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BMJ 1997; 315 doi: (Published 18 October 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;315:1025
  1. Trisha Greenhalgh, general practitioner
  1. London

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    He stood over me with a clipboard. “Name?”

    ”You already know my name,” I protested.

    “Oh, yes.” He wrote ‘Mummy’ in the first box on the form. “Right. Age?”

    “Wait a minute. Why do you need to know that?”

    “Look, I've been told to just collect the data. Another group decided on the questions. It's very important that the interviewees cooperate with us.”

    “Thirty five,” I lied.

    “Favourite thing on TV?” he continued dispassionately.

    “The off switch.”

    And so it went on. Ten minutes later the phone rang.

    “Hello, my name's Jackie and I work for a market research company. …

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