Getting a grip

Mrs S and I now have our house back. True, there are bits that don’t work and look a bit dog eared, but nothing that can’t be fixed without a few gallons of elbow grease and cleaning materials. We have power, we are once more connected to the jolly old Interwebs. We are home.

True, there are no paintings on the wall, some of which are not painted, no curtains grace our windows, but we are home. There is wine and beer in the fridge and food in the larder. We are not stumbling over a rats nest of extension cables. The heating works. Our showers are hot and even the dishwasher works. There is even the promise of a modest crop of honey in the next few days.

So we will be taking tiffin out in the yard this evening with two ever refilling glasses of Prosecco (Neither of us think we’re at the champagne stage yet) and a dry little Sauvignon blanc to complement our repast. We’ve spent a chunk of hard earned change to get to this point, but we currently owe no-one anything, at least until our next tax bills come in.

Mrs S is still hobbling around on crutches because she has to wear a brace on her leg, but we get by. Money moves to where it does most good, which is daily business by the way, not money laundering as one feckin eejit intimated. I take a dim view of being accused of something I do not do, and tend not to forgive such slurs. Call me any name you like and it won’t raise an eyebrow. However, false accusations will always get short shrift. My customary good humour always goes into failure mode on such occasions.

Notwithstanding, we are finally getting our lives back in some sort of order. Getting a grip, as they say.

Speaking of honesty, I keep on seeing some academic or luminary popping into the public press stating that they are ‘following the science’ and therefore anyone else is a heretic and should be publicly burned at the next barbecue. As one whose training includes courses on Technical writing and editing, I thought I’d have a look through the literature they claim is so air tight. I’ve deliberately left the TV off the hook, no Amazon Prime, no other televisual entertainment, so I downloaded a few tools and set to reading. The following is what I know to be true.

Let me explain; in technical writing and editing there is a thing called an ‘executive summary’, which is to put it in it’s simplest form, a list of talking points. Not definite facts or figures, but talking points. Things which look like facts, but sometimes don’t reflect the original document or can actively misrepresent what the original documentation says. Say a scientific paper presents with the interpretation that states that such and such might happen if the figures are right. If the mathematical modelling turns out to be accurate, In the executive summary this may be rewritten to read that such and such is definitely true, so help us God, so send more money please. We may have to recheck our figures to be sure. We really mean it about the money.

Now what is stated in the executive summary is often written by people who are not the original researchers, but those paid to interpret the information for the lowest common denominator of intelligence, politicians.

In the commercial world, a board of directors or senior manager requires an ‘executive summary’ to provide information that is timely and reflects the situation as presented. In the public sector, these rules seem not to apply and executive summaries are often posted as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, cross my heart and hope to die, terrapins tickle me if I lie, when the source documentation is often more vague on a topic. In the public sector the requirements for the summary can say “What’s the worst that can happen?” so those who produce the interpretations of the summaries provide the worst that can happen. Whether this is supported by the studies in question or not. Even NGO’s get involved in this cavalcade of glossy misrepresentation and very few people have the time and energy to tell them that’s not what the study says at all. Thus failure and inaccuracy have thus become baked into the system. ‘The science’ becomes “What we say it is. So there!” rather than the result of diligence, experimental replication and erudite investigation.

Scientific researchers who contradict these narratives constructed on the back of such executive summaries can find themselves out in the cold, because if they do not provide what the politicians underlings or the NGO’s want, bang goes their funding. They can even find themselves losing tenure, which is academic death. Unless they can get a decent social media channel going and have the skills to explain their work to the public direct. Even so, they risk being publicly derided by the dishonest as ‘conspiracy theorists’ spreading ‘disinformation’, even when such a statement is a bald faced lie.

We caught a glimpse of part of this phenomenon in a Twitter stream observed by Spectator Editor, Fraser Nelson during the ongoing COVID debacle, where the then head of SAGE was caught stating that they had been asked for a worst case scenario, so they had torture the data models until that’s what the pandemic looked like. A worst case scenario.

So politicians produce legislation based on bad information. Because that’s all they can do with the information provided.

Now if only we had politicians educated and motivated enough to see through the misrepresentations…. Bugger it. We’re screwed aren’t we?

4 thoughts on “Getting a grip”

  1. I am so pleased for you that everything is going well.

    I don’t know what is going on in the outside World and I don’t have any money beyond a few measly bob which was hard saved, so I do things when I can afford to, which isn’t often. Mostly outside things like Rooves and Doors. The inside will just have to hang in there and at least the house won’t fall down. Not that there was ever much chance of that.

    Like

    1. We are a little better off, but not by much, and by husbanding our resources carefully. I do a lot of favour trading, which seems to be popular and although more complex, with good faith is better than having to pay five times as much to a ‘professional’ for a product whose superiority is perhaps a little debatable.

      Like

  2. As I was STEM-educated, it always causes merriment to see or hear, ‘follow the science’, or worse, ‘the science is settled’, from media types. Their ignorance seems bottomless.
    And now the pandemic is officially over (acc. to the CDC), it’ll be fascinating to watch some of the useful idiots we’ve endured over the last two years squirming in front of the cameras, as they try to justify their dereliction of duty and promotion of known lies. But it will certainly not be entertaining, as too many have died as a result of their insane policies.

    Like

Comments are closed.