Cecil and Cecile

August 13, 2015

You probably know who Cecil is, but have you any idea who Cecile is?  At this time of year, when Parliament is in the long summer recess and news is scarce the print-press struggle to publish real current affairs; resulting in the perennial silly season.  This year is no different.  Stories that would normally be buried on an inside page appear on the front page.  Many of these are of the could or may variety. The research department of a university publishes the findings of its latest study saying that something might happen if we continue to behave in a particular way, and the press seize upon it.  It is reported as fact when in truth it is only a theory.  A think-tank releases the results of a piece of social research based on statistical analysis, that could have dire consequences, resulting in a misleading headline.  On further reading it appears that the statistics are dubious and it contradicts a similar report from a similar think-tank they printed a short time earlier.  Then there are the opinion polls telling us that a majority of people support or oppose this or that.  Further scrutiny reveals it was based on a small number of interviewees and is worthless.  Or, the poll was commissioned to bolster a campaign, with the questions being loaded to achieve the desired result.  And, we see the shocking behaviour of a celebrity or public figure (usually deceased so they cannot dispute it) uncovered, only to find it is taken from a book that the author is promoting. Read the rest of this entry »


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