Poll: Spaniards massively overestimate the number of people in their country who are Muslims, unemployed or teenage mothers

If you want people pay less attention to you and your group, I would suggest not starting riots over things like cartoons and YouTube move trailers.

When asked about social topics ranging from teenage birth rates to life expectancy, unemployment and immigration, Spaniards proved to be the fourth ‘least ignorant’ of the fourteen nationalities surveyed by polling company Ipsos.

But most of their answers were still way off the mark in the “Perils of Perception” survey…

The study included the question: “Out of every 100 people, how many do you think are Muslim?”

In Spain, the correct answer is 2 percent, but Spaniards guessed 16 percent.

Spaniards also guessed that 16 percent of girls in their country between 15 and 19 gave birth each year. The true figure was one percent.

US citizens thought that 24 percent of teenagers fitted into this category, whereas the actual figure there is three percent…

There have been a raft of these articles, supposedly indicating the stupidity of the general public. I have a two comments.

On the teenage girl question, the pollsters have deliberately introduced skewing by asking how many ‘gave birth each year.’  The average person is far more likely to think: what fraction of teenage girls will give birth at any time in their teenage years. They select 15-19, five years. So naturally, the respondents think of the entire five year span and give much higher figures.

The wording of the question is so odd that one is tempted to think the pollsters were aiming for skewed results.

The guesses are still higher, even with this taken into account, and that brings me to my second point, regarding Muslims. The fraction of the population that is Muslim just seems higher because they cause so much damn trouble! They are always in the news. They often get there deliberately by staging demonstrations too.

Groups who cause problems and get in the news a lot will always seem to be a higher a fraction of the population than they really are.  That proves just one obvious thing: it is human nature.  And it may have even been an evolutionary advantage: why pay attention to things that are not of any danger to you and your society?

The gloating tone of the article is misplaced.  It just another “dump on the stupid public and their worrying over teenage pregnancy and Muslims” piece.