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Today’s key fact: you are probably wrong about almost everything


スクリーンショット 2014-10-29 11.31.00

Britons overstate the proportion of Muslims in their country by a factor of four, according to a new survey by Ipsos Mori that reveals public understanding of the numbers behind the daily news in 14 countries.

People from the UK also think immigrants make up twice the proportion of the population as is really the case – and that many more people are unemployed than actually are.

Such misconceptions are typical around the world, but they can have a significant impact as politicians aim to focus on voter perceptions, not on the actual data.


スクリーンショット 2014-10-29 11.31.57


スクリーンショット 2014-10-29 11.32.07



Yet a study by the German Marshall Fund from 2013 found that 64% of people in the UK see immigration as a problem compared to 29% who see it as an opportunity.

In Germany those numbers flip almost perfectly, with just 32% seeing immigration as a problem compared to 62% viewing it as an opportunity.



The real peril of these misperceptions is how politicians and policymakers react. Do they try to challenge people and correct their view of reality or do they take them as a signal of concern, the result of a more emotional reaction and design policy around them?

Clearly the ideal is to do a bit of both – politicians shouldn’t misread these misperceptions as people simply needing to be re-educated and then their views will change – but they also need to avoid policy responses that just reinforce unfounded fears.




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