Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The UK census: in rationalistic, secular modernity numbers mean nothing at all


I have just been reading some of the summary data released from the 2011 UK census.

The picture it paints is objectively terrifying; yet essentially nobody has taken any notice, and nobody will take any notice - the whole things just provides a couple of low-ranking 'talking points' for a couple of days in 'the news'.


I am not going to try and summarize the data, nor highlight anything in particular; but the 2011 census was bad news all round; very bad news indeed: it screams unsustainable. It declares not just the death of Britain but that this has already happened.


For me there were no surprises - yet I still find it shocking to consider the numbers, to consider the implications, to consider the complete and total and absolute incomprehension of these implications in... well pretty much everybody in the UK, so far as I can tell.

In a rational world, such as modern Britain imagines itself to be, data like this would evoke a seismic change in the whole strategy of the nation; except of course that numbers like this could not have happened if it were not for dishonesty and wicked intentions on a scale that would have beggared the belief of earlier generations.

But it is clear that people simply don't understand numbers. Numbers mean nothing to them.


I am not an adept mathematician - I have above average ability, for sure; but distinctly less above average than in most subjects.

Yet I understand the meaning of numbers as they apply to life in a way that is clearly very rare indeed among human beings - in this sense I am a 'natural' statistician.

This emerged around the period when I was a lecturer in epidemiology (the statistics of disease); I spent most of the time trying to explain what numbers did and didn't mean. Not as a matter of my opinion, but simply trying to translate what the results of studies implied

Or in most cases did not apply - the striking thing about almost all epidemiological studies is that they were worthless, yet interpreted as meaningful, hence much worse than nothing. For example the vast majority of randomized controlled trials of drugs were not just worthless with respect to clinical management, but actively (indeed deliberately) misleading.


Anyway, in this project of getting people to understand the meaning of numbers, I got nowhere: and this continues.

I am not talking rocket science - I am talking (perhaps mostly) about the meaning of a statistic such as an average.

Yes, just a plain old average - what does it mean?  What are its implications?

Well, it turns out the the meaning of averages is way, way beyond most people - including professional statisticians; for the simple reason that meaning of an average depends on the specific context - and cannot therefore be reduced to a single definition or put onto a protocol.


Anyway, my point is that exercises such as the Census are truly terrifying revelations of the intractable and bone-headed incomprehension of numbers which is intrinsic to human beings (except for a few freaks, such as myself, who simply do not count - since we cannot communicate with nor convince anybody else - indeed most people find this questions so boring that they cannot even attend for two minutes: literally).

My solution is not, not, not that somehow humans should be educated into an understanding of the implications of numbers - but simply that we should acknowledge that for 99 point something percent of the population numbers mean not just nothing, but worse than nothing - they are dazzled by numbers like worthless sparkly trinkets.

We should (and I mean should in a moral sense) stop collecting numbers, stop publishing numbers, stop pretending to discuss numbers, stop imagining that plans and policies are or ever will be made on the basis of numbers.


Just stop: and look around us, and observe what is to be observed, and develop our understanding on the basis of personal experience - supplemented by the personal experience of those (few) who are competent and whom we trust.

Forget the Census and all the rest of it;  the Census merely confirms what we could easily see with our own eyes; yet the Census displaces what we see with our own eyes - and in the end we see nothing at all.



stephens said...

As one brave chap once pointed out, at great cost to his career:

"The supreme function of statesmanship is to provide against preventable evils. In seeking to do so, it encounters obstacles which are deeply rooted in human nature.

One is that by the very order of things such evils are not demonstrable until they have occurred: at each stage in their onset there is room for doubt and for dispute whether they be real or imaginary. By the same token, they attract little attention in comparison with current troubles, which are both indisputable and pressing: whence the besetting temptation of all politics to concern itself with the immediate present at the expense of the future.

Above all, people are disposed to mistake predicting troubles for causing troubles and even for desiring troubles: 'If only,' they love to think, 'if only people wouldn't talk about it, it probably wouldn't happen.'"

I am too young to know of his character but he certainly seems to have got it right, whatever his reasons. You only have to look around the world to see where our future lies and it's not in the shape of England past.

Most statesmen don't seem to care enough to do anything.
Others like Frank Field are at least trying with their "Balanced Migration" efforts.

Jonathan C said...

