Today's letter from the Editor
Today's Matrices
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - web services, XML and API

£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

i Editor's Letter: Lies, damn lies, and statistics

 

One of my best friends studied maths at university, while I studied English. He was the exception to my set, which was largely liberal arts-based, partly because of the campus’s geography, but also down to disposition.

As we discovered when we spent one memorable day going to each other’s lectures, the student bodies could not have been more different. I was often overwhelmed in English lectures by the aroma of perfume wafting fragrantly from my predominantly female, Sloaney (remember them?) stripey shirt-wearing fellow students. The maths lecture? A different smell hung in the male, heavy metal T-shirt-wearing air. Mixed in with it was my fear: I had no clue what they were talking about.

As my statistician friend set off on a career path to becoming the head of epidemiology at major pharmaceuticals companies, I had huge admiration for the apparent certainty of what he did. But, with all due respect to that stellar career, life teaches you that there really are “lies, damn lies and statistics”. Never was this clearer than with this week’s unemployment and GDP figures, and that 7 per cent fall in the crime rate.

So, crime figures go down if the police do not count all the victims’ reported incidents as such. Despite daily headlines about thousands being laid off, unemployment figures fall if we count the under-employed as fully employed. And, despite the views of Coalition partners and the world’s leading economists – austerity is working although GDP is down 0.3 per cent, our fourth quarter of negative growth out of five.

The Chancellor insists we’re on the right track. Who to believe? Or, if I could phrase it in a way I understand: “George Osborne, a man more sinned against than sinning?” Discuss. See you on Monday.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style