Monday, 19 May 2008

I was listening to 'MoreOrLess' on the radio today...

'There are lies, damn lies and statistics' was how the programme started and it went on to focus on the work of Nassim Taleb the author of 'The Black Swan' and 'Fooled by Randomness'. In his books, Nassim argues that most of the time when we look at the sheer volume of information we are wading through we need to be careful that our explanations are not bogus. Because many times we construct a theory and then search to find the evidence to support the theory and unsurprisingly the more information we have the more likely it is that we can find statistically significant relationships... it is worrying to think that the more information we have the more we we are in danger of contaminating the truth. You can always find statistics to support the inference but it doesn't mean that it is true.

Interestingly today I also heard that Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools, has published proposals to change the OFSTED inspection framework for schools. 'Weak' schools will be inspected annually while the 'best' schools will be inspected every six years. I thought we had established that you don't improve the pig by weighing it but Christine and her colleagues at OFSTED seem to think that inspecting schools makes them better. Personally, I don't believe it.


Anonymous said...

I get so frustrated at the garbage that is put out from government spokespeople as fantastic new ideas, progress, bold initiatives, blah, blah, blah, especially when it relates to children. (Let them play with other issues if they must but children really are our future, and they learn from what they see us doing more than what we tell them to do!) I know from many conversations that I am not the only one that feels this way. I may not agree with you all your ideas (difference is good) but it gives me hope that a man in your position has not lost the plot. I wish more politicians remembered what their job should be about rather than spending so much time on presentation and spin.

Chris'Blog said...

There are so many people out there measuring, weighing, checking, monitoring and inspecting that you sometimes wonder whether anyone is actually left to do the real work. I would love to know how many of them there are and what they cost us all.My question would be what could we really do if everyone rolled up their sleeves and helped us tackle the issues we are wrestling with on a daily basis.