Monday, February 19, 2007

Bullshit, complete bullshit and statistics

Nick writes:

"No reasonable person can deny [some piece of Decent catechism or other - bb]. If an unreasonable person wishes to do so, let them go back through the Guardian, Independent, Today Programme and Channel 4 News archives and count the column inches and air minutes devoted to Guantanamo Bay where no one has been murdered and compare them to the space given to Darfur where a genocide is taking place."

well I'm an unreasonable person, so let's check ...

Guantanamo, 1229 mentions

Darfur, 946 mentions

On the other hand, note that the civil war in Darfur only began in 2003, and the massacres only began in 2004. Guantanamo, however, has been open since 2001, and many of the mentions in the Guardian will have been early on during the period when there were British prisoners there. So let's look at the time structure, shall we?

Since 2003: 946 mentions of Darfur, 922 mentions of Guantanamo
Since 2004: 943 mentions of Darfur, 556 mentions of Guantanamo
Since 2005: 580 mentions of Darfur, 283 mentions of Guantanamo
Since 2006: 351 mentions of Darfur, 175 mentions of Guantanamo
2007 to date: 47 mentions of Darfur, 14 mentions of Guantanamo

I am not bothering to check the Independent and Channel 4 News, but I have no reason to believe they will be any different (Channel 4 might have a few more Guantanamos in 2006 as they may have plugged Michael Winterbottom's film but this hardly counts).

While we're on the subject:

If you still doubt me, think back to the arguments you heard at every liberal dinner party you’ve been to in the past four years and ask yourself if concern for Iraqi democrats ever featured in the conversation.
Done it?
I’m right, aren’t I?

No, Nick, you're wrong.


Blogger ejh said...

As bears repeating any number of times, Guantánamo Bay (unlike Darfur) is being carried out with the support of the government of whose country I am a citizen. I think that gives me a responsibility to say something about it. What the Decents call being anti-American, I would have thought was a consequence of one's civic and democratic duties: you should put the outrages committed in your name first.

2/19/2007 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

What is a "liberal dinner party"? Does it need an embalmed Roy Jenkins in the corner, or is it something to do with the food?

I find this dinner-party focus group stuff that Cohen loves to indulge in rather odd. I'm not sure I've ever been to a "dinner party" as imagined by Cohen, but when I've had dinner around friend's houses I've never next morning taken much that was said the previous evening as indicative of anything, except perhaps 'hasn't red wine got strong these days'.

I'm sure it's much the same for Nick's friends. When, for instance, last September, they woke up next morning after a dinner party Nick had been to and 'silenced' them all with the information that Afar Nafisi had 'dedicated her book to Paul Wolfowitz', I suspect that didn't even bother to check their copies, and just put it down to the lateness of the evening. Nick on the other hand decided to write about it in the Observer.

2/19/2007 04:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Nick think that those dinner party skits in Rory Bremner are some kind of documentary? Or are they Nick's equivalent of the proverbial taxi driver?

Nick seems to have got worse since the book came out (which what any observer/Observer of his political journey could have predicted).

2/19/2007 05:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, well counting mentions is one thing, but have you counted the column inches and the air-minutes, as we can be sure Nick has done with his truster ruler and stopwatch?

By the way, where did he write this? Is it from the "book"?

2/19/2007 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

It's another exercise in the bleedin' obvious, but another reason why people might mention Guantánamo more than Darfur is that there is general agreement that the latter is a bad thing. This is not the case with the camps in Cuba which are regularly defended by people who ought to know better. So people have to keep mentioning them, demonstrating against them, arguing about them, don't they?

2/19/2007 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

for what it's worth, has 14 mentions of Darfur and 12 of Guantanamo (annoyingly, Nick isn't one of the "writers" that you can filter for in the Guardian blog search). Since has been up and running since 2005, Nick has actually been proportionately more obsessed with Guantanamo and less concerned about Darfur than the median for the Guardian. Darfur is also on the "heat map" for hot topics on Comment is Free while Guantanamo isn't.

2/19/2007 06:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is not the case with the camps in Cuba which are regularly defended by people who ought to know better.

Then there's the people who claim to oppose Guantanamo but get a whole lot more exercised over comparisons between Guantanamo and the Soviet Gulag, ie everyone who put their name to the Euston Manifesto.

2/19/2007 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Sonic said...

It's always Iraqi Democrats this and Iraqi Democrats that.

Does no-one care about Iraqi Republicans?

(I'll get my coat)

2/19/2007 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

the brand "Republican" went a bit out of fashion after its use between "elite" and "Guard" in the Saddam era.

2/19/2007 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

During the opening days of the Iraq war I really did overhear an elderly Jamaican man on the tube saying to his friend: "I really cannot understand this Iraq business. There's the Republican Guard and the Republican Party. If they are both Republicans, why are they fighting?"

2/20/2007 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

A friend of mine has a mother who grew up in Bethnal Green and used to frequent some of the pubs where the Krays and their rivals drank, argued and planned attacks on one another. She swears that her mother was once heard to say:

"I don't know, why can't they just learn to share?"

2/20/2007 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who the fuck is this nick dude you're on about. He sounds like a fucking fool and i wonder why you waste your time detailing his stupidity

2/21/2007 07:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

btw (several weeks late, but for the archives), The Independent has featured the Darfur crisis on its front page really quite a lot, much more than Guantanamo. Furthermore, the line it is taking is pretty much the Decent "the world stands by while genocide is taking place" one. You'd think Nick would be pleased.

4/01/2007 02:04:00 AM  

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