The most recent example of that comes from the BBC website where a story about an Internet survey has the title “Mothers ‘Harder on Daughters Than Sons’, Poll Suggests.”
The survey, carried out by a U.K. website called Netmums, is based on self-selection, not a random sample. This means that the results cannot be generalized beyond the respondents of the survey, but that is exactly what seems to be happening, from the BBC to Fox News!
But that’s not all that is wrong with the popularizations of this survey or the survey itself. The most glaring error:
More than half of the 2,672 mothers questioned (55%) said they had formed a stronger bond with their boys
Let’s have a look at the actual study results:
2. What gender are your children?
* All girls - 23.2%
* All boys - 30.8%
* Both girls and boys - 46%
9. If you have children of both genders, did you find it easier to bond with one of your children than the other(s)?
* Yes - 27.8%
* No - 72.2%
10. If yes, please specify whether you found it easiest to bond with your:
* Son - 54.9%
* Daughter - 45.1%