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Impressed by those survey findings? Consider the source

December 16, 2009 |  2:38 pm

GardenerFor a nation of individuals, Americans can seem to march in lockstep with surprising frequency. Consider these new findings:

- 95% of survey respondents say that a vegetable garden makes it easier for them to make healthful food choices. And 89% say that gardening is a good way to stay fit.

Oh, wait ... The survey, whose findings are described as "startling," is by W. Atlee Burpee & Co.

Perhaps you're familiar with the company's seed catalog. More startling of course would be Burpee telling us that respondents said, "Fighting drought and weeds and pests is keeping me from my jog and, quite frankly, is stressing me out."

- 98% of women surveyed consider bone strength to be an important health concern.

So says the North American Menopause Society, offering up data from a survey sponsored by the Alliance for Better Bone Health, a partnership between Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals and sanofi-aventis U.S.

- And a majority of Americans oppose a 5% tax on cosmetic medical procedures.

So says the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, which, to its credit, does acknowledge that the "majority" amounts to 52%.

Here's a primer on how, and why not, to trust individual surveys, courtesy of the National Science Foundation. It notes: "Unless you know that a survey is done scientifically, there is cause to doubt the results. Sample selection and type of questions are two cues."

And here's a smart, and skeptical, look at what stats in the news actually mean, from stats.org at George Mason University.

- 100% of editors surveyed recommend these sites.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: To die-hard gardeners, such activity likely seems healthful. To others, it looks like way more trouble than it's worth.

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times

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