Wednesday 8 April 2015

Junk Statistics 5

Some statistics are reliable. Others just get passed around. You can always get the Straight Dope at And now we've got all this equality, surely women have nothing to whine about?

Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
(Gore Vidal)

One of the most popular images circulated by libertarians on the Internet is of a blue plaque commemorating a house in Notting Hill where Orwell lived, complete with a security camera mounted beside it on the white stucco facade. Actually the image is a complete fake [...]
Reputable newspapers and broadcasters still tell you there are more than 4 million security cameras in the U.K. and that the average person can be captured by 300 cameras in any one day. [...] The problem is that few of these stories are based on any facts. Times columnist David Aaronovitch researched the much-cited "300 cameras in a day" story and debunked it as an urban myth -- a diligent piece of public skepticism that inspired the Full Fact website, which now makes regular checks of the untested assertions that fill the British press. As for the 4 million cameras report, an evidence-based survey calculated the number was less than half of that, and that 95 percent of the cameras were privately owned by shops, businesses, and homes. If anyone is watching you, it’s not Big Brother, but your neighbour."
(Daily Beast. Surveillance is nothing new. MI5 used to have a room - and a kettle - in all the major sorting offices.)

UK female academics earn nearly £6K less than men (gaps of £10-12K in some institutions). (Times Higher Educational Supplement)

History students: 60% women. History professors? 20% women.

Women are 56% of low-wage workers. (Economic Policy Institute)

Women make up 60% of the world’s working poor, but on average they are paid between 10% to 30% less than men. (Sathnam Sanghera)

60,000 women a year lose their jobs due to pregnancy (Independent, Dec 2013)

In 2013, the top 10 highest-paid actor made a collective $465m. the top 10 highest-paid actresses made $181m. (Guardian)

In Hollywood male actors earn 10 times more than female, says Hilary Swank.

Fewer than a third of all speaking roles in film go to women. (UN report September 2014)

60% of art school graduates are female; 20% of work sold in London galleries is by women artists. (BBC2)

Researching with @Tate's online catalogue I noticed something about their collection: 70,707 male artists, 3,183 female artists. Hmm. (Dr Ayla Lepine ‏@heartchitecture)

Women still earn only 82p for every £1 a man earns, though gender pay gap has shrunk. (BBC Nov 2014. But there isn’t really a gender pay gap because [reason].)

Domestic violence is now the leading cause of injury and death in women under 45 in Australia. (ABC)

Study finds “violence in the home” biggest source of violence in the world. (Dec 2014)

More than 850 Pakistani women were murdered by their families in 2013. (

About 40% of domestic violence abuse victims are male. (Home Office, British Crime Survey)

Scottish statistics covering the 10 years to 2011-12 show that 51% of the female victims of homicide aged 16 to 70 were killed by their partner, compared with 6% of male victims. For Northern Ireland, the equivalent figures for the five years to 2013-14 are 73% for women and 3% for men. (BBC)

Single parents are twice as likely to be poor.  (Gingerbread)

Couples who stay together can boost their income by an average 35%. (Daily Mail)

Married people have up to 300% more sex than single people. (True, says letter to LRB)

Atheists make up less than 1% of the US prison population. (United States Federal Bureau of Prisons)

Office of National Statistics says rates of conception for under-18s in England & Wales are at their lowest since records began in 1969.

"I'm just saying what everyone's thinking." UKIP has now at last demonstrated how large this "everyone" is - about 15-20% of population. (Will Wiles)

Joseph Rowntree Foundation research reveals that less than 1% of workless households had two generations in which no-one had ever worked. Not a single “three-generation jobless family” was found. 17% of households have one generation workless. The study found no evidence for a “culture of worklessness”.

