Number of the Month

January  2009

Number Watch wishes a minimally disastrous year to all our readers. Meanwhile:

A loony new year

This time last year, we disposed of our refuse weekly in a modest plastic bag. Now, behind our little house we have this:

There are three bins and a crate. The total volume of these is at least fifteen times that of our previous plastic bag. For the green one (garden refuse) we have to pay extra and sign a multi-clause contract that basically asserts that we have no rights. There are now four different refuse trucks belching out the dreaded carbon dioxide, as well as real pollution. They all come at different times according to a schedule that makes the ecclesiastic calendars look like the times-two table.

Elderly and disabled people find it a total nightmare. They live in fear of getting a criminal record if they do it wrong. Little old ladies are trying to master shunting theory and going out in the dark and at sub-zero temperatures, hoping to get the right bin out on the right time of the right day. In preparation they are carefully washing out cans, bottles etc. hoping they will put them in the right bin before the snoopers come. This is now the Wiltshire Experience.

It is all compulsory religious observance and sacrifice. Just to rub in, we now find that the material is not being recycled at all.

The other manifestation of religious lunacy comes from the perennial source of stark staring madness, the out of control EU in Brussels. It is a remarkably consistent observation that madness in governments forces madness on the populace. Just as we once had to hoard T-bone steaks, now we have to hoard light bulbs. Lunacy is so prevalent in Brussels that they cannot even make their directives self-consistent. They ban mercury from vital devices such as medical sphygmomanometers, then force everyone to have that dreaded substance in their homes: not the harmless non-wetting liquid form that we oldies used to play with as children, but, during operation, the vapour. Naturally, they have made no provision for disposing of these inefficient and derided devices. The ultimate stupidity is that they take no cognisance of likely technical development. There are devices such as light diodes and electroluminescent panels waiting in the wings, but with these people it is the gesture that is all important. 

Memorandum to all good Englishmen and true (and as we do not speak PC on this site, man embraces woman). If you have not yet joined The Freedom Association, do so now. There are some real gems in the winter edition of their magazine, Freedom Today. Also, there will be a European election in June. You know your duty.


Well, there's a surprise! A state of emergency over gas, caused by Russia in the depths of winter. How could we not have foreseen it? Even Number Watch in a piece called Man of the decade had this to say:

Only Tony has seen that we can rely for energy on our staunch friends, the Arabs, and that kindly Mr Putin, so we do not have to think about controversial things such as nuclear power stations and can go on covering the countryside with windmills that only work 20% of the time, yet are such a wonderful and ever present monument to our new age of enlightenment.

Good news...

...for all those who took our careers advice 6 years ago. Town Councils are bankrupting thousands of people who cannot pay their Council Taxes. Bailiffs are being paid up to 600 pounds per hour, so that bill of a few hundred pounds escalates to tens of thousands. Quite right too! How are councils supposed to keep their highly paid chief executives and all the newly recruited environmental snoopers if people are going to withhold their proper contributions for this vital work. This is the job for you if you value real power. As a bailiff you now have the power to break into peoples homes. So much for all that rubbish about an Englishman's home being his castle.


Just another throe in the slow death of science

What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don't like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don't expect freedom to survive very long. – Thomas Sowell

At least the inventors of the second hand smoke scare took the trouble to arrange a sequence of statistical frauds on apparently real data to back up their theory. Now it is not considered necessary. Scientific research has largely been replaced by the sort of vox populi opinion poll that was once confined to the less intellectually demanding end of the women’s magazine market. Third hand smoke now exists as a scientifically proven danger because a “professor” has conducted an opinion poll. No evidence of old fashioned scientific research is considered necessary, not even one of those appalling meta-studies. Most “scientific” stories in the media are now based on results of opinion polls.

