Radio 1's Big Fact Hunt

This afternoon on Radio 1, DJ Scott Mills introduced today's Big Fact Hunt' competition. The idea for the competition is very simple, 'Chappers' (a newsreader) gives a fact which listeners must search for, with the quickest answer winning a radio 1 mousemat. My dad, who works as an ICT co-ordinator in a primary school, has been doing something similar for a while by setting a 'Google quiz' to get the kids used to using search engines. The Radio 1 competition doesn't use Google though but a specially skinned version of their own search service.

The competition task today was to find the percentage of the Russian Government's income that comes from the tax on vodka. I found the answer easy enough, just type in a few of those words and you'll get the answer of ten percent. However, I was a bit suspiscious as the answer I found came from a page of 'intereresting facts'. So I did a bit of searching and found that this 'fact' is quoted all over the internet, with 270 results for the phrase 'ten percent of the Russian government's income comes from the sale of vodka'! Almost all of these are just a single line on a list of 'useless' or 'interesting' facts, which also include such dubious items such as:

In short, dear old Chappers must have searched for 'facts' and gone from there rather than thinking up a fact and then checking to see if it could be found.

Back to our original question, does the Russian government really earn 10 percent of its income from the tax in vodka? Well, I couldn't prove the answer either way, with not being able to read Russian not helping. However, it would seem quite unlikely, even with an 80% tax on vodka (which there has been in the past) and an obvious popularity of the drink. If anyone can prove it wrong though, please leave a comment below.

I think a lesson in the use of the internet to verify information is in order for Chappers...