Posts Tagged onepoll

Bad News: When Is A Hoax Not A Hoax?

This might well be a little bit of old news by now (given that I covered this story on our second anniversary Skeptics With A K show) but I can still confidently say that anyone who s watching the live stream within an internet explorer 6 browser is an idiot.

Now you might think that’s because there was a recent hoax survey which claimed that a psychometric testing company had analysed the IQ of users of different browsers, and had determined that users of internet explorer 6 are most likely to be flat-out dumb, but that’s not actually why I’m calling you idiots. It just a shit browser, massively outdated and an all-round piece of trash, and if you’re using it, you’re objectively an idiot.

That aside, there is something interesting about this hoax survey story. For those that haven’t heard of it, last month the media was all over this story, and not just the usual suspects. The short version is that AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting Company published a press release claiming that after surveying 101,326 people for their IQ and broswer of choice, and mapping this into a good solid graph, they were able to establish that internet explorer users had a ludicrously low IQ, around the 80 mark. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad News: Clarkson’s Cock Rides Again!

A few weeks ago I gave a BadNews talk at Ignite Liverpool, a cool evening where people from all manner of backgrounds give 5-minute talks on something that interests them. Here it is, for your viewing pleasure.

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Bad News: Are Kids Turning Their Backs On Sports?

The following is taken in part from Episode 46 of our podcast ‘Skeptics with a K’, give or take the odd addition.

A generation of children ‘turn their backs on sport’ – so said the BBC recently. And they weren’t alone, with similar stories gracing the pages of the Daily Mail, The Independent and pretty much every other media outlet going. But I’ll focus on the BBC, because I respect them most. Moving on with the story:

A generation of British children are turning their backs on sport and physical activity, a survey suggests.

The poll for British Triathlon and Tata Steel suggests 10% cannot ride a bike and 15% cannot swim.

Connoisseurs of my PR takedowns in the past will spot the brand names right there in paragraph two – British Triathlon and Tata Steel. The latter are a steelworking giant who sponsor the Tata Kids Of Steel – a community programme to drive kids into exercise, and in particular into the swimming, bike-riding and running that constitutes the triathlon, as promoted by British Triathlon.

Now, it’s worth pointing out at this point – just because the British Triathlon federation and its corporate sponsor Tata Steel have a vested interest in telling the world that children are no longer riding bicycles and swimming and generally triathlonning, it doesn’t mean the survey involved here is dodgy. But it does mean we should be treading a little carefully, and we should certainly be examining the claims being made perhaps a little more skeptically than if an entirely independent body were making the same claims.

As a brief aside at this point, it’s worth pointing out that the first thing I thought when I glanced over this story was ‘who are Tata Steel’ and ‘what have they got to do with sports’ – questions which were soon answered with a mild Google. These big businesses aren’t stupid, and I’d speculate that for every pound spent on this sports initiative, a corporate sponsor would see two pounds or more come back to them in either goodwill, reputational benefit, or convenient blind-eyes to some of the inevitably murkier elements of a large-scale industrial business.

Anyway, back to the BBC, and the story we’re being cautiously skeptical about, and here come the statistics Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad News: Happily Promoting Bogus Research?

Today, I want to talk to you about Man Bags. Or, rather, I specifically don’t – what I WANT to do is tell you a tale of two bullshitters. You’ll see what I mean as I go. So, from the Telegraph on Feb 14th:

They are the ultimate symbol of a modern metrosexual, sported by David Beckham and Brad Pitt: the man bag. But the grown-up satchel is responsible for causing serious back injuries, according a group of medical experts.

Please note the medical experts bit there, that’s important.

Man bags have come of age in the last decade, replacing the old-fashioned briefcase, and sported by an increasing number of commuters. Unlike a stiff attache case which has a carry handle, a man bag has a strap and is usually made of soft leather or canvas, allowing men to sling it across their backs.

When they first appeared in offices across the country, the owners were often mocked for adopting the distinctly Continental fashion of men having handbags. They were the final nail in the coffin for the era of furled umbrellas, sturdy brief cases and even stiffer upper lips.

But an increasing number of high profile men from David Beckham to Jude Law sporting them meant the trend took off. John Lewis said sales of man bags have increased 21 per cent over the last year, with shoppers buying ever smaller ones thanks to the iPad, the tablet computer made by Apple, being able to squeeze into smaller spaces.

