Questionable statistics from Yahoo study

Yahoo's statistics tell strange stories about human behavior and Internet search
Stephen Baker

Yahoo is right that Internet search is a highly valuable service. But a new study the company just released contains what I consider questionable statistics that exaggerate the importance of search.

the stats:

-86% of new parents-to-be said they use the Internet to search about information on pregnancy, as compared to books (68%), friends/family (53%), and magazines (37%);
-54% of new parents said search simplified their lives more so than magazines (17%) or TV (10%);
-81% of college students rate search as their best source of information, followed by friends and family (64%), newspaper (36%) and TV (24%).

No doubt lots of women look to the Internet for information on pregnancy. That's one kind of data. But is it worth more than what they learn from their sisters, mothers, and best friends, as these numbers would indicate? I would guess not. A generation ago, this type of analysis would have concluded that Yellow Pages, as a source of information, trumped friends and family.

UPDATE: While responding to a comment, it occurred to me that Yahoo itself understands that personal relationships are a source of highly valuable information. That's why they're linking relationships to search in the My Web project.

SECOND UPDATE: Commenters point out that I morphed the survey's "parents" into "mothers." Guilty as charged. But that raises the question of whether there's a difference between how the genders get their news. I would maintain that both men and women get lots of data from search engines, but give far more value to what they learn from friends and family.

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