British public wrong about nearly everything?

roaminblue

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Article from the Independent, citing a survey recently conducted, discusses popular misconceptions held by the public.

Interesting read, anyway. Looks likely there is an element of probability neglect or observational selection bias going on in most of us:

A new survey for the Royal Statistical Society and King's College London shows public opinion is repeatedly off the mark on issues including crime, benefit fraud and immigration.

The research, carried out by Ipsos Mori from a phone survey of 1,015 people aged 16 to 75, lists ten misconceptions held by the British public. Among the biggest misconceptions are:

- Benefit fraud: the public think that £24 of every £100 of benefits is fraudulently claimed. Official estimates are that just 70 pence in every £100 is fraudulent - so the public conception is out by a factor of 34.

- Immigration: some 31 per cent of the population is thought to consist of recent immigrants, when the figure is actually 13 per cent. Even including illegal immigrants, the figure is only about 15 per cent. On the issue of ethnicity, black and Asian people are thought to make up 30 per cent of the population, when the figure is closer to 11 per cent.

- Crime: some 58 per cent of people do not believe crime is falling, when the Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that incidents of crime were 19 per cent lower in 2012 than in 2006/07 and 53 per cent lower than in 1995. Some 51 per cent think violent crime is rising, when it has fallen from almost 2.5 million incidents in 2006/07 to under 2 million in 2012.

- Teen pregnancy is thought to be 25 times higher than the official estimates: 15 per cent of of girls under 16 are thought to become pregnant every year, when official figures say the amount is closer to 0.6 per cent.

Among the other surprising figures are that 26 per cent of people think foreign aid is in the top three items the Government spends money on (it actually makes up just 1.1 per cent of expenditure), and that 29 per cent of people think more is spent on Jobseekers' Allowance than pensions.

In fact we spend 15 times more on pensions - £4.9 billion on JSA vs £74.2 billion on pensions.

Hetan Shah, executive director of the Royal Statistical Society, said: "Our data poses real challenges for policymakers. How can you develop good policy when public perceptions can be so out of kilter with the evidence?

"We need to see three things happen. First, politicians need to be better at talking about the real state of affairs of the country, rather than spinning the numbers. Secondly, the media has to try and genuinely illuminate issues, rather than use statistics to sensationalise.

"And finally we need better teaching of statistical literacy in schools, so that people get more comfortable in understanding evidence."

Bobby Duffy, the managing director of Ipsos Mori Social Research Institute, said: "A lack of trust in government information is also very evident in other questions in the survey - so 'myth-busting' is likely to prove a challenge on many of these issues. But it is still useful to understand where people get their facts most wrong."

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-public-wrong-about-nearly-everything-survey-shows-8697821.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;">http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ho ... 97821.html</a>
 

Henkeman

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They should do a TV programme about something like that. It'd probably be quite interesting.
 

Dave Ewing's Back 'eader

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- Benefit fraud: the public think that £24 of every £100 of benefits is fraudulently claimed. Official estimates are that just 70 pence in every £100 is fraudulent - so the public conception is out by a factor of 34.

I suspect that when people were asked this question they included the MPs expenses fiasco where it goes up from 70p to £24!
 

Blue Mist

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I think the Independent is wrong. I read the Daily Mail and I know who I can trust on immigration/crime/fraud figures.
 

roaminblue

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Henkeman said:
They should do a TV programme about something like that. It'd probably be quite interesting.

On the british public being wrong, or on the psychology of why people get things wrong?

Think both may be interesting. Its in the same ball park as people being afraid of flying, but not driving. Really interesting subject
 

yerwot?

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no mention of the disinformation and propaganda in the two highest selling newspapers. Where else could it come from
 

malg

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Blue Mist said:
I think the Independent is wrong. I read the Daily Mail and I know who I can trust on immigration/crime/fraud figures.
Christ only knows why it's just the Mail that gets the blame for this. The rest of the media are complicent.
 

chabal

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Daniel Kahneman is your man.

Won the Nobel Prize for Economics.

His book Thinking, Fast and Slow demonstrates how irrational humans are, particularly when faced with statistics, figures risk, probability etc.
 

CITYBOY1000

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chabal said:
Daniel Kahneman is your man.

Won the Nobel Prize for Economics.

His book Thinking, Fast and Slow demonstrates how irrational humans are, particularly when faced with statistics, figures risk, probability etc.


I think his statistics are flawed.

How can any statistics on the percentage of fraudulent benefit claims be accurate ? If they knew what frauds were going on they would catch them surely ? Perhaps the 70 pence or 0.07% view is based on the amount they know about and attempt to prosecute ?

I remember hearing about or reading a Home Office report a while back, maybe over 10 years ago saying that 33% of British males have criminal records and around 10% of women. I don't know the break-down and what percentage were for offences of dishonesty. However, given that benefit fraud is regarded by those who commit it as a 'victimless crime' then I would be amazed if somebody with a criminal record for dishonesty or even violent assault or sex crimes would baulk at committing benefit fraud.

The 24% view of the public is probably an educated guess from those who see what is going on around them. The 0.07% is probably the academic dreamers' and left-wing nutjobs' views on the matter.

I also watched the documentary the other day about The Border Control Agency. It was stated quite clearly that they believed there to be around 1 million people living illegally in this country. Now how can that only give rise to a 2% increase in the probable number of recently arrived immigrants ? Also he doesn't give his sources.

Also what sort of a question is that to refer to "recently arrived immigrants " ? What does that mean and how would the British public be expected to differentiate between recently arrived immigrants and those who have been here 30 years ? I regularly encounter immigrants who have been in this country a great many years but who, for various reasons, do not speak fluent English and in some cases not a word of English.

£5 billion a year on JSA is a lot of money but is actually much less than the £12 Billion we spend on foreign aid. Is it too much and would you expect the average punter to know anyway ?

The guy is spouting the usual left-wing bollix and his article doesn't deserve scrutiny.
 

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