Quite the appeal to celebrity to sell this story so far, with Beckham, Jude Law and Brad Pitt getting a mention. Even the photo was of Beckham and Jude Law. The Mail, similarly, went for a huge Beckham picture, despite the fact that the article is supposedly about back pain caused by heavy man bags – not something we know of Beckham suffering from. Hey ho, this is the news.

Footballer David Beckham has one, as does movie star Robert Downey Jr and model David Gandy (no idea!)- but slinging a man bag over your shoulder could give you a serious back injury, experts warn.

There’s that expert again I wonder who they might be. A medical back specialist? Physiotherapist? Posture expert? Even a humble old GP?

New research from the British Chiropractic Association found that men are carrying too many ‘essentials’ with them on their travels.

That’s right, the BCA – latterly famous for unsuccessfully suing Simon Singh for alluding to the fact that Chiropractic is based on nonsense and is bogus. Red flag ahoy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad News: If Only The Sun Knew What ‘Hypocrisy’ Meant…

Occasionally, my searches for Bad PR / Bad News (rebranding, here!) take me places I wouldn’t otherwise go. Like, for example, to The Sun website, where I was alerted by @cathyby and @DrPetra to this odious piece of PR bullshit:

You’re the affair-er sex, girls!

WOMEN are now more likely to cheat than men, a survey reveals.One in five said they would “definitely” have an affair if they fell for another bloke.

In contrast, just nine per cent of fellas were certain they would betray their partner.

The study of 3,000 people has for the first time exposed girls as the bigger love rats.

Wildly-misogynistic with an undercurrent designed to promote the kind of sexual mistrust which can really damage a relationship? I’m sure I read something similar in the not-too-distant past… oh, yes, that’s right, in The Sun:

One in 10 trick dads

One in ten mums TRICKED their fella into getting them pregnant, a survey revealed yesterday.

Top ruses were lying about being on the pill or just not mentioning contraception.

A quarter of those who duped their man said he ‘would have given in one day anyway’, the survey of 3000 mums found.

But half said they were not even bothered if the father stuck around.

Back then it was a poll by my favourite bullshit-mining marketing team OnePoll on behalf of misguided parenting club Bounty, and caused some genuine controversy, more of which you can read here. Although I’ve not seen anything which confirms this, I’d say the angle and the structure of the story strongly reeks of OnePoll again, but that is of course just conjecture. So, back to this latest worthless PR guff (because I’m going somewhere with this) Read the rest of this entry »

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Bad PR: Misogyny on the Bounty

As readers of this site will probably know, I have a bit of a beef when it comes to bullshit PR companies spouting Bad PR, and in particular with a company by the name of OnePoll.com.

OnePoll is an interesting beast – is business model is to pay people around 10p for their participation in a relatively quick online survey, with the idea being that the more surveys you take part in, the more you earn. The upshot of this means the quicker you complete the survey, the faster you can move on to the next one. It also means that when you’re asked a screening question like ‘Are you single or in a relationship?‘, and you can see the name of the survey is ‘Being In Relationships!‘, it’s pretty easy to see that to enter the survey and claim your shiny 10p, you obviously pretend to be in a relationship. Or pretend to be a football fan. Or pretend to be self-employed. Etc. For the sake of your 10p, you enter a load of results which become utterly meaningless.

The speed issue has a knock-on effect elsewhere, too. As I’ve pointed out before, when asked a badly designed question like ‘Which celebrity would you least like to go on holiday with?‘ where the possible responses are from a set list, rather than stopping to think, ‘Actually, I don’t care about any of these people, I’d like to tick the none of the above option, but there isn’t one‘, instead you pick a choice fairly-randomly, fairly-quickly and progress on towards your 10p, and so we get this in the newspapers: Cheryl Cole is celebrity most Brits want to holiday with unlike Katie Price.  I can imagine the most significant factor in these types of questions is often the order the options are presented, rather than their actual content, with a bias towards the options that appear first in the list (that would be my prediction, anyway).

What’s more, to get you started, when you first sign up to One Poll you get something in the region of £2, too – so it feels like a breeze to start really earning. Here’s the kicker though, and of course there is one – before you see a penny of your earnings, you need to accrue £40. At 10p per survey, that’s 400 surveys. I’ve been playing for about months now, and I’m on about £17. So, I can imagine there would be a pretty reasonable fallout rate as people became disillusioned with the process and give up, and thus often OnePoll never have to pay a penny to most of the people they survey. Which makes their business model pretty cheap, then.

Read the rest of this entry »

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