Like many people, when the headlines started flying around this morning saying that six million American adults listened to podcasts, it seemed like a questionable number. The folks at the Pew Internet and American Life Project tend to come out with pretty interesting studies that don't often seem overhyped -- but this appears to be an exception that really calls into question what the Pew people were thinking. It didn't take long for many to question the findings, noting that it's quite an extrapolation to go from 60 people answering yes to six million in the US. Amazingly, even the folks at Pew admit they don't believe the 6 million number. They only put out the press release about it -- why should they have to believe it, or even support it with the facts in their survey? In fact, the research director behind the study clarifies (after the fact, of course) that the study actually asked people: "if they had ever downloaded a podcast or radio Internet program." So, out of 200 people, they got 60 to admit that they had maybe at some point downloaded an internet radio program (which is not necessarily the same thing as podcasting) -- and from that they put out a report with the headline that "6 million American adults have listened to podcasts." Why bother doing actual research any more when all the attention is in made up numbers?
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