Are you ready for the zombie apocalypse? A new survey for YouGov has shown that just 11 per cent of us are – and provided yet another example of one of my favourite figures in polling: that as far as men are concerned, the hardest words to use are “I don’t know”.
All British pollsters break down their polling by class, region, age and gender. There isn’t any class gap and there are precious few regional differences, with the noted exception of Wales. The Welsh are significantly less likely be prepared (at five per cent) than anyone else in the United Kingdom, perhaps because it’s the only place that still has a Labour government, so they assume the state will look after them, perhaps because Doctor Who is filmed there so they assume that the Doctor will be on hand to sort it out.
But striking gap is between men and women. Men are almost twice as likely than women to say they have a plan for the zombie apocalypse. Yet men and women are equally likely to say they are stockpiling fresh water. (If you are planning for an extinction level event, be it nuclear war, floods, zombie apocalypse or alien invasion, and you are not stockpiling clean water, you don’t really have a plan.)
This unwillingness to admit ignorance can be observed in both polls and focus groups. Men are twice as likely to express an opinion, usually a negative one, about a variety of fictional subjects: from Stewart Lewis, the longtime former IpsosMori fake minister, who that pollster included in their polls about Cabinet ministers, to the fictitious Agricultural Trade and Monetary Control Bills.
For men, it seems, it’s not “Sorry”, but “Don’t Know” that’s the hardest word.