had any belief in its product's ability to instill public confidence it wouldn't be suing states, publishing questionable polls and swearing those with inside knowledge to secrecy. Update: After these terms became public, Vigilant has now updated the terms to make them slightly less crazy...
Law enforcement agencies know this as well, but have been willing to let their silence speak volumes. In most cases, technology like that provided by Harris and Vigilant goes into service well before the public even hears about it. Only when it's exposed are any moves made to introduce privacy protections, minimization procedures or anything else that should have been present before the tech hit the streets.
The ultimate hypocrisy of it all is that both Vigilant and law enforcement agencies defend the mass capture of license plate/location data as just gathering publicly-available information. But when it comes to their info, everything's a secret, enforced by contract if necessary. Then they go even further and claim the public information gathered is private and can't be released, even to the owner of the license plates captured. It's a one-way street of data that's disingenuous, dishonest and, above all, an insult to the very public these agencies are meant to serve.
Results of a recent survey have just been released by the Pew Research Center and its discoveries are a bit surprising and a bit disappointing. After seeing a large surge in the percentage of people who were unwilling to sacrifice more civil liberties to fight terrorism (last month's post-Boston Bombing TIME/CNN poll), today's poll release swings back in the other direction. According to Pew's poll, a majority of Americans think the NSA's phone records dragnet is perfectly fine in the context of fighting terrorism.
A majority of Americans – 56% – say the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program tracking the telephone records of millions of Americans is an acceptable way for the government to investigate terrorism, though a substantial minority – 41% – say it is unacceptable. And while the public is more evenly divided over the government’s monitoring of email and other online activities to prevent possible terrorism, these views are largely unchanged since 2002, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Currently 62% say it is more important for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy. Just 34% say it is more important for the government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats.
While it's tempting to believe a large number of Americans simply haven't been paying attention for the last 11 years, the more probable explanation for the consistent support of government monitoring is the hypocrisy of partisan politics. Republicans and Democrats have shown their support of government surveillance is directly tied to whoever's currently in the White House.
Republicans and Democrats have had very different views of the two operations. Today, only about half of Republicans (52%) say it is acceptable for the NSA to obtain court orders to track phone call records of millions of Americans to investigate terrorism. In January 2006, fully 75% of Republicans said it was acceptable for the NSA to investigate suspected terrorists by listing in on phone calls and reading emails without court approval.
Democrats now view the NSA’s phone surveillance as acceptable by 64% to 34%. In January 2006, by a similar margin (61% to 36%), Democrats said it was unacceptable for the NSA to scrutinize phone calls and emails of suspected terrorists.
There, in bold black and white, is one of the most damning indictments of the two party system and its attendant illusion of choice. Two different parties in control. Same outcome. The only thing that changes is the party affiliation of the indignant. Oddly, "Independents" have increased their support of surveillance programs over the same period, a stat that serves as a reminder that it's not just libertarians self-identifying as independent.
On a slightly more positive note, Americans are more protective of their internet usage, with a slight majority (52%) saying the government should not be allowed to monitor email and "other internet activities" in order to track down terrorists. Sadly, this too can probably be chalked up to a change in presidents, with Republicans jumping 13% in their disapproval from 2006 to 2013 and Democrats dropping their disapproval 8% over the same period.
Most voters oppose the U.S. government’s secret collection of the phone records of millions of Americans and think the feds are spying too much on U.S. citizens these days. Just 26% of Likely U.S. Voters favor the government’s secret collecting of these phone records for national security purposes regardless of whether there is any suspicion of wrongdoing. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59% are opposed to the practice.
It appears as though certain words -- like "terrorism" -- tend to trigger more supportive answers.
As you may know, it has been reported that the National Security Agency has been getting secret court orders to track telephone call records of MILLIONS of Americans in an effort to investigate terrorism. Would you consider this access to telephone call records an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism?
The federal government has been secretly collecting the phone records of millions of Americans for national security purposes regardless of whether there is any suspicion of wrongdoing. Do you favor or oppose the government’s secret collecting of these phone records?
