Thursday, 23 July 2009

Scientific spin?

It is worth noting the website Reclaim Your DNA, just in case you need to.

Dr Ben Goldacre's blog Bad Science reports on the Home Office DNA database consultation. He states:

An appendix to the consultation paper from the Jill Dando Institute is possibly the most unclear and badly presented piece of research I have ever seen in a professional environment. Using this 'research' the Home Office defends the database by arguing that: innocent people who have been arrested are as likely to commit crimes in the future as guilty people. “This”, they say, “is obviously a controversial assertion”.

Dr Goldacre says that logically this is not true: it’s a simple matter of fact, and you could easily assemble some good quality evidence to see if it’s true or not. He continues:

This research was incomprehensible and unreadable. Anybody who claims to have been persuaded by the data quoted here is telling you, loudly and clearly in the subtitles, that they don’t need to understand a piece of research in order to find it compelling. Such people are not to be trusted, and if research of this calibre is what guides our policy on huge intrusions into the personal privacy of millions of innocent people, then they might as well be channeling spirits.

It's just a pity that this happens so often these days and that, at over 100 pages, only the most dedicated would trawl through the document. There's still time to tell the Home Office your views. See here.

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