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  • Lawrence Bailey

Why surveys can be a pain

I think I’ve mentioned before that most surveys should come with a health warning.

There’s always a motive of some sort and the answers you get are only ever as insightful as the questions asked.

The great thing about surveys of course is that you can portray whatever mood message you desire. Based on the latest batch, and despite the trauma associated with Brexit, Trump and a Bananarama reunion tour, we remain chilled as a nation, or so it seems.

For example, according to pollsters Ipsos Mori, most of us are fine with the advent of ‘machine learning’ – which (apparently) is the terms used for the technology that underpins internet searches, shopping online recommendations and smartphone voice recognition.

A third of us think the risks of artificial intelligence resulting in mass unemployment or economic inequality are overstated, although we’re reportedly a lot less cool about driverless cars.

The same outfit helpfully found that a third of us would happily go without cash and rely on electronic forms of payment if they could. The survey was conducted for ING banking group who recently got electronically scammed for over a million euros.

My current technological dilemma – according to other studies – is that my mobile network is the best in Britain (except apparently in my street) whilst our broadband provider is the worst.

No such worries for the people of Orkney though who enjoy the best quality of life of any rural area in the UK, according to a Bank of Scotland survey.

As well as stunning scenery, the islanders benefit from low crime rates, quiet roads and a good choice of pubs.

Which brings me nicely to my favourite survey of the week conducted by researchers from the University of Greenwich who reckon consuming two pints of beer can cut pain discomfort just as much as taking paracetamol.

It’s not clear, whether the alcohol reduces feelings of pain because it affects brain receptors or if it lowers anxiety. Personally, I think that you just reach the point where you don’t care.

Anyway, I’m off to do some research – I feel a headache coming on.

Questioning the other big bang theory

One of the remarkable things about the British psyche is that so few of us even think about the nation’s nuclear ‘deterrent’ except at election time.

It’s at that point that all kind of accusatory hell breaks loose.

I came to the conclusion many years ago that its all a very expensive and entirely redundant security blanket.

There are currently enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world 18 times over. More than 90% are held by the United States and Russia.

As much as successive UK governments love to portray themselves as global geo-political players, the reality is that should the button ever get pressed then it will happen without Downing Street even being consulted.

I’m not a pacifist. I simply I recognise that the nature of threat has changed.

The fanatic prepared to blow themselves up in the middle of city of fly a plane into a building is not deterred by the thought of nuke-laden submarines.

Do we really need a bigger stick?

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