The flaws of perception

Benefit tales

“Most people are poor at numbers of all kinds” says Ben Page in his introduction to IPSOS MORI’s review of the year. It’s well worth reading and includes an interesting chapter on the worrying gap between public perceptions and reality.

Earlier this year IPSOS MORI asked a representative sample of people for their opinion on some key facts and figures about the country they inhabit.  Some of the mean responses, with the true figure in brackets, were as follows: 

  • 25 percent of the population is Muslim (true figure 5 percent)
  • 31 percent of the population are immigrants (true figure 13 percent)
  • 15 percent of teenage girls under 16 fall pregnant (0.6 percent in reality)
  • £24 out every £100 of benefit spending is claimed fraudulently (it’s actually 70p)
  • Crime is rising (it’s been falling for years).
  • 22 percent of people are unemployed (true figure 8 percent)
  • 30 percent are black or…

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