Democracy is dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed.
Unfortunately, UK government ministers and the right-wing press have made sure that we are misinformed about (almost) everything – here is the result. The chart is the result of an Ipsos.MORI poll examining the difference between peoples’ perceptions (mean estimates) and reality (actual) when asked questions about the UK population.
Here is another example from the Ipsos.MORI poll (referenced below):
Teenage pregnancy: on average, we think teenage pregnancy is 25 times higher than official estimates: we think that 15% of girls under 16 get pregnant each year, when official figures suggest it is around 0.6%[i].
Here is the reality
“With the lowest numbers recorded since 1969, the teenage pregnancy rate is proof of all the hard work of sexual health and education professionals, and the lasting legacy of the decade-long Teenage Pregnancy Strategy.
Read more at http://www.fpa.org.uk/news/teen-pregnancy-rates-continue-fall-england-and-wales#1CdvzfTmfHPWh1cR.99
Was this news on the front page of the Daily Mail. Of course not – it did not fit their alternative reality. It would only be on their front page if they could somehow twist the data into a moral outrage about increasing teenage pregnancy. Even the Mail has failed to manage this – so far.
More from the IpsosMORI poll:
Foreign aid: 26% of people think foreign aid is one of the top 2-3 items government spends most money on, when it actually made up 1.1% of expenditure (£7.9bn) in the 2011/12 financial year. More people select this as a top item of expenditure than pensions (which cost nearly ten times as much, £74bn) and education in the UK (£51.5bn).
Benefit fraud: people estimate that 34 times more benefit money is claimed fraudulently than official estimates: the public think that £24 out of every £100 spent on benefits is claimed fraudulently, compared with official estimates of £0.70 per £100.
These two pieces of research indicate the gap between perception and reality in the British public:
The IpsosMORI Poll – Perceptions are not reality: http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3188/Perceptions-are-not-reality.aspx
British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-public-wrong-about-nearly-everything-survey-shows-8697821.html
“Watching Only Fox News Makes You Less Informed Than Watching No News At All” http://www.businessinsider.com/study-watching-fox-news-makes-you-less-informed-than-watching-no-news-at-all-2012-5#ixzz2o2UEgHzE
These are just a few examples of government ministers misinforming the public:
David Cameron Rebuked For Making Misleading Economy Claim, Again: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/03/08/david-cameron-obr-economy-growth_n_2836515.html
Ministers who misuse statistics to mislead voters must pay the price. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/31/ministers-misuse-statistics-resign
Minister rebuked over immigration statistics: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-16730433
Incapacity benefit test claims ‘conflated figures’ – watchdog: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22720007
Iain Duncan Smith criticised over benefit cap figures: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-22462265
Duncan Smith ‘clarifies’ Commons slip over benefit data: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11792700
This gives just a few recent examples of tabloid misinformation:
The Daily Mail & The Sun continue to undermine their own case for press freedom: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=2837
The Lies of Right Wing Tories, Blairites, Free Marketeers and Neolibertarians: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=2017
Some Questions for our local MP John Glen: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=1789
Cameron won’t make me a Minister… I’m a white, married, Home Counties Christian, says Tory MP John Glen: http://www.reasonandreality.org/?p=1494
As usual, please let me know if there are any errors in the text above so that I can make corrections.