Post-modern research always comes up with a result that will meet the approval of the political establishment. That is just one of the symptoms of the mendacity that is now so endemic in the brave new world. It has become a standard technique to establish by means of a poll that few people realise that a danger exists and then use that result to implant the idea of the danger, for which there is almost always no actual evidence. This is what Number Watch has termed “Ignorance statistic”. Here is a quotation from The Epidemiologists:

Opinion polls, which made the fortunes of the likes of George Gallup, reveal many of the problems of statistical sampling that are independent of the rigorous mathematical structure on which they are based. The primary problem is that they involve people, who do not always tell the truth, even to themselves. We have a marked tendency towards self-deception about things for which we have been induced to feel guilty; such as consumption of food and drink or voting out of self rather than the general interest. For this reason real science is rightly suspicious about surveys that are based on self-reporting, which an unfortunately large proportion are. Another problem is that subtle differences in the selection techniques can affect the results, as is demonstrated by consistent trends for particular polls to favour different parties in election campaigns. Third is the well-known phenomenon that the very act of measurement affects the result. The fact that a question is posed at all has an effect on people’s thinking, while the framing and sequence of questions can predetermine the average person’s response. This was brilliantly and comically illustrated in a Yes Prime Minister script, in which Sir Humphrey Appleby persuaded his colleague to vote “yes” then “no” to the same question by placing it at the end of two different sequences of tendentious questions. Some countries ban the publishing of opinion polls before elections because they can influence the results.

The whole purpose of the original article and also of the coverage in the sympathetic media (which means virtually all of them) is to plant word associations in the minds of the populace, such as “toxic” with “third hand smoke”. That there is no experimental or even theoretical justification is deemed of no consequence. The point about zealots is that they never give up. Each victory drives them on to seek more.

There are penalties to be paid for this. For example, nobody bothers about researching the causes of ever increasing childhood asthma; because “every body knows” it is all down to tobacco smoke. Yet, children fifty years ago experienced more exposure to tobacco smoke in one visit to the cinema than modern children do in their whole lives. Childhood asthma was then almost unknown, but it has been increasing year on year ever since. It was not even dreamt in those days the tobacco smoke could regarded as an allergen, since Hay Fever was not uncommon, but there was no reason to associate it with tobacco smoke. The cinemas were not full of sneezing, wheezing children. For those who like to confuse correlation with causation, the increase in childhood asthma has followed the decrease in exposure to tobacco smoke. They will come to the obvious conclusion that the smoke is a prophylactic against asthma.

It is part of the tragedy of science that it was one of the few examples of excellence in epidemiological research (by Sir Austin Bradford Hill, in establishing the correlation between cigarette smoking and lung cancer) that provided the inchoate PC movement with an original sin and a cause to rally round. The banning of tobacco was the test and proof of their power. How ironic! The establishment of truth nurtured the corruption of truth.

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Footnote: A typically thorough and objective account of this scare is given by Our Sandy at

Red dots and all that

They ask the question “What is the red dot?” An equally interesting question is “Why is it red?


In a mad world of their own

EU chemophobia knows no bounds. It has already destroyed minor industries and severely hampered major ones by the reckless banning of elements and compounds with little consideration of the possible effects. Now from West Country MEP Neil Parish we have this announcement:

Strasbourg, 13th January 2009 – The European Parliament has voted to ban a large number of the plant protection products available to British producers, despite a concerted effort by Conservative MEPs to restore some balance and proportionality to the plans. 

West Country MEP, Neil Parish, the Chairman of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee has warned the parliament’s overzealous approach will take a vast number of products off the market. The ban will reduce yields of a number of foods including carrots, cereals, potatoes, onions and parsnips, whilst pushing up prices for consumers.

Conservative efforts to reject a deal agreed by the parliament and the council of ministers did not achieve the 393 votes required. Yesterday, a Conservative amendment calling for a full impact assessment on the plans was rejected by the parliament’s services. 

Now, the plans could only be stopped by a last-ditch effort by the British government, although over the last several months they have failed to back up their opposition with action.   

“This law will drive up the cost of the weekly food shop at the worst time for British families. 

“We do need strong restrictions on pesticide use but it should be based on sound science, rather than on the whim of politicians. There has been no balance whatsoever in the parliament’s position. MEPs have failed to see pesticides as necessary tools in maintaining our crops. 

“Many of the products on the market today are safe when used correctly, and have been around for years. Without crop protection products, our food supplies will be volatile at a time when food security is rising up the political agenda. 

“The Labour government has expressed concern about this directive, but it has failed to put the case nearly as strongly as it should have. 

“It is ludicrous that such a plan would be brought into law without an impact assessment to gauge its consequences. The only hope we have is for a last-ditch effort by the government to demand we finally get an overall picture of how food production will be affected across the EU.” 

