Without wanting to engage in BBC bashing it must be said that this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today programme had too many examples of sloppy use of data. There were school boy errors: focusing on the latest figure not the trend, comparing annual data to quarterly data, getting the number wrong, ignoring the impact of inflation when comparing figures over time, choosing the wrong denominator and flooding the debate with large but ultimately meaningless numbers. I am not a regular listener to the BBC’s flagship news programs but I hope they are generally better than this! Continue reading BBC and sloppy numbers
The recent political coming and goings (the EU referendum, the arrival of a new Prime Minster and Labour’s travails) has seen a period of unusual attitudes to facts. More people seemingly want information and yet the (accurate) use of facts by politicians, some elements of the media and quite a few people has fallen to new lows. Experts are being rubbished, institutions’ reputations are being damaged, and the media is accused of being biased, prompting discussion of a post-truth society. There is much talk of a fractured Britain as technology and globalisation have hastened economic disruption affecting many livelihoods.
This note sets out a few steps – go local, kill the average, be open, do good research, un-spin and tell good stories – that the statistics world might take to help people reconnect with reality and help policy makers understand what might be needed if we are to establish a more sensible approach to debate and policy. It has much in common with the Data Manifesto published by the Royal Statistical Society two years ago. Continue reading Post-truth, post-Brexit statistics
Gordon Brown and Ed Balls, architects of the pre-2007 mantra of “no return to boom and bust“, have left Parliament, and the contenders for the Labour leadership are busily reinventing their economic policy, so it’s only appropriate that the latest statistics reinvent the economic history! The figures show that the boom and bust were both greater than previously thought. And not for the first time! Continue reading Even bigger boom and bust!
According to the Evening Standard today, the Bank of England’s growth forecast has been slashed and the inflation forecast is little changed. The former has been cut by 0.3 percentage points in 2016 and the latter by 0.4 points. Umm. Surely if 0.3 is slashed, 0.4 can’t be little changed. Continue reading “slashed” = “little changed”