Misleading Readers

Do I like this layout? I’m not so sure…It’s nice but I find a bit hard to read.

Anyway, this is not the topic of this entry.

The other day, I went with my brother in some shop that sells magazines and newspapers. There are very few magazines in the world that interest me, so I was quickly taking a look at what they had, when I saw one of those stupid eye-catching magazines that love to make a scandal out of everything. Can’t remember the name.

On the main page, as with every magazine, were a few images and some text concerning articles, meant to attract your attention. One of the titles was “Binge Drinking”, followed by the line “85% of people below 15 have already drunken alcohol” (my wording might be different, but the numbers were the same).

Now, there was no arrow pointing the title with the text saying “We are talking about binge drinking in this statistic”, but the laws of common sense dictate that a title must be related to what’s just below. And when your title is followed by statistics, the statistics must pertain to the title. In this particular case, it isn’t so at all!

Now, an average reader passing by will scan the magazine covers and go home exclaiming “OMG! I just read today that 85% of kids take part in binge drinking contests!” or whatever deformation they can come up with. But that’s really not what the statistic says.

“Drinking alcohol” doesn’t mean that they went to a rave to spend 4 days drunk and high on speeds. Before the age of 15, I had drunken alcohol. Like a good amount of people of that age, my parents had let me take a bit of wine at family dinners, like during the holidays.

So, when you want to give a statistic, don’t give it the title that is most likely to be remembered by people. Give it a title that makes sense.

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2 Comments »

  1. Kaylee Said:

    I think those magazines do that as part of their business strategy. They have to attract anyone who passes by to their magazine, no matter how misleading it may be 😦

  2. Jem Said:

    We had alcohol when we were kids – a sip of mum’s “special drink” on a special occasion or whatever – that doesn’t equate to binge drinking though, heh.

    Kaylee’s right though, it’s marketing basically.


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