People who answer “don’t know” to obvious questions

In survey data, there is usually an open-ended category for “not applicable” or “don’t know”. For Wired, Amit Katwala noticed an interesting subset of YouGov respondents who “didn’t know” things they should probably know:

But the thing that caught my eye when I came across the results on Twitter, and which quickly became an obsession, was the fourth option. Three per cent of Brits ‘don’t know’ whether they’ve tried surfing before. I was simultaneously baffled and enthralled.

Scrolling through the results of similar polls over subsequent days, weeks and months, I found a country that is deeply confused on a lot of seemingly straightforward issues. Two per cent of Brits don’t know whether they’ve lived in London before. Five per cent don’t know whether they’ve been attacked by a seagull or not. A staggering one in 20 residents of this fine isle don’t know whether or not they pick their nose.