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97% of Statistics Are Made Up And/Or Mis-Analysed

Article by: maft
Date: 30 Nov 2009

pocketgpsworld.comDubious reporting has been spotted, once again, in the press. This time it is Metro who are milking the statistics somewhat. This morning we were informed by our member 'pEst_29' about the offending article and recently received it via twitter user 'MadProf' (our thanks to both).

The headline is incredibly misleading claiming that "Drivers ask for more gatsos" but when you read further into the short piece it is actually only 7% who want more! Only 25% said there were just enough and around 40% in both London and the Midlands felt there were too many!

This is sloppy journalism at best! Surely they should report the thoughts of the majority of those surveyed? Like the 40% who believe there are already too many speed cameras! It would be interesting to try get hold of the actual survey results to see what they really say. Read on to see the full article.

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Posted by Meter_Man on Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:58 pm Reply with quote

It's actually 97.864% of ststistics that are made up on the spot!

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Posted by MaFt on Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:06 pm Reply with quote

i rounded down... badly...!

Posted by BigPerk on Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:23 pm Reply with quote

Regrettably, the news media has never been in the business of reporting the news; but in the business of making (up) the news (=making money).

Even more regrettably, especially on TV (EVEN(?) Grannie!) it seems to be increasingly misrepresenting news and views, rather than impartially reporting/interviewing, and giving priority and time to the most sensational/extreme points, not so much to make money but more to try and give their own prejudices an airing.

Makes knowing what's going on pretty difficult. Rolling Eyes

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Posted by navver on Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:41 pm Reply with quote

Sorry, I can't see anything wrong with what the article says. They too are expressing surprise that some motorists want more cameras and saying that it is only 7% whilst also saying 41% say there are too many.

The headline attracts attention but the article is very factual and, to me, is not misleading.

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Posted by MaFt on Mon Nov 30, 2009 11:02 pm Reply with quote

but how many people will not read the article and then just quote the headline to their mates in the pub "i read recently that most people want more speed cameras" - hardly the main point in the article, is it?


Posted by meestermartinho on Tue Dec 01, 2009 2:57 pm Reply with quote

the news in teh metro is technically just filler between the adverts.

Posted by navver on Tue Dec 01, 2009 7:47 pm Reply with quote

The headline says "Drivers ask for more gatsos" It doesn't say lots do. What's wrong with that. It doesn't manipulate the statistics, it simply states them. It also implies that they are surprised that some drivers want more gatsos. It's probably true that some do.

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Posted by MaFt on Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:09 pm Reply with quote

ok, so, taking things to the extreme then with the headline. if you read a headline in a newspaper that said "Women are Murderers" what would you think? would you read it as 'all women are murderers' or 'most women' or 'some women' or a tiny percentage' ?


Posted by GerryC on Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:54 am Reply with quote

MaFt, It's the Metro, what do you expect? All it's for is a quick read of the front page headline and then read the sports reports before leaving it for the next person on the train/bus.

You have to read between the lines of the headline. Nowhere does it imply that it's talking about most or all drivers. I would read that as "Wow, there's actually drivers out there who don't think there's enough speed cameras around and want even more of them installed". Problem is that it leaves no room for the text. Laughing

Have you seen some of the "news" on their website? Shocked

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Posted by houghw on Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:59 am Reply with quote

My local paper have run simular articles a couple of times recentle (Cambridge Evening News) where they report the police findings from speed surveys around cambridge.

In every report they say something along the lines that on road X, speed measurements show that thousands of drivers speed along the road in questions, meaning that somewhere around 80% of drivers flout the law!

The trouble is when they first did a report like this they let slip that the figures were based on a sample survey taken for an hour during rush hour (sic) in the city.

Witht he last article this information was missing and the implication was that the majority of drivers sped along a particular road. The trouble is, if you took the article at its face value and did the maths, that would mean that there had to be a car passing you in BOTH directions once every 15 seconds for the full 24 hours to meet the figures claimed by plod!

As they say, there are lies, damned lies and statistics!

Posted by pEst_29 on Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:42 am Reply with quote

Would these headlines be acceptable?

Poles In Britain are criminals.
Brittons prefer drugs to alcohol.
Survey shows women are dumber than men.
UK footballers prefer watching gay porn to straight.
Imprisoning and raping their children is acceptable to Austrians.

They're all true, to an extent aren't they? You can find a tiny percentage of people in all cases that will validate these, but that doesn't mean you choose that for the headline.

It's hardly news that 7% of drivers want gatsos, because you're not going to get 100% agreement on anything are you?

How about this headline on the front pages if the tories win next elections:


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