Benford’s Law: using stats to bust an entire nation for naughtiness.

September 23rd, 2011 by Ben Goldacre in crime, economics, statistics, structured data | 8 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 17 September 2011

This week we might bust an entire nation for handing over dodgy economic statistics. But first: why would they bother? Well, it turns out that whole countries have an interest in distorting their accounts, just like companies and individuals. If you’re an Euro member like Greece, for example, you have to comply with various economic criteria, and there’s the risk of sanctions if you miss them. Read the rest of this entry »

Politicians can divine which policy works best by using their special magic politician beam

May 22nd, 2010 by Ben Goldacre in bad science, crime, drurrrgs, politics | 38 Comments »

Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Saturday 22 May 2010

So all good citizens this week are poring over the “Programme For Government”, and it’s true to say that there is much to be pleased with. Labour wasn’t all about unbridled credit and fun public sector spending sprees: they kept all your emails, kept records of the websites you visited, used “anti-terrorism” legislation on people who plainly weren’t terrorists, and so on.

But most interesting are the noises now being made about crime and evidence. “We will conduct a full review of sentencing policy” they say: “to ensure that it is effective in deterring crime, protecting the public, punishing offenders and cutting reoffending. In particular, we will ensure that sentencing for drug use helps offenders come off drugs.”

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