I started a recent blog by explaining;
‘When I use a number to support my argument, it is robust, accurate and completely reliable. When you use a number to refute my point it is a statistic and we all know the one about ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’.’
Today, I want to look at two lots of statistics and see if either of them contain numbers...more
There are people who talk to their plants in order to get them to grow better. Some of them actually believe that what they say has a genuine affect, others simply think it can’t do any harm and it may do good.
It strikes me that this is very much like people’s attitude to homeopathy; some believe passionately and others think it may be worth a try. Come to think of it, one of the people best known for allegedly talking to plants is also a supporter of homeopathy...more
In honour of the day, I thought it might be interesting to look at the connections between the Olympics and poison. It was, in a way, encouraging to find very few such connections. Over the history of the modern games, at least, I would have expected to see more stories.
In fact, I found very few items where plant based poisons have been associated with the Olympics so I’m going to widen my net to all poisons...more
Since there is going to be a certain amount of numbers in this piece, I thought I’d start by making one thing very clear. When I use a number to support my argument, it is robust, accurate and completely reliable. When you use a number to refute my point it is a statistic and we all know the one about ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’.
It seems to me that it is this positioning that makes it so difficult for people to accept evidence, when it truly is, leading to the same subjects going round and round...more
I know where George Lucas got the idea for the scrolling introductory text he used at the start of ‘Star Wars’. I suppose I should call that ‘Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope’ and I should say he may have done the same for the other films in the series but I’ve only ever seen ‘Star Wars’ so that is the only one I know about.
And I know where Dennis Potter got the idea of having adult actors play children that he used in ‘Blue Remembered Hills’. I know both these things because, last evening, I watched ‘Reefer Madness’...more
I had a quick look at ‘Mail Watch’ the website dedicated to taking the Daily Mail and Mail Online to task for poor quality reporting. I thought, perhaps, it might run a competition for the most ridiculous piece published by the Mail because I’m pretty sure I’d be the winner if it did.
Yesterday, the Mail Online published an article headlined ‘Should James Bond swap his Martinis for a nice cuppa? Tea acts as antidote for deadly terrorist poison ricin’...more
It is not often I start one of these entries with a warning, and then it is usually a warning that I’ve lost my patience with some ignorant prohibitionist, but today I feel I should begin by warning that further down the page are some images that you may find hard to view.
I’ve blogged, to the point of tedium, about the Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed, growing profusely in Edinburgh and, even as I did so, I wondered if I was over-stating the risks posed by this plant..more
I have to make a correction to what I wrote last Thursday. Actually, I think I need to make two corrections but I’ll come back to the second one.
After tweeting about my blog entry saying there was no Ragwort Awareness Week (RAW) this year, I received a tweet from the British Horse Society (BHS) saying that RAW is 23-29th July this year. At about the same time, my Google Alert for ‘ragwort’ took me to a couple of websites that had, clearly, received a press release from the BHS about RAW accompanied by some figures from the 2011 survey aimed at determining the extent of Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort...more
This is the fourth time, this season, that I’ve written about Heracleum mantegazzianum, giant hogweed, growing in Edinburgh. Each of those photo-blogs (17th May, 15th June and 27th June) has featured the same stretch of road as I wanted to chart the development of the plants and see if any control measures were taken.
On my most recent visit, I also took some pictures in other areas to give an idea of how widespread this unpleasant plant has become...more
This is Ragwort Awareness Week. Or, maybe, not.
I think something has happened at the British Horse Society (BHS). I don’t know if there has been a change of personnel or just a change of attitude but, judging from its website, the society seems to be taking a more sensible and pragmatic approach to the issue of Jacobaea vulgaris (syn. Senecio jacobaea), common ragwort...more
I’ve spent a week trying, and failing, to overcome my despair at what was said at the meeting of the Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) inquiry into drug policy on 3rd July. I’ve written about this inquiry a number of times. The most recent piece has links to all the previous items.
Happily, today, there were witnesses who helped me to feel a little more positive about this inquiry, though for reasons I’ll come to, it is only a little...more
Most people whose only contact with illegal psychoactive substances is reading about them in the press will tell you that drugs damage your brain. After several days trying to make sense of the numbers reported in the UNODC World Drugs Report (WDR) 2012, I can say that the completely befuddled state of my brain suggests most people are right.
When I wrote about World Drugs Day 26th june I said that, at first glance, the conclusions drawn about the opiate market looked odd but that I needed to do some more number-crunching before saying too much. Well, I’ve tried to work through the numbers but I’m not at all sure I’m in a better position I than I was from the first quick look I did last Thursday...more
Dr Monica Barrett tweeted a link to another article about the Silk Road website1 that I’ve written about before. Briefly, the Silk Road enables people to buy drugs (and other things) anonymously using Tor Networks and Bitcoins and public/private key encryption.
It reminded me of another site I saw a couple of weeks ago (sorry I can’t remember how I found it) that seemed to provide the opportunity to buy one type of illegal substance without all that bother...more