Sex Selective Abortion and the Public Interest

Okay, time to get back in the saddle after a short break to recharge my batteries and we’ll start, as so often seems to be the case, with abortion and an editorial which finds the Telegraph in somewhat conspiratorial mood:

The decision of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) not to prosecute two abortion doctors who allegedly broke the law by offering gender-specific terminations raises a host of questions that need urgently to be answered. The apparent abuses were exposed by a Daily Telegraph undercover investigation into suggestions that clinics were prepared to offer “sex-selection” abortions to women who were carrying girl foetuses. After an 18-month police investigation, the CPS agreed there was sufficient evidence to bring charges and a realistic… Read more »

Cameron ‘Porn’ Advisor’s website ‘hacked’ – Threatens/Libels Blogger

I’m perhaps one of the last people you’d expect to see stepping up to defend Paul Staines (aka Guido Fawkes) but you’d be wrong because there are principles that come into play whenever a blogger, even one as notorious as Guido, is subjected to an unjustified, hectoring attack by a bullying politician for reasons that have never been better expressed than by the playwright Robert Bolt:

Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law! More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that! More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on… Read more »

MPs’ Pay and the Law of Misleading Averages

By now you’ll surely have seen the that IPSA, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, has recommended that MPs should receive a 9% increase in their pay in 2015/16 which, on top of the 1% increases they’re due to receive in the next two year, will raise the basis gross salary for a backbencher to £74,000 a year from its current figure of £66,366 a year. IPSA have also proposed that from 2015 onwards MP’s pay should be indexed to changes in average earnings and, as justification for this increase, has put forward the argument that since 1980, the amount we pay our backbench MPS has fallen relative to average earnings from 3.16 times the average in 1980 to just 2.7 times the average today. Now when people start taking about… Read more »

On Kier Starmer’s Rape Inquiry

If there is one thing I learned very well back in the days that I worked in and with the Public Sector it’s that once you get above a certain level of seniority, the staff become highly adept at creating unnecessary work purely for the sake of creating the appearance of doing something that might appear important or worthwhile to the general public but which, in reality, serves no other useful purpose. A little over ten years ago, I was involved in the planning and development of what was, for the time, an extremely innovative local public health project; a local health information website. That may not sound like much today, but this was back in days when the vast… Read more »

Polygraph Screening for Sex Offenders: Bad Science, Even Worse Policy

Of the many variations on Martin Niemoller’s famous ‘First they came for…’ speech I’ve seen kicking around the Internet none, so far as I can recall, has ever started with the line ‘First they came for the sex offenders”. As population sub-groups go, it’s difficult to think of many that are less likely to attract any significant levels of public sympathy with ratcheting up the ante to the level of prolific serial killers and murderous despots but nevertheless there are still times when it necessary to speak out on behalf of the basic rights of people that one is instinctively inclined to despise, not least when those rights are to be unjustly and unfairly threatened by the state, as… Read more »

Harriet Harman, the BBC and Those ‘Disappearing’ Female Presenters

A little over a month ago you may recall that there was a bit of a short-lived furore over claims that female TV presenters routinely disappear from our screens once they reach the age of 50. The source of this claim was a Labour Party policy review group with the rather ostentatious title of the “Commission on Older Women” and, more specifically, Labour’s current Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman who, let’s be honest, has more than enough previous form when it comes to statistics abuse to justify checking her figures yourself even if she were to tell you that two plus two equals four. To give a quick recap, the headline claims that appeared just over a month ago in the New… Read more »

How Big Is Online Porn?

I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last three weeks or so debunking a variety of spurious claims about online porn. Amanda Platell claimed to have watched a child porn video she found using Google, but that proved to be an old commercial porn video in which the female performer was at least 18 years old at the time it was made. The Internet Watch Foundation claimed that 1.5 million people in Britain have ‘stumbled across’ child porn online, but it’s ‘study’ turned out to be nothing more than a dubiously constructed opinion poll and the IWF’s own data shows that around three out of every four web pages reported to it by the public as containing child porn turn… Read more »

Google and Child Porn-Related Search Engine Traffic

Warning: May contain actual evidence. Three weeks ago, I published a couple of articles in the space of two days that conclusively debunked Amanda Platell’s claim that it was easy to find child pornography online using nothing more than Google proving, first, that a porn video she described watching in her article was actually a legally produced commercial porn video and, second, that the female performer in the video, whom she described as being ‘in her early teens’ was at least 18, if not 19 years old at the time the video was made, way back in 2001. In writing those articles, I chose my words carefully in order to quietly run a little experiment. You see although I’m no SEO expert, I… Read more »

Sex, Lies and Porn Statistics

The latest newspaper to jump on the burgeoning anti-porn bandwagon is the Sunday Times, which recently put its name to a “symposium” on the “dangers to children of online pornography” in conjunction with the Tory Think-tank Policy Exchange:

The Sunday Times is organising a symposium on the dangers to children of online pornography. The aims of the event, which will take place at the Policy Exchange in London tomorrow, are to raise awareness of the issues surrounding online pornography and provide a forum for a range of experts to discuss the growing crisis caused by its easy access for children. Keynote speakers include: Gail Dines – author of Pornland and Professor of Sociology at Wheelock College, Boston will be talking about… Read more »

Have 1.5 million adults really “stumbled across” online child porn?

Having parked its [septic] tanks on Google’s lawn, the media’s efforts to generate a full blown moral panic around the existence of online pornography continued this morning with an appearance on the BBC’s Breakfast News programme by Susie Hargreaves, tbe current CEO of the Internet Watch Foundation. To be honest, I wasn’t paying too much at the time but Hargreaves tripped my bullshit detector by casually claiming that the IWF had done some sort of research that apparently showed that 1.5 million people had accidentally run across child porn while surfing teh Interwebs. 1.5 MILLION..? No… there’s something seriously screwy going on there but, of course, one should always check primary sources before dismissing dodgy-looking statistical claims out of hand, so off… Read more »