Thursday, 30 June 2011

Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics

This much quoted phrase, with an inherent progression starting at a low point, developing to an even lower point and then ending with statistics, is (according to wikipedia) potentially un-attributed – or at the very least – avoided attribution.
On the today programme on radio 4 this morning, Francis Maude the Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, was mauled by Evan Davis.  The opponent in the debate was Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, who was on the show defending the apparently indefensible strike – he sat back and let Evan do his work.   The weapon of choice for Evan you ask? Statistics.  Or more correctly reported facts.  Maude was quoting the Hutton Report, saying that pensions have been shown to eventually become unaffordable and that if we don’t act now with public sector pensions, future generations will have an unmanageable tax burden.  Evan, having asked him if he had read the report, asked a direct question about an apparent misquote, saying he had used <Ctrl>+F to search for the word!  He then went on to quote the actual numbers from the report that seemed to contradict the attributed “direct” quote.  A bloodbath of squirming and smirking followed, where I was left feeling let down by the government minister but thoroughly impressed with the quality of journalism on Radio 4 – top job guys.


  1. Tom Kolesnikowicz30 June 2011 at 16:56

    Couldn't agree with you any more Jim heard the story myself and was so wound up by that idiot I wanted to punch the radio in the car dashboard.

  2. After having sounded so sure of himself, it was an unedifying decline of his credibility. I sat in a car park voicing my dissatisfaction. :-o