It’s bows and arrows against the lightning—
They ‘aven’t seen that fire-beam yet…
Herbert George Wells, War of the Worlds
In the Telegraph today, Douglas Carswell writes:
“For years, the debate about immigration has been dominated by “experts”.
“Complex and inaccessible data was used by remote academics. They crunched the numbers and were left to draw the conclusions. The rest of us had to take it on trust that the facts sustained what they told us.”
The Guardian’s Mary Dejevsky agrees somewhat and tells us [the] immigration debate is not just about numbers … We have to consider people’s daily experience too:
“[The] Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration at University College London, found arrivals from the European economic area (EEA) since 1995 to have been even more of an asset to the UK economy than previously thought. They had, it calculated, contributed £8.8bn over the 15 years between 1995 and 2011, and if you considered only the past 10 years, the balance was even more positive.”
However Steve Doughty from The Daily Mail, read the same report and interpreted it slightly differently, claiming that :
“Immigrants from outside Europe have taken £100billion more in benefits and services than they paid back in taxes, a major study revealed yesterday.
“Over a 16-year period, the bill to the taxpayer of providing them with welfare, health and education was 14 per cent higher than the money they put in the national purse.”
This is a problem— when our source material is provided by unimpeachable sources but the conclusions drawn from it are wildly disparate, I’m afraid either the nature of the data or the conclusions must be rendered as lacking validity. At least in a usable, practicable way. Studies ought to inform, not divide in such a binary manner.
This is not a new problem. In an article in Scientific American, Patternicity: Finding Meaningful Patterns in Meaningless Noise, Michael Shermer writes about the mechanisms that allow us to see such differences; it also alows us to see bunny rabbits in fluffy clouds— the same mechanism which results in ‘complex and inaccessible data’ being summarised and presented as fact, while ignoring that:
“Unfortunately, we did not evolve a Baloney Detection Network in the brain to distinguish between true and false patterns.”
It is describing a form of apophenia: the ability we have to see what we want to see; or more simply, the ability to make sense when there is none. In fact, the irony is, I too could be doing just that, but I’ll be describing how I perceive the opinion process in another post, I just wanted to get the Baloney Detection Network out there because I love it, just as much as Hemmingway’s bullshit detector. It’s more or less the same thing.
Anyway, no amount of numbers can alter the fact that immigration is simply someone moving from one place to another. So I ask you, simply…
Why not just employ nightclub doormen as immigration officials?
Have you ever tried getting into a club if your name wasn’t on the list?
It’s just a thought…