Sunday, July 15, 2012

2 + 2 = 1 - The bigger the lie...

The title makes no sense does it? Of course 2 + 2 doesn't equal 1 unless of course you happen to be a treasury bean counter, or in this case a TB statistician within Defra.

Over the past months, we have noticed that many articles, all culled from Defra press releases, refer with shock and horror to '25,000 cattle slaughtered in 2011'. Leaving aside the hiccoughs with Defra's new toy, a computer called SAM, who found it difficult to add up and abandoned its monthly stats mid way through the year, the final tally was not 25,000. Or not if you were wanting a figure comparable with previously quoted figures. The oft mis-quoted 25,000 or 26,394 to be precise, is the figure for England. But Defra always collated their figures for 'GB', not its devolved parts. Unless of course this dumbing down was deliberate act. Surely not?

For the pedants among you, the total cattle casualties for GB which SAM has coughed up for 2011 are 34,505, including 7971 for Wales and 140 for TB free Scotland.

 But far worse are Defra's statistician's mathematical gymnastics when collating  'other species' deaths from TB, or slaughterings in the course of a Defra inspired cull. We have highlighted this many times and originally had not a little fun, printing off the most ingenious reasons which Defra gave for not making 2 + 2 = 4. This post describes a list of exclusions, which at one point, was longer than the table itself.

Nothing changes, and we now learn of another ruse to dumb down the 'other species' figures.

If trace animals prove positive on another holding, or in another group; or if they are not traced but merely die from TB but have originated in another herd, the stats 'tether' them to the index outbreak. Thus, the 398 animals slaughtered in the Sussex alpaca TB breakdown would which we told you about in this posting,, would appear on the Defra tables as the single (or a couple if we're being generous) microbial sample, confirming bTB. But moving on, the four herds traced (so far) which bought animals from this source and were found to be infected, remain on Defra's unique abacus as 1 outbreak.
"Je größer die Lüge, desto mehr Menschen es glauben werden."
Paraphrased from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf in 1925, (but attributed also to Joseph Goebbels) the point of any political party's speeches is to persuade people of what they think right. ... misquoted or paraphrased the above phrase translates as: "The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed."

And this is how we come to have press releases and statements from Defra, indicating '25,000 cattle slaughtered last year' (but forgetting to say that they are only from a devolved part of the previously quoted total GB figures) and a very small handful of bTB outbreaks in alpacas, which of course, are no problem at all. Except to the many hundreds which are dead.

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