...in Michael Blastland's BBC magazine article 'How one woman can cause economic boom or bust'.
Blastland describes a hypothetical worker whose redundancy leads to a 0.1% rise in unemployment figures. The media, ignoring such boring matters as standard deviation and margins of error, jump on the figures and produce headlines that trigger financial panic and crisis.
Blastland argues that even increasing the raw data by a small fraction may lead, via rounding off, scaling up or standardisation, to a significant difference in the end result - something the more responsible climate change scientists have been trying to convey to the media for years. Like food, if data is processed, it usually needs seasoning with a pinch of salt*.
His final caveat - 'Economic data is never a set of facts; it is a set of clues, some of which are the red herrings of unavoidable measurement error' - is a salutory reminder that in the run-up to the election we will be bombarded with facts and figures, all purporting to tell a story.
One wonders how many of the electorate will know or care that the story in question may well be total fiction?
* Although Consensus Action on Salt and Health (H/T Ambush Predator) might have something to say about that.
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