diamond geezer

 Friday, January 05, 2007

Surveying the bleedin obvious

Aren't some surveys rubbish? They're commissioned by organisations with a vested interest. They ask blatantly obvious questions. They come up with tempting yet not terribly convincing conclusions. Then some PR demon rushes out a press release stating the conclusion they knew they were going to publish anyway, which coincidentally happens to recommend one of the company's products or services. And finally, every time, lazy journalists across the media treat the outcome as proper news and reproduce the press release word for word in an orgy of free publicity. It'd be criminal if it wasn't so easy.

So I thought I'd try cataloguing the UK's most blindingly banal studies and surveys, and expose them here as 2007 progresses. Let's see how many have slipped beneath the quality radar so far this year already...

1) "Job applications sent to employers are full of basic grammar and spelling mistakes." [Ooh, you don't say] "Research carried out by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation found that 47% of all CVs received by agencies contained mistakes." [Blimey, what a shock] "Chief executive Marcia Roberts said that people should consult recruitment firms as well as friends before sending off forms." [Well of course she did, oh foolish BBC, because she runs one]

2) "There are wide variations in the quality of education in English primary schools, a major study for the DfES has found." [Ooh, you don't say]

3) "Research from Yorkshire Bank suggests that almost half of parents in the UK believe they will find this month a serious financial struggle." [Ooh, you don't say] "One in eight parents admitted that they might have to borrow money from their children during January in an effort to see them through to pay day." [Thank goodness Yorkshire Bank can rescue us from this financial hell!]

4) "Paying people with severe mental illnesses to take medication may encourage some to stick to their drug regime, a team of London doctors says." [Ooh, you don't say]

5) "More than a third of top UK companies are failing to abide by laws which give customers the chance to opt out of unwanted emails, a survey has found." [Ooh, you don't say] "Data and marketing company CDMS said 31% of companies were risking their reputations by allowing themselves to be regarded as junk e-mailers." [I thought that would get the Daily Mail rattled] "Spokesman Ian Hubbard said: Companies who have not complied are putting their carefully-built brands at risk." [Oh shut up]

6) "Customers are less satisfied with postal services than with banks, mobile phone firms and broadband providers, a Which? survey suggests." [Ooh, you don't say] "Royal Mail said Which?'s findings did not match its own." [Ooh, you don't say]

7) "People in Britain consume on average 20 different food additives every day, with some eating up to 50, a study has suggested." [Ooh, you don't say] "The survey also found that almost half of people believe frozen food contains more preservatives than chilled foods, when in fact the chilled ready meals consumed in the survey contained on average six times more preservatives than frozen ready meals." [Lifted directly from the press release, I bet] "The research was commissioned by food manufacturer Birds Eye." [A nigh perfect example of the genre]


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