The Independent’s ‘Lost Girls’: A Truly Epic Fail in Data Journalism

Okay, quick recap: Yesterday, The Independent Newspaper published an article by its Science Editor, Steve Connor, in which its purports to have uncovered evidence of what it claims to be widespread use of illegal sex-selective abortions by ‘some UK ethnic groups’, all based on a bespoke data set […]

The Indie’s ‘Lost Girls’ may not be what it appears

Okay, this is a bit of rush job but even in the absence of any data to work with, the Independent’s claim to have uncovered evidence in the 2011 census data that gender selective abortion is being ‘widely used’ by some UK ethnic groups requires n immediate response: […]

Plebgate and the Illusion of Memory

Okay, so Plebgate is back in the news today because Keith Wallis, the Metropolitan Police Officer who false claimed to have witnessed the incident in an email sent to his local MP has admitted a charge of misconduct in public office and offered to resign from the force. […]

Domestic Abuse Statistics and Margins of Error

Today’s Observer is running a story on research by Citizens Advice which, more than anything else, serves to demonstrate just how easily statistical information can be abused to present an alarming but potentially inaccurate picture of reality… Domestic abuse: half a million victims ‘too terrified to come forward’ […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Online Child Porn – What the Papers Aren’t Telling You.

In the wake of the convictions of Stuart Hazell and Mark Bridger for sexually motivated murders of children, the papers are awash with speculative commentaries on online child pornography. The Daily Mail (of course) wants to know ‘What WILL it take for Google to block child porn?’ even […]

Statistics Laundering, Online Pornography and the Daily Mail

For this article I’m going to return to a subject I covered yesterday, that of ‘porn statistics’ or, to be more precise, statistics published widely on both the internet and by newspapers and other media organisation which purport to show that large numbers of children and young people […]