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MarcoPolo

If you repeat a lie often enough

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But if you scroll down you will see the article has met with almost universal execration from readers. You wouldn'tn have seen that two years ago. It really does look as if we are starting to win the argument.

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I'm appalled that the Guardian subs let the article through with such a comprehensively discredited and misleading key stat. The online replies correcting it must be really embarrassing for them, because it makes them look as big idiots as the columnist herself.

What's the point of having subs if not to stop this sort of rubbish?

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I'm appalled that the Guardian subs let the article through with such a comprehensively discredited and misleading key stat. The online replies correcting it must be really embarrassing for them, because it makes them look as big idiots as the columnist herself.

What's the point of having subs if not to stop this sort of rubbish?

Well if you have a new book and is title is Enslaved, what better place

for the author to attempt to get her arguement(s) across :o

Rahila Gupta's most recent book is Enslaved, The New British Slavery

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The above the line commentators are allowed to keep repeating these false statistics because it fits in with The Guardian's editorial line.

Recently, there was a piece by Jessica Reed, which referenced a Liliith Project report, on rape statistics, that alleged a link between the number of lap dancing clubs & a huge increase in the number of rapes in a London borough (I think it was Hackney). This was allowed through by the editors, even though this very report had been the subject of a Guardian correction; to the effect that the data was flawed & unreliable.

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I'm appalled that the Guardian subs let the article through with such a comprehensively discredited and misleading key stat. The online replies correcting it must be really embarrassing for them, because it makes them look as big idiots as the columnist herself.

What's the point of having subs if not to stop this sort of rubbish?

Well if you have a new book and is title is Enslaved, what better place

for the author to attempt to get her arguement(s) across :o

Rahila Gupta's most recent book is Enslaved, The New British Slavery

Well I hope the subs get a backhander from the royalties, for turning a blind eye while the harpy promotes her bile.

Seriously though the Guardian may have a party line on this but if that line massively misleads their readers factually they have failed as a proper newspaper and are no better than the comics like the Mail and the Sun

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Well I hope the subs get a backhander from the royalties, for turning a blind eye while the harpy promotes her bile.

A question for HMRC: if a newspaper allows an author a free advert for her book, should it be a taxable benefit in kind?

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I'm appalled that the Guardian subs let the article through with such a comprehensively discredited and misleading key stat. The online replies correcting it must be really embarrassing for them, because it makes them look as big idiots as the columnist herself.

What's the point of having subs if not to stop this sort of rubbish?

it doesn't surprise me

I have worked at the Guardian, and the subs there are mostly useless

underpaid, undervalued, it is still a newspaper driven by ideology

why let mere detail get in the way?

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.....I have worked at the Guardian, and the subs there are mostly useless.........underpaid, undervalued

Droll, eh, for a paper that is so, so, socially concerned....

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ive posted on the guardian,the article should have been published on april 1 as its a joke!

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Academic Belinda Brookes-Gordon has written a cogent and authoritative piece refuting Gupta's drivel:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/apr/03/prostitution-humantrafficking

Rahila Gupta is a leading light of Southall Black Sisters, a longstanding group that campaigns on violence against women and which is cited by Eaves as benefiting from its work (page 2, pdf). Gupta is not a neutral commentator, but belongs to a coalition of campaigners with a particular agenda on trafficking and prostitution.

...In this respect her article and position becomes clearer and makes some 'sense'.

I don't think the aforesaid was mentioned in Gupta's article - if I have remembered correctly.

Since it would have placed it at least in a 'context'.

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Excellent. I liked her remark, "When looking for a needle in haystack, it doesn't make sense to keep making the haystack bigger." Or, one might add, redefining every stalk of hay as a needle.

She's very good! See also her demolition of Jacqui Smith's ill-conceived and ill-considered proposals:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/oct/16/law-jacquismith

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it doesn't surprise me

I have worked at the Guardian, and the subs there are mostly useless

underpaid, undervalued, it is still a newspaper driven by ideology

why let mere detail get in the way?

Surely if someone is useless at their job then being undervalued and underpaid is a good thing, why reward incompetence?

Do people believe whats in the newspapers?

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Surely if someone is useless at their job then being undervalued and underpaid is a good thing, why reward incompetence?

It's a cycle, though: you pay peanuts and get monkeys.

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Of course you pay a fortune and you get Chuck Prince, Sir Fred Goodwin, Stanley O'Neil, Richard Madoff, Bob Diamond, get my drift..

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You've got to go a long way down this, though the Turin Shroud and its doubtful provenance but, at the bottom, you find that the researcher who first suggested that there were 80000 wgs in the UK has been writing to a Times columnist to say that she doesn't believe the number either....

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/david_aaronovitch/article6047121.ece

Well done Wanderlust on finding this ;) :

But I discover we do have room for the sex industry, so let's throw that in too. A month ago I asked readers for examples of bogus statistics and numbers that had somehow become viral. I have to admit that this issue of bad stats has become something of an obsession for me, not least because we seem to be having entire debates and advocating important policies on the basis of poor research.

