There’s a poll here demonstrating how stupid most Britons really are.
It seems most of us think one in four of us is Muslim. Â It’s one in twenty. Â The list goes on and it’s pretty clear we have no clue what really goes on. Â This is no shock to a university teacher. Â It is truly amazing how uniformed our students are – and they are supposed to be the top 50%.
The top ten misperceptions are:
1.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Teenage pregnancy: on average, we think teenage pregnancy is 25 times higher than official estimates:Â we think that 15% of girlsÂ underÂ 16 get pregnant each year, when official figures suggest it is around 0.6%[i].Â
2.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Crime: 58% do not believe that crime is falling, when the Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that incidents of crime were 19% lower in 2012 than in 2006/07 and 53% lower than in 1995[ii].Â 51% think violent crime is rising, when it has fallen from almost 2.5 million incidents in 2006/07 to under 2 million in 2012[iii].
3.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Job-seekers allowance: 29% of people think we spend more on JSA than pensions, when in fact we spend 15 times more on pensions (Â£4.9bn vs Â£74.2bn)[iv].
4.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Benefit fraud: people estimate that 34 times more benefit money is claimed fraudulently than official estimates: the public think that Â£24 out of every Â£100 spent on benefits is claimed fraudulently, compared with official estimates of Â£0.70 per Â£100[v].
5.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â 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 (Â£7.9bn) in the 2011/12 financial year.Â More people select this as a top item of expenditure than pensions (which cost nearly ten times as much, Â£74bn) and education in the UK (Â£51.5bn)[vi].
6.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Religion: we greatly overestimate the proportion of the population who are Muslims: on average we say 24%, compared with 5% in England and Wales.Â And we underestimate the proportion of Christians: we estimate 34% on average, compared with the actual proportion of 59% in England and Wales[vii].
7.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Immigration and ethnicity: the public think that 31% of the population are immigrants, when the official figures are 13%[viii]. Even estimates that attempt to account for illegal immigration suggest a figure closer to 15%.Â There are similar misperceptions on ethnicity: the average estimate is that Black and Asian people make up 30% of the population, when it is actually 11% (or 14% if we include mixed and other non-white ethnic groups)[ix].
8.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Age: we think the population is much older than it actually is â€“ the average estimate is that 36% of the population are 65+, when only 16% are[x].
9.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Benefit bill: people are most likely to think that capping benefits at Â£26,000 per household will save most money from a list provided (33% pick this option), over twice the level that select raising the pension age to 66 for both men and women or stopping child benefit when someone in the household earns Â£50k+.Â In fact, capping household benefits is estimated to save Â£290m[xi], compared with Â£5bn[xii]Â for raising the pension age and Â£1.7bn[xiii]Â for stopping child benefit for wealthier households.
10.Â Â Â Voting: we underestimate the proportion of people who voted in the last general election â€“ our average guess is 43%, when 65% of the electorate actually did (51% of the whole population)[xiv].Â
I think this survey is enough to start sacking teachers and lecturers – I’d want a bit more evidence, but our schools and universities are clearly failing.