Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Not So Fast

Before all you Americans go piling on the Brits for thinking Sherlock Holmes was real and Churchill was a myth, read the articles closely.

Paul Moreton, the channel head of UKTV Gold, which commissioned the poll, said that while there was no excuse for demoting real historical figures such as Churchill, the elevation of mythical figures to real life showed the impact good films could have in shaping the public consciousness.

"Stories like Robin Hood are so inspiring that it's not surprising people like to believe these characters truly existed," he said.

Outrageous defense of ignorance, right? But what the articles don't tell you is that UKTV Gold is touting its series on Robin Hood -- which just may be why he picked that name out of the pack -- and the "survey" was part of that effort.

As for the survey itself, here is the station's page about it. It tells you nothing about methodology, how the questions were asked, how the respondants were chosen, who did the questioning, when, or anything else you need to know to judge whether this was a real survey of knowledge or just a bullshit publicity stunt.

It worked as the latter, whether it's good polling or not. The real stupidity, it turns out, may be the world media, not the British people.