Friday, July 18, 2008

Dale's Academy of Anecdotal Evidence: Ban Statistics!


Yesterday Professor Dale, the Pope of Political Correctness and called for the derogatory word "Toff" to be banned. Later that same evening Professor Dale, now it seems the Pope of Criminal Analysis, switched specialisms across the Art-Science divide and upped the ante calling for Statistics to be banned or at any rate ignored.

What a load of old rot. So weak! How does Professor Dale suggest measuring crime then? To be replaced presumably by blogger, pundit and gutter press anecdote and prejudice? Can Iain point to something in his education and training that qualifies him to pontificate ex cathedra about the validity or otherwise of such statistics?

Contrary to the bleating the British Crime Survey (BCS) DOES of course include much criminal activity by under 16s. Though in the 50,000 respondents there are no interviews with under 16s. Something which this survey has in common with the vast majority of market and social research in this country.

Iain features the testimony of someone responding to his airing of similar tosh on SKY last evening. As that correspondent reports security of all sorts is being hardened. With practical measures to design out crime gathering speed over the last two and a half government terms and e.g. police advisory on planning apps in many areas.

But government and local government and police initiatives are responsible for hardening domestic and industrial premises against crime. There are security grants for business. For example 50% of cost up to a grant of £5,000 in parts of Salford, at least until recently, and a ceiling of £20,000 on all grants, and subsidised patrols by "Quay Watch" in the same areas.

All the improvements around road safety this man cites are funded by levels and agents of government. And besides for the most part motoring and parking offences are not reported as crime anyway.

Give this Labour government some credit Iain. We have more police and we have PCSOs too. We have nationwide investment in better police stations, better CCTV, better vehicles, better technology, more civilian surrogates e.g. in motorway safety. We have crime reduction measures from many local partnerships.

But most of all we have reduced poverty, more employment and better employability, better health, better roads and better design of the built environment. All at least in part through sensible interventions from government. Though that government is still smaller and still borrowing less than latter day Tories.

I know bad statistics when I see them. And I know bad analysis of the same. And BCS and reported crime figures are NOT bad statistics.

But "anecdotal evidence" is NOT repeat NOT evidence. Sentiment is however extraordinarily important and whether it is knife crime or shoplifting or bank robberies ... if the popular media continue to be as soft on anecdote and the cause of anecdote and if people in general believe this stream of nonsense rather than hard figures then disproportionate fear and misery lie ahead.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Talking of "statistics to be ignored", I notice a complete lack of comment from you about Alistair Darling's 'completely independent' decision to kick Labour's own borrowing requirement rule into touch.

I know you are partial to a proverb from the old Soviet bloc, so here's a Czech one. "When the people don't agree with the party it's time to change the people."

"When the rules are jusr about to be broken by your own mismanagement it's time to change the rules."

After all, one of the other options would be to raise interest rates. When the Labour Party is nearly £20 million in debt you certainly wouldn't want that.

Your own party's disastrous finances dictating governemnt policy! How corrupt is that?

Dirty Euro: said...

Rubbish it is because we cannot allow inflation to run away. That would be the real issue to face. The government has to go for a solution all you tories do is goad like lord haw haw at every economic problem so what is your solution. Starve the poor to death. freeze pensioners, or sack all the doctors and nurses.

Chris Paul said...

Leave them Dirty Euro, they're not worth it! That swivel eyed ex-Tory MP Michael Brown was on the Beeb earlier with eyes whirling merrily. He forgot of course that Tories borrow more in such times too.

Iain Dale is anumerate, innumerate and illogical. He should not venture an opinion on statistics until he understands them ... a bit, a little, or just a shade (anumerate expression for the numerophobic).

Anonymous said...

"No return to Tory boom and bust, eh?"

And, dirty euro, inflation IS running away, if you hadn't noticed. Particularly on the sort of items that the lower paid buy. Apparently, photographic equiopment is down 22%, so at least Middle England won't be too upset and New Labour can sleep easily.

I have no probel with the government borrowing more in times of need, by the way. I just find it remarkable that the rules get changed to make sure that they're not broken. And changed by the very people that are breaking them. Just be a bit more honest and say that there are no rules.

And I find the Lord Haw Haw dig totally offensive, especially if it comes from a socialist.