20/20 survey exposé. Refer to the “Statistics in Action” box of this chapter (p. 1). Recall that the popular primetime ABC television program 20/20 presented several misleading (and possibly unethical) surveys in a segment titled “Fact or Fiction?—Exposés of So-Called Surveys.” The information reported from four of these surveys and a more recent survey are reproduced here (actual survey facts are provided in parentheses).
• Quaker Oats study: Eating oat bran is a cheap and easy way to reduce your cholesterol count. (Fact: Diet must consist of nothing but oat bran to achieve a slightly lower cholesterol count.)
• March of Dimes report: Domestic violence causes more birth defects than all medical issues combined. (Fact: No study—false report.)
• American Association of University Women (AAUW) study: Only 29% of high school girls are happy with themselves, compared to 66% of elementary school girls. (Fact: Of 3,000 high school girls, 29% responded, “Always true” to the statement “I am happy the way I am.” Most answered, “Sort of true” and “Sometimes true.”)
• Food Research and Action Center study: One in four American children under age 12 is hungry or at risk of hunger. (Fact: Based on responses to questions: “Do you ever cut the size of meals?” and “Do you ever eat less than you feel you should?” and “Did you ever rely on limited numbers of foods to feed your children because you were running out of money to buy food for a meal?”)
• McKinsey survey on the health reform act: Thirty percent of employers would “definitely” or “probably” stop offering health coverage to their employees if the government-sponsored act is passed. (Fact: Employers were asked leading questions that made it seem logical for them to stop offering insurance. For example, respondents were told that the new health insurance exchanges would become “an easy, affordable way for individuals to obtain health insurance” outside the company. Then they were given examples of how little their workers would pay for this insurance. Only then were they asked how likely they would be to stop offering health insurance.)
a. Refer to the Quaker Oats study relating oat bran to cholesterol levels. Discuss why it is unethical to report the results as stated.
b. Consider the false March of Dimes report on domestic violence and birth defects. Discuss the type of data required to investigate the impact of domestic violence on birth defects. What data-collection method would you recommend? c. Refer to the AAUW study of self-esteem of high school girls. Explain why the results of the study are likely to be misleading. What data might be appropriate for assessing the self-esteem of high school girls?
d. Refer to the Food Research and Action Center study of hunger in America. Explain why the results of the study are likely to be misleading. What data would provide insight into the proportion of hungry American children?
e. Refer to the McKinsey survey on the health reform act. Explain what a “leading question” is and why it might produce responses that bias the results.
Step 1 of 6:
Given that, the popular prime time ABC television program 20/20 presented several misleading (and possibly unethical) surveys.
Given the information reported from four of these surveys and a more recent survey are reproduced here.