Does Cosmo lie to us?

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Yes, it is the beloved magazine many young women can't wait to read once a month for stories and advice on life, love, health, and beauty. Each edition of the magazine is filled with surveys and polls that often yield interesting and shocking answers that often give its readers insight into their own lives. But can we truly believe in this data? And does it hold up to real life scenarios?
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Chapter 2 warns us of false scientific studies and encourages us to stay skeptical of perhaps untrue results. Valid scientific research methods must have random selection, where the population tested is equally representative of the population as a whole. It was at this point that I questioned Cosmo's conclusions.
The magazine tells us up front that many of the survey results were simply from Cosmo readers who answered them in an online questionnaire, but of course that doesn't let them off the hook. Cosmo readers are clearly not an accurate representation of the general population nor are the participants who go online to answer their polls. The number of respondents are often unknown to the readers as well. All of these points against them suggests that we cannot blindly believe in their claims that "Men are 3 times more likely to say 'I love you' first." Or that the fact that "40% of women surveyed have wardrobes full of brand-new, unworn clothes" is an accurate representation of all women. However, just because these polls lack random selection does not mean there isn't at least some truth to them, a larger set of representational participants will tell.

Kathleen Dennis

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You got the ideas behind survey sampling and representativeness correct. You show good skepticism in this post!

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This page contains a single entry by Kathleen Dennis published on January 22, 2012 6:42 PM.

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