Sunday, September 25, 2016

Death vs. Public Speaking?

On March 19, 2015 Chad Biggs had a post on the blog for Red Sky (PR) here in Boise titled Death vs. Public Speaking? How to Harness Your Nerves. He opened by trying to scare folks with the claim that:

“It seems ridiculous. An anomaly. A statistical error. But according to research from two Bruskin/Goldring research studies more than 15 years apart, public speaking is the number one fear of Americans. That tops heights, illness and even death.”

He followed those words with a bar chart borrowed without attribution from my May 19, 2011 blog post titled America’s Number One Fear: Public Speaking - that 1993 Bruskin-Goldring Survey. But actually the previous survey was done by Bruskin (not Bruskin/Goldring) back in 1973 - exactly twenty years earlier and not the vague more than fifteen. My post had ended by mentioning Geoffrey Brewer’s March 19, 2001 article on the GALLUP web site titled Snakes Top List of Americans’ Fears. Public speaking came second in both their 2001 and 1998 surveys.

Another of my blog posts on April 2, 2014 discussed how a YouGov survey of U.S. adults found they most commonly were very afraid of snakes, heights, public speaking, and being closed in a small space. For A Little Afraid public speaking came first, and for the sum of Very Afraid and A Little Afraid it came third, after snakes and heights.

On October 30, 2015 I blogged about how According to the 2015 Chapman Survey of American Fears, adults are less than Afraid of federal government Corruption and only Slightly Afraid of Public Speaking. That survey ranked public speaking #26 out of 89 fears.So the #1 fear claim really doesn't hold water.

An image of the martyrdom of King Louis XVI came from the Library of Congress.

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