Both questions have their own tilt. Pew uses the word "terrorism," which tends to provoke stronger emotional responses. It also gives the NSA's action an overarching purpose where Rasmussen's wording places more emphasis on secrecy and the lack of reasonable suspicion inherent in the NSA's data harvesting. Rasmussen skews things even further in other questions, including this one, which presents only one "correct" answer (logically).
Is the U.S. government spying too much on Americans these days, not enough or is the level of spying about right?
Where does the public's opinion actually lie? It's tough to say as both polls use language which could skew results. A certain percentage of Americans are willing to accept rights erosion in exchange for fighting terrorism. Legislators still exploit this angle to push through questionable bills and excuse existing policies. Rasmussen's question exchanges "terrorism" for "national security," a term that doesn't have nearly the same emotional impact. Two very different outcomes to ostensibly the same question.
Pew's more thorough poll does alert us to the fact that a majority of the population is either ambivalent to the NSA's actions -- or completely unaware. Only 27% of respondents claim to be following the story closely, with those polling as opposed to the NSA's data harvesting holding a slight lead over those who support these efforts. This low level of engagement isn't uncommon and has helped to ensure that questionable Bush-era policies remain in place years down the road, in some cases being expanded by the current administration. Hopefully, this latest round of leaks will grab the attention of more of the population and bring with it some much-needed transparency and change within the system.
Of course, as with any poll, the devil is in the details, and specifically in how the questions are asked. As Tim Lee properly notes, the poll question does not mention the whole naked bit or anything relaying the concerns of those protesting the machines. The actual question asked read as follows:
Some airports are now using "full-body" digital x-ray machines to electronically screen passengers in airport security lines. Do you think these new x-ray machines should or should not be used at airports?
Note that there's nothing about how someone will see you naked. Note that there's nothing about the health concerns some have raised (which, frankly, are probably blown out of proportion). Note that there's nothing about the compulsory genital groping should you refuse to be seen naked. Most people don't follow these issues, and without knowing the details, when you present the question as it's been presented in this poll, it should come as little surprise that most people agreed. Try asking the same people whether or not they approve of being scanned by a machine that presents TSA screeners a naked image of their body, and see what the results would be then.
I remember, way back during the 2004 election, reading stories about how the rising number of people cutting the cord when it came to their landline phone meant that phone-based surveys were not all that accurate any more. So now, six years later, research has come out saying exactly the same thing. It is true that the number of people who have done away with their landline has increased (now over a quarter of the population has ditched their landlines). Apparently, the study found that landline-only election surveys tend to overcount Republican voters and undercount Democratic ones. This doesn't come as a huge surprise as, generally speaking, the older generation skews more Republican and are also the least likely to ditch their landlines.
from the perhaps-because-it-provides-access-to-Scarlett-Johansson-pictures dept
Sean Garrett writes in to point us to the bizarre/amusing/random factoids his tech-wonk/policy shop discovered in its latest poll of internet users. As Garrett notes, this poll is "completely without an agenda." Unlike most other polls, you can check out the actual questions asked, the demographic data and other relevant info. Given the topics covered, you can pretty much figure out why there's no need for an agenda here. Beyond the headline grabbers, such as the fact that many people (and, no, this shouldn't be a shock) find stars like Halle Berry, Scarlett Johansson, and Patrick Dempsey more attractive than an iPhone, there are some interesting factoids mixed in. A somewhat scary 53% of people seem to think that online video content should be regulated, with 29% thinking it should have television-style regulations. It'll come as little surprise, I imagine, that the older you are, the more likely you are to be in favor of regulating content online. While 78% of those in the 18 to 24-year-old range have a social networking profile (that's it?) only 14% say it's an important part of their identity. Why else do you think those sites are so faddish? Too bad Microsoft didn't have this kind of data before it dumped $240 million into Facebook. Only 11% of folks are actually interested in having direct mind-access to the internet, but maybe that's because they haven't tried it yet. It would certainly solve the problem of feeling disconcerted when you're not connected. There are some other fun stats in there as well, including the fact that about a quarter of people responding see the internet as a perfectly acceptable temporary replacement for a significant other. Of course, their opinion might be different if that significant other were Scarlett Johansson...