Lies, damned lies and statistics

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Wendyf » 03 Feb 2015, 11:19

We can't get broadband at all... :sad: Good job we have generous neighbours who's phone line comes up from Earby.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 04 Feb 2015, 05:37

Doc had the same problem at Prospect.....
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 15 Feb 2015, 05:55

Heard this morning on World Service. "Human beings have, on average, less than two legs". Undoubtedly accurate but peculiarly useless!
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 16 Feb 2015, 11:28

A discussion of footballers' salaries this morning on the radio. The football man from a lesser team was saying that the players should be paid more sensible amounts such as £1500 to £2000 a week. The BBC sports commentator said that would put them on something similar to the national average wage. I think he's mixed up his weeks and months, or maybe he has an odd idea of how much real people get paid!

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Bruff » 16 Feb 2015, 15:22

Probably the latter. Most people do. Folk seem to think 35/40 grand a year is a typical wage when the reality is on that you’re knocking on the top 10% of earners. In a poll a year or so back, school kids were asked what they reckoned they’d be earning (among other things) in their early 30s. Most said 50-odd grand. I’m all for ambition, but seriously, you’re not likely to get even close to that. If you get half that, you’re doing better than 50% of your peers. Folk have no idea.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 16 Feb 2015, 19:48

People may get that idea about wages from seeing skilled tradesmen charging £20 an hour and then assuming they get that for every hour of the working day, 5 days a week and also forgetting they've got costs taken out too for fuel, clothing etc.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 17 Feb 2015, 05:28

Tiz, I think I heard that programmes as well. I think it was with the Preston North End manager. All my life I have heard the phrase "The National Industrial Wage" and all I knew about it was that my 3/6 an hour was nowhere near this! It was ever thus... Funny how things stick in your memory. Many years ago I heard a radio programme in which industrial workers were questioned about their wages and ambitions in life, particularly whether they were satisfied. The worst paid man was a platelayer on the railway who was on a slightly lower wage than me, about £8-10-0 a week. He was the only one in the group who was satisfied, all the others wanted a bit more. Like Richard I'm all for ambition and bettering yourself but for most of us, all our lives, our satisfaction quotient depended on cutting our coats to suit the cloth. That may be the lesson we should be teaching our kids!
Of course, a major factor these days is the fact that advertising, modern technology and a culture where worth is equated with the ability to consume skew people's expectations. Add to this the playground ranking system that depends on having 'the latest fashion brand' and it's no wonder children have a distorted view of future earnings.
There are advantages from learning early in life to match spending with income. I hear people today complaining about their pensions and what strikes me is that they are not really talking about the actual income, they are talking about the mismatch between the amount and their expectations. I can save money from my pension and to my mind, I have a quality of life second to none. That's the trick, the Micawber Principle.
Having said that, I never forget the deserving people who really are hard up and the reasons for it. The historic problem is the distribution of wealth but as soon as you mention this you are accused of 'the politics of envy' and called a Marxist or even worse...
Statistics like the National Average Wage are an old con trick, used to hide the uncomfortable truths. Go and read Charlie Webster and reflect that nothing has changed in the last 100 years....
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 17 Feb 2015, 10:15

I agree with all that Stanley. Sometimes I mention to people that we don't borrow money and we have no debts. Often the response is "Lucky you, I wish I had as much money as you must have" but it's not to do with how much we've got but rather that we don't fritter it away and we save money for what we need or want, doing without in the meantime where necessary. As you say, it's a lot to do with unrealistic expectations. We have a relative living in a nearby town whose approach to money is like ours and she has a couple of kids at school and she and husband are self-employed. Each year Mrs Tiz receives a £10 M&S voucher (long story behind that, to do with pensions) and we always pass it on to her because we don't live near an M&S. Every time she uses it to buy one of M&S's special `meals for two' including wine and they enjoy it as a treat and are always very pleased and thank us. Give it to many people and they'll probably lose it down the back of the sofa and forget all about it!

