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Ipsos MORI Statistics Research

Published:19 October 2010
Fieldwork:17 October 2010
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Trust in stats damaged

Most of the public do not believe statistics and many do not understand percentages, new research by Ipsos MORI on the eve of World Statistics Day shows.

Over half of the public (54 per cent) are sceptical of Government’s use of official figures, and don’t believe that official figures are produced without political interference (55 per cent).

More of the public do not believe official figures are generally accurate than believe that they are (46 per cent vs. 35 per cent respectively). The youngest (aged 18-34) are generally most likely to be trusting of official figures. Conservatives (though not Lib Dems) are clearly more trusting of Government use of official figures.

Two in three (65 per cent) agree that there are 'lies, damn lies and statistics'.

When asked what 20 per cent is as a fraction, one in three (35 per cent) either gave the wrong answer or did not know.

The very youngest (aged 18-34) and very oldest (aged 65+) are less likely to be able to answer this correctly.

This suggests that many of the public will neither understand nor believe the Government’s latest spending figures.

Commenting on these findings, Founder of MORI Sir Robert Worcester said:

“Official statistics are expected to follow and uphold ‘The National Statistics Code of Practice’. It is clear from the findings that political squabbling and the comparable use of statistics has undermined public trust in official statistics and gives a misleading quantification”

Technical detail

Trust of statistics/official figures questions: Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,009 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone from 15-17 Oct 2010.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

Understanding of percentages question: Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,004 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone from 10-12 Sept 2010.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.


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Graham Keilloh
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