This should be fun.
My first question is how they are going to do this? They say they are going to assess 10,000 households, so are they going to call around to each household? Are they going to examine the medical records of those households? Or are they just going to phone people up and torture them with a battery of irritating questions?
My money is on the latter.
Now I have a problem with telephone surveys. In fact my problem with them is so big I would discount them out of hand as being a complete waste of time and effort.
You see our dear Nanny Gubmint has been harping on for years about smoking, and lately about alcohol and obesity. They have successfully implanted the idea into the minds of the sheeple that smoking is evil; that being overweight is disgusting and shameful and that anything over a glass of beer a week means you are a raving alcoholic. As a result people won’t even admit to themselves how much they eat, drink or smoke, let alone tell a total stranger. They will play down the figures and lie through their teeth because they want to give the impression that they are moral upright citizens.
Q. Do you smoke?
A. No. *Well, ten a day doesn’t really count as smoking? And anyway I intend to quit. Sometime.*
Q. Do you consider yourself a light, moderate or heavy drinker?
A. Light. *Paddy down the pub sinks twelve pints a night so he would be a heavy drinker where I only have eight, so I’m a light drinker*
Q. Would you consider yourself obese?
A. Definitely not. *I have been eighteen stone for years now. It’s my normal weight. I’m big boned.*
The questions themselves are always slanted and in some cases are impossible to answer. Take for example the question “Do you smoke?” I answer yes [though sometimes I’ll answer no because I know what’s coming]. “How many cigarettes a day do you smoke?” And there is the problem. I don’t smoke cigarettes [I hate the taste and the smell] and am a pipe smoker, so how can I possibly translate that into their standard yardstick of cigarette numbers? There is never a question about how much tobacco I smoke, so it ends up with a sort of guesstimate which would be hopelessly wrong. I have never ever come across a survey that includes a section for pipe smokers.
On the question of obesity, are they going to ask what weight people are? If so that is a hopeless yardstick and anyway people will always understate their weight [the last time I weighed myself I was wearing pants, socks and a wristwatch so I have to allow about half a stone for them?]. Or are they going to use that old chestnut – Body Mass Index? Not only has that been discredited but no one knows their BMI anyway. I cannot think of any form of question that could possibly determine whether a person is overweight or not, as normal weight depends on stature, bone structure and muscle to fat ratios – none of which can be determined by a telephone questionnaire.
As for drinking – no one ever admits how much they drink. By the time I crawl home from the pub after eight pints I will have firmly convinced myself I had four, and when Herself asks, I round that to three. The woman who necks a bottle of Blossom Hill a day is going to admit she “occasionally has a glass”. And everyone knows that a couple of pints at lunchtime with the lads from the office just doesn’t count as drinking.
What worries me about this “survey” is that they are going to take it as a yardstick to beat us over the head with in the years to come.
So if anyone phones you and asks you to take a simple survey on the nation’s health…..
Lie like fuck.