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General Ignorance

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25410.  Fri Sep 30, 2005 7:05 am Reply with quote

This might be fun for Stephen's notes in some context or other:
A survey involving interviews with 2,069 British people aged 16 and over has revealed what many people have long suspected, that we are more likely to believe Hollywood than history. Asignificant proportion of the population display "absurd and depressing"ignorance about past events, and reveal confusion between historical figures and their Hollywood representations. Among the many amusing findings were: 57 per cent believed King Arthur really lived; 50 per cent thought William Wallace was a fictional character; 33 per cent thought the Cold War was not real; 29 per cent thought Robin Hood really existed; 11 per cent believed Hitler was a fictional person; 9 per cent said that Winston Churchill was not a real person; and 5 per cent believed Conan the Barbarian was a bona fide figure of Nordic history. Confusion about historical facts was also wide-scale. More than half thought Nelson commanded the British troops at the Battle of Waterloo, while significant proportions thought the Battles of Hastings, Bulge, and Little Big Horn had no historical basis. One per cent believed Edward Blackadder was a real person, while one in five believed Harold Wilson led the country during the Second World War, while over one half did not know in which century the First World War took place.

49926.  Thu Feb 09, 2006 7:43 am Reply with quote

Surely all opinion polls are bollocks; “surveys” doubly so? They invariably show what you want them to show. In fact, I was thinking of starting a thread of amusing opinion polls - recently, for instance, a poll (scientifically conducted, by a reputable company) showed that most people don’t want a total ban on smoking in public places, and a ditto poll showed that most people do. One poll was commissioned by ASH, the other by Forest. (I wonder if they asked the same people?)

Only a personal prejudice, perhaps, but I consider all poll-based “information” to be inherently non-evidential, and thus fundamentally anti-qi.

49935.  Thu Feb 09, 2006 8:10 am Reply with quote

I agree. Far more weight goes on the sex and desirability of the person asking the question, and people generally give the answer that they hope will make them look their best at that particular moment.

And that's not even going into how the question is phrased, and what form the choices of answer takes...

Frederick The Monk
50018.  Thu Feb 09, 2006 12:57 pm Reply with quote

Reminds me of the old (attributed) Cecil B De Mille question to people leaving a premiere:

"So how much did you love my movie?"

50915.  Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:47 am Reply with quote

Here’s a perfect example (from the Asda magazine, January 2006) of surveys, polls and so on which most people would, I think, hesitate to take seriously:

“A study by the British Cheese Board showed that people who ate cheese before bed actually got a good night’s sleep.”

70970.  Mon May 22, 2006 6:44 am Reply with quote

And another great opinion poll - this one described as a “study.” It seems most British bosses are putting pressure on their workers not to take lunch breaks. And the poll was commissioned by ... Ginsters, the pie-makers.

104305.  Thu Oct 19, 2006 4:38 am Reply with quote

Relatedly, here’s a great example of Headline/Story Mismatch Syndrome, where the results of a survey contradict the line the organisation wants to push, so they stick a contradictory headline on it in the hope that this is all most people will read.

<<Parents 'shunning bedtime story'
One in 10 parents of UK primary school pupils never read to
their children, according to a survey
Book Trade News Digest for Thu, October 19, 2006>>>

So - 9 out of 10 parents aren't “shunning bedtime stories”? Sounds like a big result for the bedtime story fans, to me.

145825.  Mon Feb 12, 2007 6:19 am Reply with quote

I realise we're proofreading the OU here, but it's EdMUNd, not EdWARd, Blackadder -

The shows were produced by John Lloyd, and starred Rowan Atkinson as the eponymous anti-hero, Edmund Blackadder, and Tony Robinson as his sidekick/dogsbody, Baldrick


I can only imagine the embarrassment if this little beauty slipped through to air...

156672.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 1:30 am Reply with quote

presumably also we are talking about interviewing the "man on the street"
well what about the people who drive cars? people who dont want to trapse round the arndale centre on a saturday? Or intelligent people like us how never leave the house, but instead lead the life of intellectual hermits socialising only through the internet and glimsping the outside world only through the keyhole of our permantly locked doors...........?

156674.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 2:46 am Reply with quote

Hey I get out. I'm a woman on the street.

156700.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 5:17 am Reply with quote

I always wonder about daytime TV surveys. On the odd occasion I'm at home during the week, I watch the Wright Stuff or have some other "magazine" program on in the background while I'm pottering about. There are all sorts of phone-in polls going on - who takes part in these? Are the producers hoping to get a representative view from a cross-section of society by getting the thoughts of stay-at-home mums, the unemployed and pensioners (and lazy gits like me)? Seems to me to be a pointless exercise.

156723.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 6:08 am Reply with quote

Hummingbird wrote:
Hey I get out. I'm a woman on the street.

I misread that 'on' as 'of' - brought a whole other meaning to the sentence.



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