‘Perils of Perception’ research sparks debate in UK media and online

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

The findings of research commissioned by the RSS on public understanding of statistics on key social issues has prompted a significant amount of media interest, both in the national press and in the blogosphere.
The research, which is linked to from this article, shows just how wrong public opinion can be when trying to quantify the levels of immigration, teenage pregnancy and crime.
The research findings were reported in The Metro, The Independent, The Guardian and Channel 4 News. In addition, The Telegraph and The Guardian Datablog ran their own quizzes using the questions used in the research.
The research was also commented on by a number of high-profile bloggers. Tom Chivers observed that ‘Britain isn’t as broken as people sometimes think’ in his Telegraph column. Ally Fogg, blogging for The Independent, wrote that the research showed how much the public aren’t told. ‘The real issue is not the sin of dishonesty but the sin of omission,’ he commented. ‘It is not that the public doesn’t understand the statistics, it is that they are virtually never told the statistics in the first place.’ Alex Massie, blogging in The Spectator, found that the research confirmed his suspicions that, ‘when it comes to the detail of actual government policy the public is, generally speaking, clueless.’
Bobby Duffy from Ipsos Mori, the organisation that conducted the research, was interviewed by www.huffingtonpost.co.uk and both he and RSS executive director Hetan Shah wrote a blogpost for New Statesman. The research also caused some consternation online, with hundreds of tweets linking back to the original story; Derren Brown tweeted it to his 1.6million followers.
The research was launched at the ‘Perils of Perception’ event on Tuesday chaired by Hetan Shah. The event featured talks by BBC home affairs editor Mark Easton, Office for Budget Responsibility chair Robert Chote, Jill Rutter of the Institute for Government, Professor Ken Young, programme director for Public Policy at King’s, and Bobby Duffy of Ipsos MORI. The event was oversubscribed but was filmed – footage is due to go up in due course.

Perils of Perception

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