Two thirds of men have contemplated hitting their wives with a widget

John Kay is on good form this morning on the subject of the psuedo-survey, concocted for PR purposes:

Universal Widgets is not a very interesting company, widgets are not a very interesting product, and Nigel Snooks, the chief executive, is not a very interesting man. But a survey that shows that two-thirds of men have contemplated hitting their wives with a widget will produce many media slots in which Mr Snooks of Universal Widgets can recount the findings.

Here’s Ben Goldacre on a similar subject:

These “cash for bad science” stories add nothing to our understanding of the world, and they do nothing to promote science. They sell products, pay money, misrepresent the very notion of doing research, and sell the idea that scientists are irrelevant boffins engaged in pointless head scratching.

We might try to look into this for More or Less.

Tim Harford’s blog

This blog is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Tim, also known as the Undercover Economist, writes about the economics of everyday life.