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A survey of surveys in Mississippi

Mississippians love candy corn, they want to buy Nintendo Switch consoles, they don’t get enough sleep, they’re unlikely to work remotely or try to quit smoking and they have the country’s eighth-most beautiful aquarium.

This is the age of the survey, and any reporter’s inbox especially around the holidays is likely overflowing with them.

Surveys and polls were once the domain of large companies that specialized in gathering such data from respondents. And the cost and effort involved — thousands of dollars and hours and hours of calling and collecting responses — limited the subject matter and made it easier to reduce inaccuracy or fraud.

But online platforms now allow most anyone to quickly and cheaply conduct an online survey, aggregate data — or fabricate it — and distribute it. These reports often include scant information on how data was collected, margins of error, or about the company or group conducting it.

Many surveys pushed out by marketing or public relations firms are repackaged data collected from the U.S. Census, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or various government agencies or bureaus.


October, according to National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data, is the most dangerous time to drive in Mississippi. The most dangerous hours to drive are 8 p.m. to 9 p.m., with the safest between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. Mississippi saw the eighth-highest increase in car crash fatalities from 2012-2021 — a 27.7% increase.

More than 1 in 10 Mississippians avoid visiting a doctor due to health care costs — we’re the fourth-worst state, according to CDC data gathered by Wealth of Geeks.

Mississippi has the seventh-shortest wait time in emergency rooms, an average of two hours and nine minutes — 28 minutes less than the national average.

Many surveys are simply rankings of online searches for a particular topic. For instance, a recent “survey” report said Mississippians are among the least likely to quit smoking, based on the number of online searches here on how to quit. Never mind we’re one of the least online connected states, according to another survey.

Another surmised that Mississippi has “the lowest interest in learning a new sport,” based on searches. It also reported the most popular new sport in the Magnolia State is pickleball.

Another said the states to which Mississippians most want to move are Texas, Florida and Tennessee, based on Google search data.

Some surveys sound highly questionable if not outright absurd on their face.

Mississippi, according to the Nature and Bloom online CBD store, is the second-most “CBD obsessed” state, behind Alabama.

Mississippi is the state suffering the least from pain, according to a survey from online kratom retailer Happy Go Leafly.

It’s the state getting the third-least amount of sleep, based on the number of online searches about melatonin.

Gulfport’s Mississippi Aquarium is the eighth-most beautiful in America, based on reviews from visitors that mention beauty. An aquarium in picturesque Detroit was crowned most beautiful.

Mississippians most wanted to buy a Nintendo Switch console for Black Friday and candy corn is their favorite Halloween candy, which is just wrong and gross.

Mississippi has long suffered slings and arrows from surveys and rankings on poverty, obesity, mortality, education — you name it. But in the survey age, there has been better news, whether accurate or dubious.

Mississippi is the best state in which to retire, followed by Alabama and Ohio, one survey reported. It has the lowest number of drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes, according to one survey, and it’s the “fifth best state for gamers.”

But one should take note: A Pew Research study suggests opt-in online surveys have 4% to 7% “bogus respondents.” A recent survey of surveys, using a statistical testing method, found that 1 in 5 surveys tested showed a high likelihood of fabricated data.


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This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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