Statistics Part 1: A Governmental Guinea Pig

Yes, I personally have been selected to be a guinea pig for the government. Apparently, I’ve got to put on a furry suit and live in a cage for two weeks whilst storing food in my cheek pouches. Or is that hampsters?

No, our family have been selected by allegedly some random sampling of UK households to take part in a survey carried out by NatCen on behalf of the Department for Transport (dft).

Basically, what this involves is answering a whole pile of questions about the transport habits of you and your household (how often you drive anywhere, where do you drive to, do you use public transport, do you walk anywhere, do you ever cycle — only in a lot more detail than this), and then they ask you to fill out a diary for a week.

There are in fact five diaries to fill in, one for each member of the household (including those aged 3 and 1, but apparently the adults are allowed to help them) and another one for the car, bless it. The researcher did notice that I had some cats, but as I didn’t get a diary from them I’m presuming that they are exempt from the survey. We are expected to record the details of every journey made, anywhere, from the 27th of April to the 3rd of May.

There’s also a specific website set up for the National Travel Survey, which tells those people who are taking part (and anyone else who might actually happen to be interested) what the whole thing is about.

Of course, being the dedicated blogger that I am, I asked whether this all had to be kept under wraps and be entirely hush-hush, or whether I was allowed to tell you all that my travel habits over that particular week will be taken as representative of the country. I’m allowed to tell you, it seems. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to bring with it any power or influence, because I’d guess the majority of you couldn’t give a toss. Still, I got two free ballpoint pens out of the deal!

And I now actually have some evidence that all these statistics that get trotted out from time to time aren’t necessarily made up on the spot…

One Response to “Statistics Part 1: A Governmental Guinea Pig”

  1. mark fairlamb responds:

    i was chosen to fill in a survey once (what newspapers do you read, what cigars do you smoke, how often do you drink red wine sort of thing). i was promised loads of vouchers and offers if i filled it all in. what i actually got was offers to buy insurance and take out loans and vouchers for money off expensive car servicing.
    we also got loads of phone calls from asians trying to sell us mortgages until we got that bt privacy thing.

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