How an air-conditioning mechanic in Sydney Australia became an award winning broadcaster in Britain; Part 122.

23Oct14

Today is the day that the latest radio ratings are published. It’s a day when we see plenty of examples of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy is an informal fallacy which is committed when differences in data are ignored, but similarities are stressed. From this reasoning a false conclusion is inferred. It is related to the clustering illusion, which refers to the tendency in human cognition to identify patterns where none actually exist.

In radio ratings terms it works like this; Station owners find an obscure false positive buried in the numbers, spin it backwards and announce that this minute detail was their overall goal. Classic examples include announcing that although they lost audience, the people that do listen are listening longer and when a station loses audience on FM, announcing that more people are listening via their iPhone app.

My favourite at the moment is the full service, twenty-four hour, live AM, FM and DAB radio station with a celebrity presenter line-up that has spent thousands on marketing but now has an audience so small that one of its spin-off automated DAB stations has almost over-taken it. Their latest press release makes it look like that was their plan all along. Textbook Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.

The name comes from a joke about a Texan who fires some gunshots at the side of a barn, then paints a target centered on the biggest cluster of hits and claims to be a sharpshooter.

Craic on!

Listen to the latest Mack Nuggets at 

http://www.mackmedia.co.uk/8th-mack-nuggets-audio-video

If you enjoyed this Craic, please click “like” and tweet a link. If you’d like to talk to me about it, call me on +44 1438 422106 between 6 and 9 weekday mornings (UK time) on BOB fm.

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