Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Are the British public wrong about neary everything? and if so what does it mean?

The Independent has a story entitled "British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows".

It highlights are:-

Benefit fraud - Public think its £24 in £100- Government claim its 70p in £100.
Migrants - Public think its 30% of the population - Government claim its 13%
Teen Pregnancy - Public think its 15% of teens - Government say its 0.6%

In each case the public were asked to second guess government stats (I am not sure how useful this even is as an exercise - Government stats are only estimates...) however given that people see the impact of these things in their everyday lives, and are basing their estimates on the damage they see done maybe something useful can be extracted...

The conclusion implied (usually by the left who hate the public anyway - and decry anything that is wanted by many as 'populist') is:-

'things are not as bad as people think, they should stop complaining because its all OK really'

However I think this is flawed - people know how bad things are, they see it in their every day lives - the flaw is in their estimation of how many people it takes to make things so bad. They think such damage and expense must be the result of many, many more people than it actually is - and just imagine how much worse things would be if these figures were allowed to climb to where they public think they already are!

Also, given the actual figures, if the public are asked about targets for benefit fraud, migration, teen pregnancy, they could well say (for instance) £15, 20%, 10% - and then be truly shocked at the results(!). So any targets currently in place need serious review with an expectation that they need to be hugely reduced.

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