Saturday, 23 February 2013

Lies, cursed lies and government statistics

The only higher education course I've ever walked out of was Statistics. I hated it. One warm sunny afternoon (this was in Shetland where you have to appreciate every warm day you get) I bunked off class with a few others and played basketball. Our lecturer found us on court and gave us a furious lecture. I never completed that course.

I do like numbers though. Numbers have proved very useful over the years. Statistics... I've seen an awful lot of abuse caused by misusing statistics.

Take our UK Government's proposed bill to redefine marriage. The Government response contained several statistical lies. Ignoring the results of their own consultation which showed overwhelming opposition to redefining marriage the Government relied on independent polls to attempt to show public support for redefining marriage.

Polls do give an impression of public opinion but they are incredibly easy to manipulate. If you phrase a question slightly differently you may well get an opposing opinion. If you can get an opposing opinion: this implies the issue is far more complex than the result of a simple poll would suggest.

The reality is the Scottish public overwhelmingly support traditional marriage as shown by the results of an independent poll:

69% of Scots think that although death or divorce may prevent it the ideal situation for a child is to be raised by a married mother and father

How much higher is the support for a child to be raised by both biological parents?

71% of Scots don't believe that defending traditional marriage is discriminating against gays and lesbians

85% of Scots think it is possible to be tolerant of the rights of others and protective of traditional marriage

The Poll was conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB)
Fieldwork took place between 24 and 29 January 2012
of a statistically accurate sample of 1004 Scottish adults.

Thank you to Care for funding this research

The UK Government wants to force a radical change on society and is pushing the lie that the public overwhelmingly support this change.

Yet the public demonstrated their concern that any change to the status of marriage will have a detrimental effect on society during Westminster and Holyrood consultations:

Our recent UK Governments have ignored public opinion too many times in the last twelve years.

If you care about democracy in the UK then write to your MP (and if you live in Scotland your MSP) and please consider signing these petitions:

Coalition For Marriage

Scotland for Marriage.

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