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 18 Feb 2015, 05:27

I have a story that reinforces that comment about 'Lucky you'. On the day Vera and I made the final payment on Hey Farm I was in the boiler house at Bancroft Shed and an old mate called in. (I had just started there as firebeater) He commented on how cheerful I looked and asked why so I told him about the farm. He said "Lucky Bugger!" and got the surprise of his life when I blew up in his face! I told him that luck had nothing to do with it. While he was in the pub at night I was tramming up and down the country doing illegal hours and rotten jobs. I don't think he appreciated the valuable pointers I was giving him.....
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 18 Feb 2015, 11:50

Same thing when we told people we were both self-employed and worked from home...they thought it was nirvana but the reality is different when you don't know for sure whether you'll have money coming in from one day to the next.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 19 Feb 2015, 04:53

And they all think you have carte blanche to fiddle your expenses.... Then there was the VAT, the annual accounts and a tax man clawing every halfpenny he could out of you. Tell me about it! The finest moment of my life was when I finalised my accounts at retirement. A huge load lifted off the shoulders....
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by plaques » 25 Mar 2015, 09:44

The latest inflation rate is now said to be at Zero %.(CPI). The headlines are shouting that your basket of goods is costing exactly the same as last month. A closer look will show that there is a slight flaw in this argument. Unfortunately the CORE inflation stands at 1.2%. So what is this 'core' inflation.
Definitions see Definition.

DEFINITION OF 'CORE INFLATION'
A measure of inflation that excludes certain items that face volatile price movements. Core inflation eliminates products that can have temporary price shocks because these shocks can diverge from the overall trend of inflation and give a false measure of inflation.

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS 'CORE INFLATION'
Core inflation is most often calculated by taking the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and excluding certain items from the index, usually energy and food products. Other methods of calculation include the outliers method, which removes the products that have had the largest price changes. Core inflation is thought to be an indicator of underlying long-term inflation.

Basically, if you strip out the volatile items which go up or down then on an overall basis your remaining basket is still going up by 1.2% in the month.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 26 Mar 2015, 05:02

Quite right P. Many of the items in the mythical shopping basket have no relevance for many people.
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 29 Mar 2015, 06:32

Listening to the election coverage I suspect there has never been a greater tide of dodgy statistics, suspect maths and plain lies than what we are offered at the moment. Billions are scattered like confetti and impossible promises made like the one for a 24/7 health service. No mention of where the money will come from or the services that are suffering from under-funding at the moment. Question is, do they think we are all idiots? Surely they must realise that there are some very intelligent people out here, or do they not count? Is the key to winning the lowest common denominator/ Depressing if it is.....
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 29 Mar 2015, 10:49

Nigel Havers on the BH programme this morning said "What I want most from politicians is for them to tell me the truth". He'll be lucky, it's all spin now!

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by plaques » 30 Mar 2015, 19:48

The latest bit of statistical electioneering from the Tory party suggests that under a Labour government the average family tax rise would be £3028. Nobody quite knows how they have arrived at this figure but the BBC have made a stab at it HERE. This amount would raise £51bn but the IFS estimate that Labour would only actually require £6bn. So the figure of £3028 is rather unhelpful and misleading.

Ref 'So where does the £3,028 come from? Enter the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), which explains that the figure is a result of adding up the accumulated tax rises over the years until 2020.
It says: "Cumulating numbers like this over several years is, at best, unhelpful. Ignoring the existence of non-working households doesn't help provide sensible averages either."
It also estimates that Labour's rules mean that it needs to raise £6bn, '
Looking on the bright side, since the average earnings in Pendle are £372.20 per week (£19363 per year) Pendle These earning would have to rise enormously to pay an extra £3028 in tax. Therefore Vote Labour!. Of course this assumption is total nonsense and I don't think for a minute it is meant to be looked at this way. As the old saying goes 'Rubbish in, Rubbish out'

