the survey says…

All the time we hear that surveys or studies say this or that. I'm always wary when I hear phrases like, "studies show" or "surveys reveal" without attribution. A particularly good one is the passive, "it is said."

I suspect that some of the results come from, or did come from, the story I tell below.

When I was in grades 7 through 9, at that time called "junior high", I remember an almost weekly ritual in home room (the first mini period of the day set aside for attendance taking and other bureaucratic matters). The homeroom teacher would find a manila envelope on her/his desk with slips of paper that were the week's survey.

Some teachers said nothing more than "mark these and pass them back in," while I remember other teachers complaining about the event.

The teachers who complained said things along these lines:

  • "This takes time that I'm supposed to use in other ways."
  • "I'm supposed to tell you that this is required, but do what you want and hand the slip back in."
  • "I don't know who these are from nor how they will be used, so it's up to you."
  • "I've had it with this shit."

I am just kidding on the last one, though my band director would have been likely to have said something like that. He was a great man.

Often the surveys were about lifestyle, like diet and exercise. The nosiest ones were about drug use. I was tired of these things and was agreeing with the complaining teachers, so after a few of them, I started to act up (on paper).

The best one was one of the illegal drug use ones. I answered something like this:

  • Q1: Which of the following drugs have you used in the past month? (I liked the sound of LSD and heroin, so I marked those.)
  • Q2: How long have you used the selections marked above? (I put "one year" to be believable. I didn't want to push it back into elementary school.)
  • Q3: When was the last time you used any of the selections above? (Past 24 hours!)

About a year later I was reading a magazine and saw a shocking factoid: "76% of school students between the ages of 13 and 16 have used illegal drugs!" It then gave a breakdown of which ones and frequency of use.

OMG, I was not alone!

10 responses to “the survey says…

  1. lifeguardlifer

    thats kind of funny, when you think about it

  2. You've just given the first documentary evidence I've seen of what we all really know but nobody takes into account when survey results of kids are published: kids know how, and enjoy, feeding fake answers. Never trust self-reported stats from kids.

  3. Stats are there to be shot down,for example..76% of how many,5-10-20-100-1000?and how many kids would admit to taking drugs?kids are street wise,something these magazines are not,kids will tell you what you like to hear,i know,i was a kid once…:D

  4. where would politicians be without their stats to blag our heads with,i find these statisticians stomach churning,mainly because they think we are all idiots,and that we actually believe what they say.:doh:

  5. Originally posted by keederboy:

    Stats are there to be shot down

    Exactly.It points to a lot of what we hear daily as being crap, just stuff to fill a column or a few moments of airtime.It has been decades since I was school-kid recipient of the surveys above, so the questions and percentage mentioned are all approximate, just as best as I can remember them. The main point is that after the most memorable drug survey, I saw an almost direct repeat of it in a magazine as if it were fact.Some of the health/lifestyle surveys that we got in school were obvious shills for corporations like soft-drink manufacturers. Most of the health questions were just decoys to keep your mind off the two or three questions the corporation wanted to know: which soft drink do you and your family prefer, who buys it, etc. I could see through that even at age 14. Imagine intruding in a school day to do your product research.I should have done a piece for the school newspaper back then about trying to find out who was behind all that, but I wasn't together enough then to think of it, and it probably would have angered the admins.

  6. yes,a great advert for alka seltzer..:D

  7. Originally posted by keederboy:

    i find these statisticians stomach churning

    Sometimes looking at the politicians makes my stomach hurt. 😆

  8. lifeguardlifer

    drop…drop…fizz…oh what a relief it is

  9. That's kind of funny, and I wonder if the irony struck you, right then and there too.I often found that in a lot of surveys, I would answer "politically correct", instead of the plain truth. Now I no longer participate, but I figure I wouldn't have been the only one answering "politically correct" rather than the plain and often downright hard and ugly truth.In general, statistics shown in the media, are part of an agenda. Propaganda or serving ( "justifying" ) a stream of necessary measures to be taken.In itself, the results of a survey – often presented or abused as a statistic – are pretty useless unless all data is available. Statistics handled by politicians, I have come to understand, are seldom to be trusted. edit: I forgot to add that just this evening I watched a video of Stefan Molyneux on youtube. He used the statistics and numbers no politician would ever use. It is very similar to asking the right question. Instead of giving the – manipulated – number of unemployed, he presented the number of actually employed and how many of those were government employed. Needless to say, it gave a very sobering, even depressing, stat.

  10. thats the jingle from the 50's or 60's

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