The Sun often prefers its own phone-in polls to paying for proper research, but last month it drew attention to their defects. A Sun poll found that five times as many readers wanted Robin Cook to remain in the cabinet after a reshuffle than any other Labour politician it named. After consulting a professor of statistics, the Sun concluded that a Robin Cook acolyte had been making regular use of the redial button on his or her phone.
The term road rage was invented in the US in 1988 and by 1996 had apparently come to describe an “epidemic” of violent driving. In fact, according to the Atlantic Monthly, road rage does not exist. In 1987 in the US there were 2.8 passenger car crashes per 100m miles travelled, but by 1996 the figure had fallen to 2.
The Association of Search and Selection Consultants says 25 per cent of CVs contain lies. This makes CVs more trustworthy than medical research papers. Richard Smith, editor of the British Medical Journal, says only 5 per cent of published research meets basic standards of scientific soundness and clinical relevance. It’s all down to bogus doctors, who divide their time between falsifying CVs and sending fraudulent research to journals.
Thames Water wants its customers (like myself) to switch to water meters. So it sends out leaflets stating that, thanks to switching, “on average, people in your area have made savings of up to ?100.” But an average should be an exact figure, not a range. I began mentally composing my complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about this piece of nonsense, but I thought I’d better phone up the company’s press office first, to see what absurdity they could come up with to
justify the claim. Sadly, the press officer said: “You’re absolutely correct. The wording’s ridiculous. I’ll take it up with the marketing people at once.” Oh well, better luck next time.
Compiled by Martin Rosenbaum.
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