The media will – as I just have – use dubious statistics to attract readers. My only hope that people realise that such stories are for entertainment not news and, usually, not something upon which to base decisions. I fear along the way that the reputation of data is damaged in the process, which is a shame as it can be of immense value at times.
The Mirror had a pretty shocking example of rubbish today under the headline: “What’s the best day of the week to have sex, start a diet or quit smoking?” The article included about 25 survey results or factoids and I say they are rubbish as most of them sounded as if they were! I tried to trace a few of the sources and failed. That leads to my first recommendation for newspapers – now we are online do put a hyper link to the source of the fact. That would help the interested reader to judge which are possibly true or meaningful.
Some of the variation is just random. “Saturday is also the day to give birth if you want your child to be a future Prime Minister. The Office for National Statistics reveals that almost one in three of the British premiers since 1900 have been born on this day.” I dread to think what the ONS is doing bothering to research such facts. But to learn that 6 or 7 of the 20 or so PMs were born on a Saturday is no great shock.
Some of the facts surely aren’t true, or are worth checking out. Sunday “is by far the worst day to have an operation, according to a study by the British Medical Journal. Patients who go under the knife are 80 per cent more likely to die than if they have the procedure on a Monday.” Really?
And getting up in the morning? We are told: “….. Friday is the day when it’s hardest to get out of bed – we rise at an average time of 8.12am compared with 6.59 am on Monday, says a study of 326,000 alarm clock users.” I just want to know why.