DWP trial of “attitude to work” assessments is unethical and potentially unlawful

Around five weeks or so ago The Independent published a report on the DWP’s latest wheeze:

Benefit claimants will face ‘attitude to work’ assessments under new government plans People claiming benefits will be expected to undergo attitude tests to assess if they have a psychological resistance to work under new plans revealed by the employment minister. Esther McVey said benefit claimants will be profiled to see if they feel “determined”, “bewildered” or “despondent” at the prospect of employment. Those who are deemed less mentally prepared for life at work will undergo intensive coaching at the job centre, The Telegraph reports, while people who are judged to be more positive about work will be placed on less rigorous schemes. “It… Read more »

Fifty Shades of Stupid: Nadine Dorries, The Sunday Times and Foetal Viability

This was going to be quite a straightforward article. After all, how difficult could it be to dismantle the latest banal and ill-conceived witterings of Nadine Dorries, the sitting MP for the constituency of Mid-Narnia, on the subject of abortion and abortion law? But then I ran into a problem, one that begins with the very first sentence of Dorries’ article:

Last week, the most recent EPICure study confirmed what many always knew; that if the NHS throws everything it has at saving the life of a premature baby born at 23 weeks gestation, there is an excellent chance of survival and an ongoing healthy life.

The problem is that there is no new EPICure study on which Dorries’ could hang… Read more »

Do Goldfish have a longer attention span than American Internet Users?

If what you read on the Internet is to be trusted – and let’s face it the Internet never lies, then I have around eight seconds to convince you that this article is worth reading because most of you have an average attention span that’s slightly worse than that of a goldfish. With that picture of a goldfish in bowl added to the mix that’s about eight seconds’ worth of content and we’ve now ditched all the fish-brained slackers, so if you’re still here then hopefully you might be interested in finding out why this whole idea that Internet is somehow altering people’s brains and reducing their attention span over time is nothing short of a load of foetid dingo’s… Read more »

What Saatchi Doesn’t Tell You

Okay, I’m going to keep this short and sweet because I’m working on something else at the moment but there a little something that I want to toss into the growing online debate about the “Saatchi Bill” or, to give its proper title, the Medical Innovation Bill. The back story here, if you’ve not come across it before, starts with the death, in 2011, of the author Josephine Hart the cause of which was primary peritoneal cancer. Hart was married to the wealthy PR guru and Conservative peer Maurice Saatchi and it is as a member of the House of Lords that Saatchi is seeking to introduce a private Bill which he claims which he, his supporters and a slick and… Read more »

The Indy plumbs new depths of irresponsibility

I expect at least some of you will recall that “The Independent” was originally launched as a quality newspaper. Those days have, however, long since passed as evidenced by today’s front page splash: But before you take any of those statements too seriously, you really pay close attention to the caveats in paragraphs 9 & 10 of the article that goes with this scaremongering headline:

Commenting on the new studies, Dr Aylin said they added up to “powerful” evidence of a global problem in healthcare. “The German study is interesting in raising afternoon surgery as an issue, but as the authors acknowledge, it may be that ‘the patients treated in the afternoon and on the weekends were more severely ill’,” he said…. Read more »

DoH report refutes Indy’s “Lost Girls” Sex-Selective Abortion Exposé

Sometimes it’s not so much what newspapers print as what they don’t print that matters. Last week, for example, the Department of Health published what was supposedly “new” guidance on sex-selective abortion, if a simple restatement of the existing legal position, which remains entirely unchanged, can actually be called “new”. The Telegraph, which has been pushing the issue of sex-selective abortion for quite some time, made a bit of a show of reporting the story and, of course, complaining bitterly that their own ‘sting’ operation on two doctors who were allegedly willing to carry out sex-selective abortions, when they were approached by an undercover journalist working for the newspaper, failed to result in any kind of prosecution. However, as I… Read more »

Drinkable Sunscreen “Doctor” ran Online “Pill Mill”

A couple of days of ago, the travel sections of the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail – or, as I prefer to think of them, Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber – both ran what were essentially advertorials for the same new product; “Harmonized H20 UV“, which is being marketed by a Colorado-based company, Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare, at £17 per 100ml bottle as a “drinkable sunscreen”. Now I know what you’re thinking because I had exact same thought when I read the story – B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T – and I’m pleased to say that the good folks at the British Dermatological Association had much the same thoughts. So they fired off an email to the creator of this new “wonder” product, “Dr” Ben Johnson… Read more »

What “Porn Culture”? (Part 1)

[This is the first of two articles looking in depth at testimony given to a Pennsylvania District Court by Gail Dines while acting as an “expert” witness for the US Department of Justice and, as you might well imagine, it’s a pretty long article so for the sake of convenience, if you’d prefer to read it offline using an e-book reader then you can download it as a PDF. Part one, which is that part, deals with Dines’ attempt to analyse porn-related search engine traffic. Part two, which will be posted in a few days, deals with her analysis of the content of porn tube websites and will include not only an overview of how and why the porn industry… Read more »

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 »