Jan 26 2009

Unsucking London

Ok, there are a lot of bad things about living in London and I am still mighty pissed off that I have been forced to live here due to our over-centralised economy. BUT my curmudgeonality is being regularly undermined by all the great stuff here.

This includes Skeptics in a Pub (Scottish skeptics note, no groups north of the border) and brilliant stuff at the Women’s Library.

From the Skeptics website, I then stumbled upon the fabulastic Skepchick.org.


Jan 23 2009

Headlines and ‘dick fingers’

I’ve been ‘encouraged’ to post another blog by a blogger friend with too much time on his hands. But to be fair, he has alerted me to a very interesting link about ‘quotes’ in ‘newspapers’. That is, the quotation marks used in newspaper headlines which completely misrepresent the story and evidence in the piece. Typical headlines being ‘Finally, the scientific proof that ‘women lie about rape” etc.

What is important to understand is that most people only read the headline and first two paragraphs of each article in a newspaper. The facts involved which frequently contradict the headline, are therefore reserved for the final paragraphs.

This is used often about science stories, however, I just found a horrendous example in, guess where? The Daily Mail.

Here again is an issue of ‘facts’ and the Daily Mail’s inability to grasp them. According to an article on their website, a couple of paedophiles were able to abuse children ‘because of human rights legislation’.

This is in fact a story about two paedophiles being rightfully imprisoned for their awful crimes none of which had anything to do with human rights legislation. The prosecuting lawyer then said in passing that if they ever were released (and they had been jailed indefinitely) they should not be allowed to live together but this may be impossible as he believes “that may offend human rights legislation”.

There is then a string of comments to this article from, well, thick Daily Mail readers, talking about repealing the Human Rights Act.

Firstly, this pair has been imprisoned indefinitely. They will only be released when they are no longer a threat to society and if they have severe personality disorders that makes them abuse children, they may never get out.

Secondly, they may not both get out or get out at the same time.

Thirdly, the problem is that they are paedophiles not that they live together.

Fourthly, they are not a risk to each other so it is unclear under what law they could be separated.

Fifthly, the headline is based on the passing comment of one man and has no evidence to back it up.

Sixthly, they are not using the Human Rights Act to overturn a bail condition that they not live together, given that they are both in prison and not getting out.

Some comedian I saw recently called this kind of Daily Mail reaction the ‘What Next’ syndrome, i.e. “Speed cameras? What next, we’re all going to be micro-chipped and an electric current sent through our bodies whenever we near the speed limit?” Answer: No.

“What next, human rights legislation actually encourages paedophiles to abuse children?” Answer: No.

What next, the Daily Mail actually accurately reports a story on science, women, asylum seekers, gays, human rights, or Europe? Answer: No.

NB. Dick fingers: the gesture indicating quotation marks.