The Daily Express has 29 million imaginary friends

SUDDENLY, the nights are drawing in. The sky is filling with the smoky grey clots of churning vapour that herald the annual return of Boreas and his frigid kingdom of shade and bluster. Worst of all, men, women and children are forced to eat their tea in the dark because no-one has invented the light bulb yet.

From the darkness rises our saviour, St. Desmond, at the vanguard of the heroic Crusade for Change. Where the Daily Express leads, an army 29 million strong follows

Wait, 29 million? That sounds a bit much, surely? The turnout at the last general election was only 29.6 million – are you telling me as many people care about the Daily Express‘s “crusade” as care about national politics in general?

In fact, all that happened is that Santander carried out a survey, and 58% of those polled said that the government should look at the current Summer Time system. Not that they definitely agreed with the Express, just that they thought it might be worth checking. The Daily Express has then multiplied this figure by 50 million – a ballpark estimate of the population of England – and assumed that therefore 29 million people must be in favour.

Without being able to see the survey, there’s no way of knowing how representative of the British population this survey is. Already though, one thing seems clear; while the Express talks about 29 million Britons, it might be more accurate to say 29 million Englanders. Messing with British Summer Time is somewhat less popular in Scotland and the North of England, as the Daily Express itself secretly recognises.

Let’s look at some of the other findings of the study.

According to the study, 45 per cent will feel unusually depressed during the daylight-starved winter months.

Concerns are also mounting about children walking home in the dark and the danger of personal injury, with one in four people saying they feel more at risk as evenings draw in.

In addition, some 36 per cent – 17.7 million people – believe there is an increased chance of road traffic accidents, and one in four also insist they feel more at risk from burglary.

In other words, 3 in 4 do not feel more at risk, 64% of people did not say they believed there was an increased chance of road traffic accidents, and 3 in 4 do not feel at risk of burglary. Bringing seasonal affective disorder (winter depression) into this is a low blow – it appears to be caused not by clock changes, but just by the fact that there is less light overall during winter.

I’m not sure how much difference clock changes would have to some of those anyway. There is good evidence that “double summer time” reduces traffic accidents in England (but raises them in Scotland), but I couldn’t find any evidence about the others – there are some papers on whether clock changes can cause depression, but the conclusions look, well, inconclusive.

So, in the interests of improving the state of mathematics, I’m going to poll the entire world about whether the Daily Express needs remedial lessons on how to use statistics and surveys. That means potentially upwards of 6,877,939,067 voters, all weighing in. Lend us your opinion, have your say, and help my Crusade for Change!

(Hat tip to Exclarotive)

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  1. #1 by Primly Stable on Thursday, 28th October 2010 - 17:34 UTC

    If the Express REALLY enjoy longer evenings, why not campaign to put the clocks forward by another hour or so in winter? Dawn won’t break over London until about 10am, but at least it’ll be light until after 7pm!

    BTW, I’m intrigued as to how the Express thinks fiddling with the clocks can increase the number of daylight hours. I’m pretty sure the angle of the earth’s axis in relation to the sun has more of an impact.

  2. #2 by ukenagashi on Thursday, 28th October 2010 - 17:37 UTC

    I have totally cast my vote as an upstanding citizen of THE WORLD.

  3. #3 by Daffy on Thursday, 28th October 2010 - 18:09 UTC

    I think this is so important that I’d like to be counted at least twice. Thanks ;)

  4. #4 by MacGuffin on Thursday, 28th October 2010 - 18:28 UTC

    Great post highlighting a pathetic, delsuional Express headline.

    After a two-and-a-half month campaign it doesn’t appear the Express has actually achieved very much…

  5. #5 by Jack on Thursday, 28th October 2010 - 19:13 UTC

    Sorry, the Daily Express wants something to be changed? Usually the Express/Mail (and it’s readers) moan about change.

    I bet if it was being done to bring us in sync with the rest of Europe it would be “EU meddling with our time zones!!!”

  6. #6 by GrahamH on Thursday, 28th October 2010 - 22:51 UTC

    Ah Jack you beat me too it.
    That was the point I was going to make..

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