Muslims make up 5% of the German population. (Pew Research)

Amazon deforestation in Brazil drops 18% in 2013/2014. (Brazilian government figures)

Retailers selling 25 types of jam sell less jam than the shop selling eight types. (Ben Page of IPSOS MORI)

59% of the British cabinet, three-quarters of senior judges, half of diplomats, etc, went to Oxbridge. (Financial Times)

Only 7% in Britain are privately educated, and yet graduates of private schools make up 71% of senior judges, 62% of the senior armed forces and 55% of permanent secretaries. Only 7% of members of the public attended a private school. But 71% of senior judges, 62% of senior officers in the armed forces, 55% of permanent secretaries in Whitehall, 53% of senior diplomats, 50% of members of the House of Lords and 45% of public body chairs did so. So too did 44% of people on the Sunday Times Rich List, 43% of newspaper columnists, 36% of cabinet ministers, 33% of MPs, 26% of BBC executives and 22% of shadow cabinet ministers. (Sutton Trust)

40% of British children leave school without a C grade in maths and English. (Economist)

Immigrants contribute more to the UK than they cost. (Al Jazeera)

There are fewer Romanians working in Britain since January. (Huffpost, May 2014)

The statistic “1 in 4 will suffer mental health problems in a lifetime”, quoted everywhere, is an understatement, says Hugh Porter, head of

Tax fraud is 15 times greater than benefit fraud, but the media talk about benefit fraud 600% more. (Huffington Post)

The UK porn business has shrunk by 90% in the last seven years. (Jerry Barnett, founder of Sex and Censorship)

Pregnancy and abortion rates plunged in study offering sexually active teenagers free birth control. (New York Times)

[In the US,] women’s colleges are going co-ed in an effort to combat years of decline in revenue. Enrollment at women-only colleges fell 29% since 2000. (Time Magazine Oct 2014. Women-only colleges were founded because men’s colleges wouldn’t admit women.)

Blue-eyed people have more children. (And so do short women. Greater mate choice.)

Most UFOs are seen during drinking hours. (Economist. And most ghosts and apparitions are seen when people are “lying down”, according to one lecturer.)

In 2013 in the UK, there were 40% fewer emergencies of all kinds for the fire service than ten years ago. (Health and Safety? Smoking bans?)


In 1800, 40% of British women were pregnant when they married.

More people a year are killed by falling coconuts than are killed by sharks (150/5). (Citations needed.)

Does cannabis cause a quarter of psychosis cases? (But smoking skunk makes you three times as likely to develop a psychotic disorder.)

£1.2bn lost to benefit fraud £30bn lost to tax fraud £70bn lost to tax avoidance. (In which year?)

Number of CoE vicars has fallen by 40% since the 60s. And congregations have halved. (Citation needed.)

According to IEA: 'British drinkers now pay 40% of the EU’s entire alcohol duty bill.' Is this true? (Rob Baker ‏@robnitm Institute of Economic Affairs?)

There are now more foxes in London than double-decker buses.

90% of everything written in English uses just 1,000 words.

An estimated 37,940 hectares of previously developed land were vacant or derelict, that's 55% of the total. (@MrGeorgeClarke. In which year?)

35,000 UK kids reached out to a suicide hotline last year for help…an 18% rise.

Only 8% of immigrants speak no English. And of those, over 80% are women over 70 who, for cultural reasons, mainly stay in the home. (Citation needed.)

80% rise in cases of wild mushroom poisoning in the UK, thanks to the foraging movement. (Junk – The National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) says the number of incidents reported has remained steady between 200 and 300 in each of the last five years. Quoted in the Guardian.)

1877 was the year in which more alcohol per head was drunk than before or since. (If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, Lucy Worsley)

Four in ten people in Britain admit that they possess kitchen gadgets they no longer use. (If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, Lucy Worsley)

40% of antiques on the market are fakes. (Put about by the TV programme Treasure Detectives, and much questioned.)

The majority of economic migrants rent privately with only a small proportion relying on social housing. (Citation needed.)

More here, and links to the rest.

1 comment:

  1. I'm always suspicious of the numbers of people claimed to be watching eg the oscars - it seems to me the figure given is just the number of people living in a country where the oscar ceremony is shown, and thus is a wild overestimate.