Monday, 16 December 2013

Reality not perception

“British public wrong about nearly everything” or “Perceptions are not reality”

From Reason and Reality by Colin Lawson:

Democracy is dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed.

Unfortunately, UK government ministers and the right-wing press have made sure that we are misinformed about everything – here is the result. 

The chart is the result of an Ipsos.MORI poll examining the difference between peoples’ perceptions (mean estimates) and reality (actual) when asked questions about the UK population.

Here is another example from the Ipsos.MORI poll (referenced below):

Teenage pregnancy: on average, we think teenage pregnancy is 25 times higher than official estimates: we think that 15% of girls under 16 get pregnant each year, when official figures suggest it is around 0.6%[i].

Here is the reality

“With the lowest numbers recorded since 1969, the teenage pregnancy rate is proof of all the hard work of sexual health and education professionals, and the lasting legacy of the decade-long Teenage Pregnancy Strategy.

Was this news on the front page of the Daily Mail. Of course not – it did not fit their alternative reality. It would only be on their front page if they could somehow twist the data into a moral outrage about increasing teenage pregnancy. Even the Mail has failed to manage this – so far.

More from the IpsosMORI poll:

Foreign aid: 26% of people think foreign aid is one of the top 2-3 items government spends most money on, when it actually made up 1.1% of expenditure (£7.9bn) in the 2011/12 financial year. More people select this as a top item of expenditure than pensions (which cost nearly ten times as much, £74bn) and education in the UK (£51.5bn)[vi].

Benefit fraud: people estimate that 34 times more benefit money is claimed fraudulently than official estimates: the public think that £24 out of every £100 spent on benefits is claimed fraudulently, compared with official estimates of £0.70 per £100[v].

These two pieces of research indicate the gap between perception and reality in the British public:

The IpsosMORI Poll – Perceptions are not reality:

British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows:

These are just a few examples of government ministers misinforming the public:

David Cameron Rebuked For Making Misleading Economy Claim, Again:

Ministers who misuse statistics to mislead voters must pay the price.

Minister rebuked over immigration statistics:

Incapacity benefit test claims ‘conflated figures’ – watchdog:

Iain Duncan Smith criticised over benefit cap figures:

Duncan Smith ‘clarifies’ Commons slip over benefit data:

This gives just a few recent examples of tabloid misinformation:

The Daily Mail & The Sun continue to undermine their own case for press freedom:


The Lies of Right Wing Tories, Blairites, Free Marketeers and Neolibertarians:

Some Questions for our local MP John Glen:

Cameron won’t make me a Minister… I’m a white, married, Home Counties Christian, says Tory MP John Glen:


  1. Was any of this on the front page of the Guardian or the Independent?.....Well no!, of course not, because they didn't care either...Even the BBC were disinterested in reporting this to the masses and they'll bat for Labour at every given opportunity.....

    Never let those opposing observations get in the way of blaming the "right" for everything and anything though....Onward toward the revolution....Full steam ahead...

  2. The Guardian covered it way back in July:

  3. Express carried it:

  4. Independent did it:

  5. Numerous other articles in newspapers and magazines, and apparently was discussed on BBC Radio 4, sorry lost link.