Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Statistics? We got 'em!


A comprehensive statistical study earlier today


I was watching the Bullshit Broadcasting Corporation teatime bulletin tonight, and something struck me quite forcibly. If you follow the link, and read the article, according to BBC/ICM we all simply love the nanny state.

Do you? Do you know anyone who does? Have you actually heard anyone saying "How I wish the government would help me to cut down my drinking/eating/breathing"? I know I haven't.

Nevertheless, these reams of figures keep pouring out telling us how we all feel on everything from same sex marriage to competitive iguana fondling. The fun continued with the ramp-up to today's inevitable suck-fest on the topic of the pub-wrecking smoker ban. CRUK the well-known online poll fixers and general lie vomitorium were first up, claiming that the ban had caused 400,000 people to quit in the last year, and how up to* 14,000 lives would be saved.

How the fuck can they possibly claim that either figure has any scientific validity at all? How in the hell can they possibly know how many people have quit smoking, especially given that the constant vilification and persecution has led people to begin lying about their smoking habits, and why if that's true are tobacco companies reporting increases in sales? It's not all from from foreign expansion people.

The constant in all things today is statistics. Rarely are they challenged, sometimes not even sourced, but there they are. By the ream, by the boatload, raining down on us; purporting to demonstrate anything from the heat death of the universe to the incidence of trenchfoot among basejumping nuns. We are being sold a bill of goods here, and not just us. Our brain dead europoodle masters likewise, and frankly I don't trust most of them to tie their own shoelaces, let alone make complex objective judgements based on diligent research.

On the back of duff statistics we've been peddled global warming, passive smoke and security theatre (after all, that's what we want isn't it?). Why the hell should we allow this state of affairs to continue? I'm not saying gag the liars, merely disarm them. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I give you:

The Presentation of Statistical Data (Prevention of Misuse) Bill 2011.

My suggestion for one of the first Libertarian White Papers. Wherein, after we've consulted the best statisticians we can find, we tighten up on the use of statistics in public policy formulation. At the very least, whenever statistics are used they should quote how the sample was taken, from where, what size sample etc. etc. If they derive from opinion polling, the questions and range of answers should be clearly stated. In short, it should be instantly, abundantly clear even to non-scientists/mathematicians if a statistical claim is valid or pure bullshit, and if it's the latter, then visit severe vengeance on the perpetrators.

I commend this bill to The House, just say no to bullshit.

*I love 'up to', as it clearly includes the figure zero.

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