Parish makes a good case but rather understates it. Yes there will be a process of attrition, which will greatly reduce the competitiveness of European farming and cause food shortages. The real worry, however, is the new risk of a serious explosion of one particular pest, as yet unidentifiable, that will sweep through the continent destroying all before it. The greens who dominate the EU have this dream of returning mankind to an imagined past paradise, but the world has changed. People are crowded into cities and depend on intensive, mechanised farming to feed them. A new strain of, say, influenza can move round the world in a matter of days; while some human diseases, once regarded as belonging to the past, such as TB, are making a comeback in resistant forms. So it is with plant pests and diseases.

The great Irish famine of the 1840s, a tragic event that did much to change world history, was precipitated by common potato blight (and worsened by bureaucratic inefficiency). Your bending author’s tomato crop was wiped out last year by the same disease. Amateur growers have already been seriously hampered by EU restrictions on chemicals, some of which have been used safely for years, and have been obliged to abandon some types of crop. The Colorado potato beetle caused panic in wartime and post-war Britain, even once being considered as a potential weapon.

Such practicalities do not cause concern in the rarefied atmosphere of Brussels. There is little consultation other than with blinkered green pressure groups. Science and its methods are regarded a passé. Such a process of wilful neglect, as we have seen in the financial world, must inevitably lead to a catastrophe. Those of us who warned about the foreseeable result of the activities of the debt pushers were ignored. We are now warning about another avoidable catastrophe and will no doubt be ignored again.

It is a strange world in which an imaginary threat such as the carbon scare can cause the wasteful expenditure of billions, yet in the face of real threats we simply throw down our weapons of defence, but that is Greenery for you.


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Zealots advancing on all fronts

The striking figure in Sandy’s analysis of the Third Hand Smoking myth is that within a week half a million stories appeared around the globe reporting as a scientific fact something that had simply been invented, without any attempt at producing scientific evidence: indeed, something that is contrary to the very laws of science. In a cooling world, despite huge amounts of contrary evidence, the imagined evils of carbon are propagated with ever increasing ferocity. The crescendo in the suppression-of-alcohol campaign continues unabated and as fast as junk statistics are debunked they are reinvented. The obesity brigade is as ruthless as any of them in fabricating stories with no scientific basis; frightening people into conformity.

Authoritarian socialism is on the rise throughout the west. It has total control in Brussels with only token democratic monitoring permitted. It is now taking over in the USA of all places. Who would have thought that Carol Browner, the arch corrupter of EPA science and associate of Socialist International would not only be back, but back with power over “climate” policy?

The tragic losers in all of this are science and human liberty. The Orwellian vision of total control over what we see, hear, eat and believe grows closer by the week. The rate of loss of freedom in the UK over recent years has been fearful. New “eco-crimes” are being invented continually and the people are forced to pay ever-increasing local taxes to fund a growing army of snoopers, a secret police with powers to confer a criminal record on non-conformists. The sound of the jackboot is heard in the land. No doubt America will follow.


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The man who was right

Sir Alan Walters

So much for consensus!


From mad to worse

A monster fearful and hideous, vast and eyeless.
Virgil, Aeneid

Christopher Booker reports yet another case of hapless toilers, who have had their livelihoods taken from them by bureaucratic theft, and then been turned into criminals for trying to carry on their forefathers’ trade of centuries. What they did was perfectly reasonable to an unbiased observer. They caught hake, which were plentiful, and sold them for food. Remarkably, in fact, it is not even a crime any more. They were forced by poverty into trying to disguise the fact that they were carrying out what has always been perfectly legitimate trade. And what about that judge? The judiciary sit on their large stipends and more than comfortable pensions, telling people on the breadline, who have had their livings taken by legitimised theft, that they are acting out of greed. And can it really be true that the fishermen themselves “were not permitted to speak in their own defence.” Is this what has become of British justice, to say nothing of natural justice?

It is a crime against nature and humanity to throw fresh fish back into the sea dead. The EU not only forces fishermen into this crime, but makes it a crime not to commit it. Many, including the man in charge of the policy, have called it immoral; barely an adequate word. It is not just a few fish, but tons. It must cut those fishermen to their very souls to betray the memories of their ancestors, who fought and died against the elements to scratch a living and feed their countrymen. Now their inheritance is being destroyed by cold-hearted officials who are motivated by nothing more than bureaucratic convenience and political infighting. Uniquely in the UK, however, each ill-considered directive from the EU is rigidly interpreted with total disregard for the human and economic consequences.

