The Telegraph, Guardian, the Daily Mail, and many others are reporting that British women have questionable hygiene habits.
What about the media's questionable fact checking habits? Here's my original criticism of the research.
Reputable polling organizations - Ipsos, YouGov, Pew to name a few - go to great lengths to ensure that their research adheres to strict standards before disclosure (often beyond the code of ethics defined by the industry body within their respective territories). Here is Ipsos MORI's publication policy in the UK.
Now it seems that anyone with a SurveyMonkey subscription and an email list or social media audience (no matter how unrepresentative) can conduct a survey that will be reported by the mainstream media as long as the findings are attention grabbing.
The Telegraph reports today that "four out of five women admit they don't shower every day, and a third say they can go for three days without washing their body". The article then introduces us to Maxine Flint of Flint+Flint - manufacturers of a range of skincare products and the enterprise behind the research - who reports "alarm" at the findings and highlights us to the importance of a daily skin care routine.
There is no mention in the article or on Flint+Flint's website of the survey fieldwork dates; methodology; sample frame (other than the women's age range); questions asked; or the involvement of a credible and impartial fieldwork partner. A quick search on Flint+Flint's website highlights us to another recent study conducted by the company where it surveyed 2,010 women between the ages of 18-30 in Skin Health Spas, clinics owned by the brand's founders. There are five in total.
I'll leave it to you to decide if this finding is a fair representation of women's hygiene habits.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Think about that last spreadsheet you circulated to your business partners. Are you absolutely sure it was correct? One hundred percent sure?
How many spreadsheets are found to contain errors? One in ten? Five in ten? According to those in the know at the European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group (EuSpRIG or "YewSprig"), nine in ten spreadsheets are "materially incorrect". In other words, most spreadsheets contain errors that are potentially of great consequence.
Still have confidence in that spreadsheet? Want to feed your anxiety further? Then read on.
EuSpRIG collates and comments on high profile spreadsheet horror stories that have resulted in the loss of millions of dollars as well as egg on the face of economists at Harvard; forecasters at AstraZeneca; traders at JP Morgan; vote counters at Pueblo County; the CFO of the Town of Framingham; and others. The documented slip ups include copying and pasting errors; data entry errors; logic errors; bad formulas; bad links; accidental publishing of confidential data; confused versioning; hidden rows; and, of course, typos. EuSpRIG offers a number of papers as well as an annual conference promoting best practice but, as a starting point, most of the aforementioned errors could have be avoided if users had received proper training then oversight to ensure their outputs were double-checked and reviewed by peers.