Gail Dines: Short on Facts, Crap Figures

*** Warning – Very long post ahead. Get supplies before sitting down to read ***

Last time around I followed the trail of just one dubiously provenanced Internet porn ‘statistic’ from its first appearance in 2003 on a US website owned by tech entrepreneur and content filter salesman, Jerry Ropelato, through its subsequent appearance in everything from academic literature to an official report published by the International Telecommunications Union, all without anyone, it seems, bothering to check the validity of that ‘statistic’ for which there is currently no known original source. I put that last article together to serve as a precursor to this one, which looks in detail at a variety of statistics and other items of ‘factual’ information published on a… Read more »

The Dodgy Porn Statistic That Took Over The World

As a quick trailer, I’m currently working on an article which looks in detail at a ‘fact and figures‘ page published by Gail Dines on her ‘Stop Porn Culture’ website in which, amongst other things, she cites a number of ‘statistics’ sourced from Jerry Ropelato’s ‘Internet Filter Review’ (IFR) website. Now regular visitors to the Ministry will know that I’ve written about Ropelato and his ‘statistics’ before, but before I give Dines the full once over I think it worth recapping what is already known about one of her main sources of statistical information for both her website and, as you’ll see at the end, her 2010 book ‘Pornland’. IFR is part of a site called ‘Top Ten Reviews’ which (amusingly)… Read more »

The Testiculating Dr Pemberton

Over at the Daily Telegraph Max Pemberton, who’s also a doctor, has written an opinion piece on abortion which, amongst other things, neatly illustrates the kind of problems that can easily arise if you’re gullible enough to believe everything you read in the newspapers. The problems with Pemberton’s article begin in the very first paragraph:

There can be few medical procedures so politically charged as abortion. Simply uttering the term polarises people. Battle lines are drawn and there is an expectation that you will join one camp or the other. For or against, pro-life or pro-choice: the narrative rarely extends beyond this simple dichotomy. And, if you are pro-choice, any criticism of abortion is considered a heresy.

That may well… Read more »

Question: Is this a reference to rape?

One of my favourite George Carlin routines deals with the subject of euphemisms and it includes one of the great “cut the bullshit” observations of all time:

Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins. It’s as simple as that. The CIA doesn’t kill anybody anymore, they neutralize people…or they depopulate the area. The government doesn’t lie, it engages in disinformation. The pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters. Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part of it to us, do… Read more »

Plebgate, Ed Miliband and A few inconvenient facts

Let’s keep this simple and cut through the bullshit with a few facts that some people seen very keen to overlook. FACT – The police officer, PC Toby Rowland, to whom Andrew Mitchell MP briefly spoke at the gates of Downing Street on the evening of 19 September 2012 has not been convicted of any criminal offence in relation to this incident. FACT – The police officer, PC Toby Rowland, to whom Andrew Mitchell MP briefly spoke at the gates of Downing Street on the evening of 19 September 2012 has not been charged with any criminal offence in relation to this incident. FACT – The police officer, PC Toby Rowland, to whom Andrew Mitchell MP briefly spoke at the gates of Downing Street… Read more »

The Observer and the Male Pill

What is it with Sunday newspapers and contraception? First we had the Mail on Sunday’s utterly irresponsible piece of front page scaremongering around the risks associated with third generation oral contraceptives, now we have Tim Lewis’s article on the problems of developing a ‘male pill’ in The Observer which contains this gloriously idiotic piece of gross understatement:

Amobi heard this story and he also discovered research from the early 1980s that there was another, very different drug with a similar side-effect: phenoxybenzamine, a medication for high-blood pressure. For some reason, these two treatments disrupted the so-called Mexican wave that a man experiences during sex to produce a “dry orgasm”. All Amobi and his team had to do was to find… Read more »

The Mail on Sunday and Oral Contraceptives

A couple of days ago the Director of the Hacked Off campaign group, Brian Cathcart, published an article on the Huffington Post containing a table of figures that the Press Complaints Commission would much prefer that the public didn’t see, one which shows which newspapers attracted the most PCC complaints in 2013. The top five newspapers on that list runs as follows:

1. Daily Mail – 1,214 complaints 2. The Sun – 638 complaints 3. Daily Telegraph – 300 complaints 4. Daily Mirror – 242 complaints 5. Mail on Sunday – 168 complaints

The Mail on Sunday, of course, publishes only one edition per week compared to the six per week published by the four newspapers ahead of it in the PCC’s chart of shame.  Its 168 complaints last year are the… Read more »

Jesus & Mo and Channel 4 News

So, without wishing to waste time recapping events that are probably already familiar to most of my regular readers, the ongoing shitstorm of the wonderful Jesus and Mo cartoon strip started with this tweet by Maajid Nawaz: To me, it matters that you can see that for yourself. Channel 4 News, on the other hand, clearly doesn’t feel the same way so when it covered this story the image that was shown to the British public was this one: This is perhaps a small improvement on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, where they declined to show any kind of image of this ‘offending cartoon’, but as I’m not aware that the BBC has yet put out any kind of statement that either… Read more »

Seagulling: An Urban Myth?

As regular visitors to the Ministry are well aware I’m something of an obsessive fact checker. Show me an article in the media that says ‘research has shown…’ or ‘scientists have said…’  and my immediate reaction is pretty much always ‘citation please’ unless the article to a field in which I’m already very familiar with the published research, in which the reaction will tend to be either ‘fair enough’ or ‘that looks like bullshit to me’. One way or another, I’m a stickler for facts so if you make any kind of factual claims then be prepared to back them up with evidence; and if you don’t and you catch my interest then you can be sure I’ll go looking… Read more »

Have Chinese Researchers Found A Link Between Abortion And Breast Cancer?

Even by my own standards this is a long article at a little over 14,000 words including references. The main subject of the article is a recent Chinese ‘ABC’ (Abortion-Breast Cancer) study, a meta-analysis of 36 studies looking at the relationship between induced abortion and women’s risk of subsequently developing breast cancer in which the authors claim to have found evidence that induced abortion does indeed increase women’s risk of developing breast cancer later in life. This, as you may well imagine, has got the anti-abortion lobby both here and in the United States very excited. So much so that earlier this week it was reported that one of the leading UK-based anti-abortion organisations, LIFE, has written to current Public Health minister,… Read more »