Lying through their teeth

Lies, damn lies and statistics.
We’ve just designed a survey in partnership with PR Academy to garner insights on IC practice in relation to employee engagement. Kevin Ruck, co-founder of PR Academy, is currently studying for a PhD specialising in employee research, and has become a bit of an anorak on regressions, correlations and confounding factors. So, we asked Kevin what kind of response we would need for the results to be statistically valid. Don’t expect a straight answer, but we reckon there are about 10,000 IC professionals in the UK, so we would be happy with a 1.5% (150) response rate. The good news is we are almost half way towards our target after only 3 days.
But tonight a Colgate TV advert caught my eye – 9 out of 10 dentists recommend Colgate!

Check the small print! N=77; that’s only 77 responses! Curiosity got the better of me – I found out that there are approx. 25,000 dentists in the UK, and 77 is only 0.3% of 25,000. So, if a sample of 0.3% of the Dentist profession is good enough for Colgate, we’ll settle for 5x that.
If you have 5 mins spare, and would like the chance to win a bottle of bubbly, please help and complete the survey here..


  1. Sean,

    I’ll have you know that it is multiple regression that I’m doing, not just any old regression.

    We’ve now gone past 150 responses on the survey with some really interesting trends emerging.

    BTW, you don’t need to know about regression to work out that Colgate should be worried that 8 dentists out of 77 didn’t recommend them.


  2. So, there are 2.5 x as many dentists than there are IC pros in the UK, yet we have had double the response to an industry survey. Maybe dentists dont like ‘filling’ them in. Any more responses from IC pros and the results will take some ‘drilling’ down, or are you ‘capping’ it?

  3. Ha ha, anyway I think we should open this survey up as wide as possible now.

  4. what? open-wide? say aaahh?

  5. We’ve just passed the 200 mark – should we put a plaque on the wall?

  6. Time to gargle? We’re drowning in responses. nearly 250 and lot’s of very interesting verbatim comments. 68 people keen to learn more annual summit on 6th October, flyers out today.

  7. Hi. I found this page through google after wondering what that n=77 meant. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *