Sunday, November 8, 2009

Britain’s 10 biggest fears revealed - just in time for Halloween

The October 30 edition of The Independent had a Halloween-inspired article by Grace Chapman containing a list of top ten fears, which are summarized in the bar chart shown below. Some of the data was buried in captions shown with a set of images, and stated only roughly. Public speaking wasn’t at the very top – it came in at number five. She said that:

“…Research found that Britons' biggest fear is of spiders. Despite the size difference and our ability to stamp on them with ease these eight legged enemies cause two fifths of us to leap onto the nearest chair in fright; next scariest is heights, with 35 per cent of us admitting we'd struggle to hold our nerve when faced with a drop; while 21 per cent would get stage fright at the thought of public speaking.

Irrational or not, many Brits have a genuine fear of the paranormal and the supernatural. Almost a quarter of us get scared by the prospects of aliens ‘out there’ and two out of five are afraid of ghosts, spirits and poltergeists which might explain the two million Brits who sleep with the light on...”

Compare the two paragraphs of text, and my chart. They don’t match. Didn’t newspapers used to check their facts before they published? Some poltergeists or ghosts must have been playing with their data just before Halloween. They changed things so they could come in second on the list, ahead of heights. Thus the rankings in the article are pretty bogus.

The article claims that the research was done by Opinion Matters ahead of EA’s launch of the new Dead Space Extraction video game which was described as a Nintendo Wii fright-fest. No sample size was listed for the survey and no hyperlink was given to a press release, or to the original data. However she did say that 80% of Britons enjoy a good horror movie, and 25% would sit down with a scary video game.

No comments: