Are you sitting comfortably?

Then I’ll begin.

I often complain about how banal BBC news is. Sometimes they carry front page headlines which are more suited to the British tabloid press or gossip columns, and quite often science reporting is dumb and ill-thought out. This is a pity because they’re a frontline news source and carry a huge responsibility, particularly as they are publicly funded.

Tonight I noticed this article about back pain. Delightfully, it carries the sentence

Two thirds of people also sit down at home when they get home from work.



Then I noticed that statistic is from the British Chiropractic Association (who recently failed to sue Simon Singh, you may recall), and all was clear. Well, not all. I still don’t know why BBC News is publishing this drivel, but it’s nothing a snarky email won’t fix. If only I could type standing up.

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  1. If anyone wants to help me figure out what this stat means, do leave a comment. So far I have:

    1) One third of people do not sit down when they get home from work

    2) One third of people don’t sit down AT HOME when they get home from work. They get home from work and sit down somewhere else.

    3) Two thirds of people were sitting down before they got home from work.

    Any others?

  2. One third of houses does not have anywhere to sit down.
    One third of people are vampires and hang by their feet.
    One third of people are unable to sit.

  3. One third of people don’t know how to sit down?
    One third of people sit up?
    One third of people stand down?

    I wonder if the percentages have changed in the last 3 1/2 years? Maybe someone should ask the BCA if they’ve done any recent research on this?

  4. If it does mean this, it could have been worded much better, but I took it to mean “two thirds of people spend most of their (waking) time at home sitting down”. *Edit:* The sentence before the quoted one is about people spending their workday sitting down.

  5. 1/3 of people fall down immediately upon coming home, having drunk their lunch & dinner.

    1/3 Spent the rest of the evening chasing neighborhood children with power tools.

    1/3 Have detachable legs and so turn into human weebles

    1/3 Pose on the hood of their car when they get home.

    1/3 Prostrate themselves before their god until bedtime.

    1/3 Sit down *on* their home, rather than *at* it.

    1/3 Sit down on the sidewalk in front of their home, which might be full of pesky chiropractors.

  6. Too often their online reporting of physics and planetary science is also notably crap. But, I feel that it’s balanced out by the usually very good on-air reporting done by my lover Pallab Ghosh, of whom I will tolerate no criticism whatsoever. He’s so dreamy!

  7. I do remember well the moment when I realised, “Heyyy wait, this is the BBC goddammit! Surely it’s not meant to be THIS lame.”

  8. 1/3 of people have completely given up and just go right for the fetal position upon coming home from work

    1/3 are eating their dinner standing up, over the sink

    1/3 have atrocious hemorrhoids

    1/3 are squatting to avoid the filth

    1/3 get home and jump on the treadmill so they can be all fit and superior and make me feel like a lazy shit and whenever we’re out and the conversation turns to a TV show they are all “What’s Lost? Oh, is it a TV show? I haven’t heard of it. See, because I don’t even own a TV – I really don’t have the time. I’ll never understand how anyone chooses to sit on the couch like a zombie after eight hours of sitting at a desk. I mean, how can they justify wasting time like that? I can’t sit still for more than five minutes myself. I think all this energy comes from running before work. Oh, and have I mentioned what a douche I am? Do you like how I just crapped all over your fun conversation? Yeah, I’m pretty much better than you.”

    1/3 are actually shark people who will die if they stop moving

  9. It could just be really badly worded, and meant to indicate that 2/3 of the 32% who spend more than 10 hours a day on their rears also sit down when they get home (though I’d like to know how the other third gets into bed). Then again, it could mean that 1/3 of the population doesn’t sit at work, and that nobody cares what they do when they get home except for the creepy semi-stalker guy who comes in every day at the same time for french fries and complimentary ice water.

  10. Well certainly that was a strange sentence but I found the featured quote more annoying: “Our bodies are not designed to be so sedentary .” What a highlight. How can one sentence be both completely wrong and completely obvious at the same time?

  11. Maybe they mean that they know that 2/3 sit down when they come home but they can’t account for the remaining 1/3 many of whom may also sit down.
    Or maybe they mean that 1/3 of Britain’s population are unemployed and thus don’t go to work in the first place.
    Or maybe they mean that 2/3 sit down
    immediately when they get home from work. (I usually do – it’s easier to take my shoes off when I’m sitting down)

  12. “Two thirds of people also sit down at home when they get home from work.”

    Maybe they left off the “margin of error; +/- 50%.”


    One third of people are *already sitting* when they get home. Maybe driving one of those free power chairs that are advertised constantly at 3 in the morning.

  13. 135 degrees??? My Mom used to call that slouching… Now I can tell her she was full of crap!! I’m also the only one in the family who doesn’t have back trouble.. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    and one third of people drink too much when they get home from work and forget where their legs are.

  14. Their science reporting is unusually poor, and their tech-team are utterly laughable, which is a *real* shame since the BBC’s so damn good in so many other areas. Natural history for ordinary spods like me (no BBC, no Attenborough, can you even imagine?) politics (upon which they’ve had more practice in reporting than any other organisation on Earth, and are still kings); it defeats me that they get health and non-Attenborough related “proper” sciencey science stuff so completely back-assward.

    Well, no it doesn’t actually, they’re trying to be populist enough to keep our ever dimming public clicking instead of defaulting to The Daily Mail while trying to maintain a reputation that’s beyond the wildest dreams of any Fox or NBC. It’s painful to watch it slide like this but sliding it is, with more and more hocus pocus junk and more articles that look and spell like they were typed by interns after a liquid breakfast.

    At least a third of me has been very disappointed in them of late.

  15. @RthrTylr: No major media outlet does science reporting very well. In dumbing down the science, they usually lose things…. sometimes important things. I don’t think the BBC is any worse than the rest of the mainstream media. The BBC may be a bit more innocent in their corruption (ie they just get it wrong verses others deliberately ignoring the truth in favor of a good story) In any case, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt unless I know they are deliberately distorting the news (which they have on occasion, though not as much as the rest)

    But the shameful state of science reporting is mostly pervasive, as if reporters have a specific problem with it that they don’t with other types of reporting.

  16. *One third make their own drink when they get home necessitating a standing position.
    *One third are lucky enough to have someone make a drink for them and can sit.
    *And one third are sitting to gather up sufficient strength to make that drink they’ve been thinking about since 2:30 PM.

  17. I love how the anchor in the clip Magnus linked says the same thing that all anchors always say when summing up a science report… “This is so complicated I don’t know how anyone can possibly understand it.” Well, understanding it and explaining it are your job. Feynman said “If you can’t explain something to a first year student, you don’t really understand it.” A science reporter should have at least the background of a first year student and should be able to explain anything he understands to anybody. But as my 8-year-old niece complains about her classmates, “they don’t know anything about science, and what’s worse, they don’t care.”

  18. I assumed that it meant either

    1) 2/3 of people sit down immediately as soon as they walk through the door, while the other 1/3 do something else for an unspecified period of time before eventually sitting


    2) 2/3 of people spend “too much” time sitting during the evening, however that is defined.

    Not as interesting as the other suggestions, but probably more likely.

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