Prof. Charlton, since you don't plan to summarize, can you please provide a link so that we know we're looking at the same summary data as you are? Thank you.

George Goerlich said...

Canada is facing very similar data (Toronto can be directly compared to London).

The US too... I guess in a way the ex-colonies are all facing similar outcomes. Fortunately the US and Canada are very large with lots of space and empty areas. In comparison, Britain is a very small very crowded island.

SonofMoses said...

This matter of large-scale immigration into countries the majority of whose citizens are entirely against such a thing, I see as an example illustrating a curious phenomenon.

In fact, reluctant as I am to be thought of as crazy, I can only understand it as evidence of some sort of international conspiracy.

During the sixties or seventies, I think it was, Turks began to flow into Germany, Arabs into France, Mexicans into the USA, and a little later an ever-mounting flood of assorted nationalities and racial groups into England.

I am one of the last recognisable Englishmen in my part of West London!

As I said, practically no one living in those countries at the time wished this to happen, yet it began to happen all over the Western world.

Who or what was behind this?

As I followed current affairs I realised this was only a small part of a huge spider’s web of curious social phenomena.

I began to notice all sorts of other strange happenings, connected in some way, but how?

Sometimes it seemed to be coming from the EU, sometimes from the extreme left, sometimes it seemed to have to do with the behaviour of mega-corporations.

Recently there has been talk of a secretive organization called Common Purpose involving leading bureaucrats in positions of authority all over the place, local government, the civil service, the police force, the church, you name it.

But this is only a small part of what is happening, and it seems to be cleverly coordinated.

There is Davos and all sorts of other clubs of informed and influential in-groups.

What is the common factor in all this?

It certainly isn’t the will of the people or any desire for the common good.

Crazy ideas are one thing, but this seems to be highly organised and very efficient.

Who has the facts?

Where is it all set out?

bgc said...

@SoM - "we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

The ruling elite have been leaving Christ and switching allegiance to the enemy.

P.S. I hadn't realized before that you were in England.

George Goerlich said...

Just to take one part of this phenomenon that requires no conspiracy (and this word's negative connotations) to explain:

Many political and economic leaders appear to literally consider humans as interchangeable cogs.

The Western world has low birth rates, but an economy that is dependent on population growth for workers, output and consumers. The government is similarly dependent on growth. It is common knowledge that the Social Security and Medicare programs in the US, and I'm assuming pension programs in Europe as well, will fail without growth via a new and ever increasing body of tax payers.

Now back to the idea of interchangeable cogs: because all humans are necessarily considered equal, or you are in violation of political correctness, the "obvious" solution to this is to simply import more workers. It is assumed that they merely need a Western liberal education and any foreign human units can be exchanged for any aging Western workers without any problems. As an added bonus thrown in, we get leftist ideals like diversity and multiculturalism.

The issue the US is ignoring seems to be that many of the new "worker" units are primarily coming to take advantage of social services while not paying any taxes, doing the exact opposite of what the "great idea" considered obvious and causing the failure of social programs to speed up instead of being postponed.

Its amazing how quick these changes can occur with the modern transportation developed by the West, displacing populations and completely transforming countries in a very small number of years.

stephens said...

@George Goerlich - "The Western world has low birth rates, but an economy that is dependent on population growth for workers, output and consumers. The government is similarly dependent on growth. It is common knowledge that the Social Security and Medicare programs in the US, and I'm assuming pension programs in Europe as well, will fail without growth via a new and ever increasing body of tax payers."

The problem being that the growth must never ever stop, it's a pyramid scam!
This is why The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee reported "We conclude that. it is neither appropriate nor feasible to attempt to counter the trend towards a more aged society in the UK through a manipulation of immigration policy" and the UN World Economic and Social Survey stated "Incoming migration (To Europe) would have to expand at virtually impossible rates to offset declining support ratios, that is, workers per retirees".
Economies and Pension systems will still fail, but on a much grander scale. Politicians just buy a better today at great cost for tomorrow!

thorshammers said...

The English will be better off separating from London. A government in Oxford with no separation of church and state. The carrot would be a redistribution of land. Low tax etc.

chris said...

"Who or what was behind this?"

I blame capitalists and leftists working together to subvert the nation for their own ends. The capitalists for money, the leftists for a neo-soviet utopia.