Let's get "real" about the Synoptic Poll

I must respond to Mark Goodacre's interpretation of the Synoptic Poll blog. He writes:

"Brandon's poll provides a nice snapshot of what some people think about the Synoptic Problem at the moment, and several comments on the poll provide interesting perspectives on some current thinking about the question...the poll reflects some movement away from the confidence in the Two-Source Theory that characterized previous generations of scholarship."
It does?

Let's get real about this poll. It is not a scientific poll. Any introduction to psychology or sociology book or class tells us that for a poll to mean anything it must be carefully controlled and executed.

Brandon's poll is neither.

The audience is who? What percent of people who took the poll even knew what all the different answers were? How many just guessed for the fun of it? What percent of people who took the poll were even in the Academy? How many people voted more than once? How many people who voted have taken a course in Biblical Studies, exposing them to all the alternatives? I could go on and on.

What external factors influenced voters? Perhaps Mark's comment at the beginning of the voting process that everyone should vote for the Farrer hypothesis influenced more than a few voters? Perhaps the fact that the voters could view the tallies before they voted influenced their votes - the bandwagon effect? Perhaps those who didn't know what Q is, but saw Augustine's name, thought, hey, I know he is saint, so he must have been right? Perhaps the ordering of the alternatives influenced voters? I could go on and on.

So I take back my earlier remark that this poll can tell us what bloggers think. This poll can't tell us anything because it was not done in a controlled environment with a specific audience and question in mind. If you want to know what the Academy thinks about this, you have to poll the Academy with a controlled poll. If you want to know what Bibliobloggers think, then you have to poll them and only them with a controlled poll. If you want to know what any bloggers think, then you have to poll only that group with a controlled poll.

So counter what Mark Goodacre says, this poll says nothing about advances in the Academy in terms of less confidence in the Q hypothesis. I reiterate that Q is still the reigning hypothesis in the Academy, and I don't see it going away any time soon.

Books questioning Q have been published since its postulation over a century ago, and recently again as a critique of the Q project and its enormous critical edition. But this doesn't suggest that Q is on the decline. It suggests only that scholars are continuing to work on the Synoptic Problem, as well we should.

Update 6-6-07
See Mark Goodacre's response
Jim West's reaction
Loren Rossen's view