what statistical things do people perpetually lie about?

Any time we have a sex-related frequency thread on here, such as “how often do you and your partner have a sex?” or “how many orgasms do you have in a typical session?”, it becomes immediately clear that most people are fudging their numbers to feel better about themselves. I also see this whenever money is mentioned online, especially on review or consumer reports sites - people routinely claim to have paid hundreds of dollars less for an item than we can reasonably believe they paid, even with a killer bargain. Thousands in the case of big-ticket items like cars.

What do you think people tend to fudge their numbers on the most, either in real life or online?

Total number of sex partners in their lifetime, lower if they don’t want to look like a slut and higher if they don’t want to feel like a loser.

IQ. It strikes me as odd that everyone I know someone has an IQ of at least 125…or maybe I just attract smart people. :slight_smile:

How much alcohol they drink? How much television they watch? I suspect people may have a tendency to underestimate both of these.

How is this immediately clear?

How many times they’ve been pregnant—I always ask in private.
If they’ve ever been physically abused—it takes many repetitions to get to the truth. My domestic violence seminars says it takes 10 queries before a woman will admit to domestic violence, so we ask everyone, even if they seems to be no risk.
I don’t even ask if the women I admit to postpartum have ever used illegal drugs. I ask when was the last time they used.
I get lied to a LOT. I’m holding positive tox results from the lab and she tells me she hasn’t used since she’s been pregnant. That’s some good drugs!

The great job offers they’ve gotten and the salaries that would have come with those jobs.

I don’t know that they’re necessarily lying, but nobody can mention that they took the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) without adding that they maxed it, or that, “My recruiter said that was the highest score he’d ever seen and I could have had any job I wanted.”

If you want to see mendacity about statistics on an absolutely galactic scale, just start a thread called “Hey, what’s your IQ?” The ridiculously inflated numbers will defy any sort of reason, probability, or belief.

We had one a few years back - I searched for it but couldn’t find it - that got to a level of dishonest one-upmanship that would have been funny if it weren’t so sad. 140, 150, 160, 170, 180… if the claims were true then essentially all the smartest people in the world with Internet connections were in that thread.

I don’t think people actually realize how rare IQs of 160 and 170 are.

I lie all the time so if I’m lying, other people are lying. Here are some of my personal examples:

-how many people I’ve had sex with
-how much I weigh
-how much I drink to my doctor
-how many drugs i’ve done and how much to my doctor and everyone
-how much i smoke to my doctor

I’m a huge fan of reading casual encounters on craigslist. Its amazingly addictive. However, its amazing how many, in fact, all, of the people trolling for sex have 8-10 inch penises.
Also IQs seem to be questionably reported. Seems that everyone has really IQs in my experience as well. Isn’t is pretty accepted at this point that IQ exams are pretty much hogwash? Thats my feeling. I’ve never been tested though. Seems pretty goofy

I think that most psychiatrists and psychologists (and I can never remember the difference) agree that your IQ is a measure of how well you do on IQ tests.

There was the IQ thread RickJay mentioned, and there was once a thread on penis size.

Not that my fellow male dopers would lie, mind you, but I’ve been on a lot of sports teams, showered in a bunch of locker rooms with lots of guys, and never before have I encountered a group that’s average penis size was 8+ inches! :dubious:

A friend of mine has a job that requires her to supervise a bunch of people from the state health dept. who spend their entire worklives calling people up and asking them health questions.

People are very, very prone to lie about anything related to their health.

I know I have lied on the phone about how many televisions I have, what political party I’m in, or whether I work in advertising or marketing. (In case you didn’t know, if the answer is “yes” then a lot of times the interview ends right then.)

During the course of an actual marketing job I actually had (when I learned the nugget above) we got a statistic that black people are statistically more likely to lie about whether or not they voted in the most recent election. More likely than other racial groups, that is. I frankly cannot fathom the purpose of the question, nevermind how anybody arrived at the fact that they lied in response to the question. Oh–Hi, Big Brother, didn’t see ya there!

People lie all the fucking time. Pretty much anything that will make them look good, or make them look bad, they’ll lie about it.

Sex and money are the two big ones. But there’s nothing we won’t lie about.

Hell, I once told a local tv camera crew I’d voted, when I hadn’t. I don’t even know why.

It must be something passed down by our ape ancestors, because it seems to be ingrained in us.

Is it this thread: What’s your IQ?

oh my god that thread is silliest shit I have ever read. I have an IQ of 200, can bench press a volkwagan, control the weather, rule the night, have two pulitzers, have lunch every month with the British royal family, have three phds, have been called the sexiest woman on earth by maxim magazine, can run a mile in under 3 minutes, and can kill a man just by focusing on him really hard.

but mostly I just sit around and post on SDMB.

Isn’t the real statistic that something like 60% of women rarely have orgasms, and yet the last time a number-of-orgasms thread was started we learned that the average Doper female has about 20 orgasms per sexual encounter.

Truly we here at The Straight Dope are the exception to the rule. Every rule. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t lie, except for comic effect.

I am Fakey McFakerton of Fake Mountain. I mean I enjoy sex. A lot. Its just not always about the orgasm. Unless I’m alone…with a certain friend…that I’ve named Rojo…

I mean I can have an orgasm from a sexual encounter its just not from traditional sex. I’m sort of high maintenance like that.

Maybe they were all growers, and not show-ers.

I don’t have to lie about anything since I can be silently secure in the knowledge that my 12" dick, independent wealth and model-quality looks will get me by.


So, how many people lie about how often they lie?

I wouldn’t believe them, anyway.

One place where I consistently fudge, waffle and dissemble is surveys. I have a real thing about surveys. I *have * to know what the survey’s *really * about, what the ultimate goal is, who’s really behind the survey, and what they’re trying to accomplish. Once I’ve figured that out, if I decide I don’t like what they’re up to, I’ll cunningly shade my answers to hopefully send them in the wrong direction. For example, when the guy on the phone says, it’s a survey about shopping habits, I know they’re really trying to manufacture support to build a new mall close to my house. So I tell 'em I usually buy stuff in the next town. Never buy anything close to home. Who wants that? Build your mall elsewhere, my man.

Yes, I’m a jerk. I have a friend who did an MBA, and spent a fair amount of time studying surveys, market research, what-have-you. He’s aghast at my attitude.