Saturday, 6 August 2011

More or less disappointing

Here's an interesting footnote on the "browesrgate", AKA the "Internet Explorer for Dummies" fiasco. The BBC, which should know better, ran with the story. The first episode in the new series of Radio 4's excellent More or Less programme dished the dirt on what happened. Apparently, somebody at the beeb was diligent enough to ask a mathematician and a statistician whether the "survey" allegedly revealing the intellectual shortcomings of IE users  looked kosher. Both experts concluded that the story sounded fishy in several ways. In particular, the quoted average IQ figure for IE users was so low that the alleged IE users would scarcely have had the basic skills needed to use a web browser of any kind. But the alarm bells were disregarded and the corporation ran with the story anyway.

The beeb did withdraw the story later, but only when they discovered that the research company that produced the survey was bogus. Real companies are already flooding the media with "surveys" that have more to do with PR and marketing than accuracy and objectivity. Given how much information effluent is already sloshing around the system, there's a good chance that anything that smells suspect is just that. Tabloids are just a series of pipes for delivering sewage from the PR toilet to the consumer's brainstem, but I expected better information hygiene in the BBC.

More sad news from hoaxland. "Jacob Rees-Moog-gate" is no more. Apparently, 'Rees-Mogg closes down @jakereesmogg threat of legal action'. Sic transit gloria mundi.