In Sorry, wrong number (2001) your bending author wrote that MAFF had been out of control for years. How did the politicians get over this? They changed its name to DEFRA; but the leopard does not change its spots. It was MAFF/DEFRA who launched the slaughter of the innocents, in which 8 million animals endured appalling and unnecessary death. DEFRA has a mission to destroy: if it can rely on the EU for weaponry, so much the better. French bureaucrats would never willingly take part in activities that would destroy their own industries, but to DEFRA that is what they were put on earth for.

On 11th December 2008 Neil Parish MEP reported:

Britain fined £74.5 million for Labour's incompetence
 Single Farm Payment delays result in massive fine

Brussels , 11th December 2008 -- The European Commission has fined Britain  £74.5million for the Single Farm Payments fiasco that caused misery to farmers across the country when it was introduced in 2005.
 The Rural Payments Agency was dogged by late payments and administrative error in 2005, when Britain failed to meet the EU's statutory deadline for getting subsidy cheques to farmers.
 Conservative chairman of the European Parliament's agriculture committee, Neil Parish MEP, said:
 "Once again our government's incompetence has caused British farmers and the British taxpayer to lose out.
 "When at Defra, Margaret Beckett introduced a hybrid system for making payments that everybody told her would lead to this calamity, yet she went ahead anyway. 
 "Beckett's legacy of blunders is still being felt in the countryside today, yet she still sits around the Cabinet table. That shows the level of contempt this government has for the countryside."

The sufferers we not only the farmers who were forced into bankruptcy, or even suicide, but many apparently unconnected victims. These bureaucrats do not have the competence or determination simply to pass on a subsidy, yet they have the persistence to pursue a tiny group of fishermen for six years. Their crime was to do what their forefathers have done without interference for centuries.

It was the Thatcher reforms that left the UK with all its eggs dangerously in one basket, the financial one. Those eggs have now hatched into chickens, which have come home to roost. The small remainder of manufacturing industry is now slowly being crushed by EU directives. Booker’s second example is the residual aluminium smelting business, which is in the process of being sacrificed to the global warming religion, as are so many others.

Meanwhile DEFRA has quietly bypassed our pusillanimous Parliament, giving itself the right to impose 100 pound bin taxes on religious grounds

The bureaucracy has become a juggernaut, rolling along supported by implacable authority, insouciance and incompetence, crushing any small individual or group who get in the way. Can there be any outcome other than economic and cultural disaster?


... and in contrast

Front page headline from the Daily Telegraph

Four in 10 serious criminals let off with a caution


Knife robberies and burglaries up



Zealots rampant

No drug, not even alcohol, causes the fundamental ills of society. If we're looking for the sources of our troubles, we shouldn't test people for drugs, we should test them for stupidity, ignorance, greed, and love of power.
 P. J. O'Rourke (1992)

At least the sub-editor on the print edition of the Daily Telegraph is on the ball with his headline:

Health police target evening tipple

The one on the online edition simply echoed the crap that is put out by the zealots who have seized control of the NHS and other state outlets.

There is no evidence, medical, scientific or any other kind to support the ludicrous “recommended limits”.

 They were simply made up by a committee, at least one member of which has admitted as much. Take it from one who spent many months in a medical library researching the matter for two books, these limits are close to the optimum for good health. The threshold for damage is at least three times higher.

It is a national disgrace that bodies like the NHS and the National Office of Statistics give a platform to these obsessive liars. Furthermore, the media should hide their heads in shame at failing to challenge such demonstrable falsehoods. They have formed a cosy relationship with those who generated scary headlines, abandoning their traditional duty to question and challenge for the comfort of easy stories.

It is in the nature of the modern zealot that he invents an imaginary boundary and then generates an infinite stream of press releases, based on the transgression of that boundary: alcohol, salt, carbon, calories etc. all get the same treatment. The fact that the boundary is completely meaningless gets lost in the welter of words.

As in most of these present day artificial catastrophes, almost the only opposition occurs on the internet. Commentators such as The Englishman fight a lonely battle to do what should be the job of the media, who are now so wrapped up in the blanket of the new establishment that they are little more than pamphleteers for that amorphous and all enveloping authoritarian  assemblage that has taken control of human life.

A second large gin and tonic is called for tonight.