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 31 Mar 2015, 04:42

Hear hear P! We are going to get a lot more of this nonsense in the next few weeks. Best thing is to ignore all of them and decide on track record. The glaring fact about the Tories at the moment is that the content of their election statements is either negative, attacking everyone else, or hilariously inaccurate as in the claim that the economy is 'improved'. The only solid suggestions are coming from the Lib Dems and Labour. Note that the official name is no longer 'New Labour', I suspect because everyone wants the old party back......
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 16 Apr 2015, 09:11

"Billions are the basic unit of general election pledges. But it can be hard to comprehend such vast sums. So what does £1bn of public spending really mean?"
This BBC magazine page is interesting for comparing what £1 billion could pay for LINK

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tripps » 16 Apr 2015, 11:11

I look at this site from time to time to retain a sense of scale. :smile:
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Bruff » 16 Apr 2015, 13:15

Good one, I like that.

Another way of looking at it is the ‘counting’ example. To count out loud at a typical rate to 100 takes about 30s. To get to 1000 takes about 5mins, 100,000 half a day and to get to 1,000,000 take about 2 weeks.

This is where it gets good. To count to a billion would take…………….50 years. And a trillion? 60,000 years there or there abouts.

If you clicked over at 1 per second, it’d still take 32,000 years.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 17 Apr 2015, 04:15

I suspect that the speech writers are influenced by the ease of Googling a stat off the web, makes their job easier. Far harder to read books and find previous examples in history.
I like that site Tripps.....
I remember once talking to a man who said it was impossible for humans to comprehend large numbers, he gave the example of 94 million miles to the sun. I told him he was wrong, I could easily visualise it because in my millions of miles of driving I had watched the broken white lines and cat's eyes scrolling down the windscreen,,,, Far more than 94 million!
If someone wants to persuade me they will get a better result by convincing me that they have ethical, principled policies....
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 23 May 2015, 10:09

A lady in charge of child adoption was on the Today programme this morning and was boasting about an increase in the number of children adopted. This came as a shock to me - I thought we should be looking for ways of having fewer children adopted, i.e. fewer children being in need of adoption. I guess this is a case of someone being so close to her work she forgets that what she says might have a different meaning to the rest of us. I guess what she really meant was an `increase in the successful placement of children in need of adoption'. Tricky things, words!

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Stanley » 24 May 2015, 03:44

I heard her as well and have noted that under another guise (did they call it 'special guardianship'?) children were placed with linked relatives and less financial support given.
Social workers can make adoption very difficult. A close personal friend went through all the stages of adoption but was failed because she had books on sexual deviation on her shelves. They were part of the reading for a course she had successfully completed on Family Counselling...... I know the social workers have to be careful but.......
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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Bruff » 18 Jun 2015, 14:35

Mr Osborne standing in for the PM at PMQs yesterday made an interesting point. Apparently, we have 1% of the world’s population (true), 4% of its GDP (true) but 7% if its welfare spending. Wow. It is of course a nonsense. Not in that the figures are incorrect but rather that well, many countries have no welfare and anyway we are about average on spend with respect to similar economies. Now, these are statistics without context and so the message Mr Osborne wants you to take from it is that spending is too great here so he can prepare folk for the massive reduction that’s coming which, given that not very much at all goes on dossers and scroungers, can only fall on those ‘hard-working families’ who aren’t paid enough by their benevolent employers to put a roof over their heads or food in their bellies (pensioners – those other massive recipients - being exempt).

So all in all, complete statistical drivel for pretty low effect.

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Re: Lies, damned lies and statistics

Post by Tizer » 18 Jun 2015, 16:05

Thanks for pointing that out Richard. We're going to be kept on our toes, checking everything that gets said, promised, claimed. Pity there aren't `moderators' like in Internet forums who could just zap the `bad' statements!

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