Are the methods of modern psychology and sociology compatible with Krishna consciousness? If you believe in one, can you believe in the other? And in the context of child protection, a field which relies on these two scientific fields, why do these questions matter? This article, first posted at the ISKCON India Scholars Board, addresses these questions.
When conducting any survey, one of the most important concerns a researcher has is in eliminating bias. Even if the bias is unintentional, if your survey is biased in any way, the results will be unreliable or misleading. As declared in the first verse of Srimad-Bhagavatam, “The highest truth is reality distinguished from illusion for the welfare of all.” Bias prevents the discovery of truth. Therefore, both researchers and devotees have a common interest in eliminating bias.
My overall assessment of the survey is that while some of the questions are reasonable and interesting and not without some utility for ISKCON policymakers, the survey itself is strongly biased to produce results that reflect the opinion of the survey’s sponsor. In the survey there are various problems of response bias, especially framing bias, and also selection bias. It is also apparent that those who created the survey are unfamiliar with some of the basic principles of survey design. Prior experience and training do matter.
Now, I will present examples of these different biases. After that, I will address some general epistemological issues related to this survey and its purposes.