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Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them.
T. S. Eliot, Burnt Norton, 1935

One of the hazards of this pontificating business is that innocently including one keyword can launch an avalanche of e-mail comment, overwhelming in both number and length. So it was with a modest little essay on global warming as religion, and it was of course the last word that precipitated the inundation. Sentences were parsed into dissolution. Clauses were analysed into confusion. Words, slippery things at the best of times, faded into the mists of incomprehension.  If the suggestions for alteration had been followed, the essay would not only be authored by committee, but it would change on a daily basis. Every nuance of faith, from catholic fundamentalist to atheist, seems to have a view on what should be written.

Even if a bending author were willing to submit to such direction, the burden of effort would be insupportable. The one consolation is that, if one is wrong in a number of ways, one is also wrong in a number of equal and opposite ways.

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By Sir Hugh Jerrors, Professor of Modelling Those Little Fluffy Bits Round The Edges Of Clouds at the Metropolitan University of Nether Wallop

What splendid news that President Obama is to give $140,000,000 to the climate modelling industry. That a man who has shown such wisdom throughout his presidency should recognise the importance of this vital economic activity must be a blow to the two or three remaining denialists, who are able to make so much noise thanks to heavy funding from the fossil fuel industry.

Climate modelling has provided employment to hundreds of highly-skilled workers. They, in turn, by their purchasing power provide stimulus to strained local economies in areas such as East Anglia . Also, they will inspire a new stream of university graduates, all highly skilled additions to the new industrial scene, thereby reducing unemployment. They will certainly deserve the large bonuses that are no doubt in the offing. Doubters might think the move is unnecessary, as we all know what the outcome of the modelling will be, but it is not just enough to know that catastrophe is on the way unless we dismantle most of our existing industries. The extent of the catastrophe has to be known to greater and greater precision. As humankind advances towards a new dawn of zero-energy economics, it is the modellers who are in the van.

Climate modelling is the ideal industry for the modern world. Admittedly, its super-computers are responsible for certain carbon emissions, but these are easily offset by purchasing credits from Mr Gore. It is an industry that creates no waste, noise or even products, to sully our planet, which it is destined to save. It does not clog up the transport systems with the unpleasant consequences of trade. It is clean, green and inoffensive.

Let us hope that other nations, and particularly the UK , will seek to emulate the foresight of the American taxpayers, who have willingly made this generous investment in the future. How grateful their grandchildren will be, when they are able to see the outputs of the models during climate change lessons!

This is the start of a brave new world, in which national economies are decoupled from the sordid activities of manufacture and trade. Let us go forward, hand in hand, towards that Promised Land.

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This year is the bicentenary of Charles Darwin (as if you hadn’t heard). No doubt we shall hear more than we wished to know of all those little details of his private life that the media so thrive upon. Nevertheless, he is an important figure in the history of science, for his remarkably productive life as well as his reluctant involvement as a defendant in the war on science. It is the same all these years later, except it is the religion that is new and the science that is old. The weapons, however, are very much the same – ridicule, hatred, bullying, media monopolisation, censorship etc.

He did not have to go cap in hand to government bureaucrats for funding or facilities, or fill in a Gantt chart to state his exact expected achievement points in a project limited strictly to three years. He did not have the publish-or-perish axe hanging over him. He was able to spend half a lifetime mulling over his hypothesis of evolution before launching it (admittedly under the threat of competition).

His life’s work was a triumph, but then he was one of the privileged. Fifty years ago it had all changed and anyone with the academic ability and the energy had the opportunity to rise to the top in science. Now it has all come full circle and again only the privileged have entry. The continuous political interference in state education has reduced it to a low level that is wasting talent, quite deliberately in some cases where bright pupils are intentionally being held back by politicised teachers. What mute inglorious Newton rests in that churchyard in Stoke Poges ?

When you compare Darwin ’s lifetime of meticulous observation and inspired reasoning with what passes for science today, the contrast is startling. Nowadays, as often as not, what are reported as research findings are just anecdotal surveys of popular opinion, from which unwarrantable politically-correct conclusion are drawn. Darwin ’s hypothesis (as that of Gregor Mendel) has been gloriously vindicated by subsequent developments, such as molecular biology. Once perhaps the most publicly ridiculed figure in the history of science, he stands now at the pinnacle, an inspiration to those few who still adhere to the principle of pure apolitical science.

In his honour we have:

Number of the month – 200

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Footnote: for those puzzled by the intrusion of Stoke Poges , it is the location for Gray’s Elegy in a Country Churchyard.



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