Saturday, 6 February 2010

Radio Times Playing With Numbers

In my previous post, I mentioned I'd contacted the Radio Times to determine the source of some stats used in an article on portrayal of pubs and drinking in soaps, authored by Gareth McLean.

RT responded, and they gave me the link to a two-part article from the Guardian entitled 'Under The Influence'. It's still online and you can read it here. Thing is, it was written in 2004, and yet McLean thought it suitable to use some of the numbers from the piece without updating or researching their currency or validity. Another example of credulous reportage which supports a corporate or policy agenda? Given Pete Brown's recent convo with the BBC online, it's hard not to draw an inference.

I've written to RT with a link to Pete Brown's re-analysis of the Health Select Committee's report. However, I thought I'd link that Guardian article, because to me it's an example of some of the shabby thinking that has shaped Government initiatives across a range of social topics for the past decade. Whether you think the science is unduly alarmist, it seems at the time that HMG already had its mind made up, and wanted the data to support it. Where have we heard that before? [cough cough] dodgy dossier [cough splutter]

Now we are served up some confusing numbers on glassing incidents in order to drive a change in beer glassware. You can download the whole publication which informed the media coverage here. Again, I can't help thinking that minds within the Home Office are already made up, and by establishing these inclusive, "stakeholder-driven" initiatives, they keep the troublemakers in the tent pissing outwards onto everybody else. Interestingly, if you read both the 2004 piece and the Designing Out Crime stuff, one name features in both, that of Steve Thomas of Luminar Group, the UK's largest nightclub operator. A man who's learned how to play the game. Somebody who pushed hard to get reform of licensing to be able to grow his business, then got 'the kidz' to drink their continental lagers and alcopops from polycarb vessels.

Generally, having seemingly suppressed alarming 'evidence' to support changes to licensing laws, we're now having startling numbers force-fed to us to stigmatise our choice of drink and venue. For fuck's sake, what do these people want?

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