Anyway, one of my respondents was Hilary Kinnell, a well-respected author and researcher in the field of prostitution and sex work. Ms Kinnell pointed out that the Home Office routinely uses the figure of 80,000 for the estimated number of prostitutes in the UK. It did so again last November in its latest review document, Tackling the Demand for Prostitution.

She knew, she told me, where the 80,000 had come from, and how reliable it was. It had come from her and was completely unreliable! A decade ago, working in the impoverished voluntary sector, she had tried to make the calculation by asking about a third of the local organisations on her mailing list to estimate the number of prostitutes in their area. Under half replied. The average of those that did was 665 sex workers, so Ms Kinnell multiplied by 120, producing a figure of 79,800.

“This method was extremely crude,” wrote Ms Kinnell and was likely to be an overestimate. “Despite this,” she added, “the figure of 80,000 is constantly cited as a fact, without any qualification, often in the context of claims that the sex industry has expanded rapidly over the past ten years, often applied only to women and sometimes only to street sex workers.”

The thing that goes through my inquisitive mind, - if the story is true- Why is she owning up to her error now??

Reminds me of the Smoking gun and 45 secs all proving to be incorrect...

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.....The thing that goes through my inquisitive mind, - if the story is true- Why is she owning up to her error now??......

To be fair to Ms Kinnell I think you'll find that she has been criticising the use of her 10-year-old figures ever since they have been used to promote the current campaign. She has explained before that they have been used out of the context in which she arrived at them 10 years ago when she was working for an organisation providing health services to sex workers.

At that time she contacted 29 projects that provided services for sex workers to ask how many prostitutes they were working with. She had 17 responses. The average number of prostitutes per project was 665. She then multiplied that figure by 120, the total number of projects on her mailing list, to get an estimation of the total number of prostitutes. Hence 80,000.

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To be fair to Ms Kinnell I think you’ll find that she has been criticising the use of her 10-year-old figures ever since they have been used to promote the current campaign. She has explained before that they have been used out of the context in which she arrived at them 10 years ago when she was working for an organisation providing health services to sex workers.

At that time she contacted 29 projects that provided services for sex workers to ask how many prostitutes they were working with. She had 17 responses. The average number of prostitutes per project was 665. She then multiplied that figure by 120, the total number of projects on her mailing list, to get an estimation of the total number of prostitutes. Hence 80,000.

Thank you Calynx for that!

So do you think it was a bit of an 'exaggeration' when the journalist wrote, she contacted him personally with regard to his question about statistics??

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Thank you Calynx for that!

So do you think it was a bit of an 'exaggeration' when the journalist wrote, she contacted him personally with regard to his question about statistics??

Given that she has spoken openly (or, at least, been quoted openly) about her research figures over the last 4 or 5 months, the answer is "yes".

My words are a summary of something she said to the BBC back in, I think, January. I kept the data (sad, I know!) but can't find the reference.

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In case you missed it -from Belinda Brooks Gordon's article:

and several colleagues (including Kinnell) across three universities have just carried out a replication of the Europap study using the same methods and multipliers derived from original study to provide various updated estimates of the wider population of sex workers. We, however, point out the limits of our estimates and the methodological difficulties of estimating the size of this hidden population. While I can't divulge the findings yet, as it would compromise the originality of the academic article, we will announce them as soon as the academic paper is published.

but, I myself wouldn't be surprised if the real figure was in the region of

80,000 or so indoor only

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It's an occupational hazard of research that someone takes your old data -even something that you honestly presented as a rough estimate, couched with caveats- and then uses it as if it were perfect and absolute.

That seems to be what has happened to Ms Kinnell, hence her protests to journo's.

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To be fair to Ms Kinnell I think you'll find that she has been criticising the use of her 10-year-old figures ever since they have been used to promote the current campaign. She has explained before that they have been used out of the context in which she arrived at them 10 years ago when she was working for an organisation providing health services to sex workers.

At that time she contacted 29 projects that provided services for sex workers to ask how many prostitutes they were working with. She had 17 responses. The average number of prostitutes per project was 665. She then multiplied that figure by 120, the total number of projects on her mailing list, to get an estimation of the total number of prostitutes. Hence 80,000.

Hillary Kinnell has been protesting at the misuse of her, very,rough estimate since at least 2003, when it was used presented as an being a definitive estimate the number of street workers (female only) in "Paying the Price".

Not only was she critical of the way the Government ignored her own highlighting of the shortcomings of this estimate, but also of the fact that she made it clear, in her original research, that this was a figure for all sex workers, regardless of their sex, not just women.

Additionally, Kinnell, through her work with UKNSWP, has been amongst the strongest critics of both the prostitution clauses of the Policing & Crime Bill & of the (near lack of credible) research upon which they are based.

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