Monday, 29 November 2021

Headline

“EIGHTY per cent of your waste can be recycled”, it says on the side of the lorry which has just emptied my bin. How do they know what kind of waste I have?

But, fair enough, I suppose, they are making a good point. Many statistics, though, I find infuriating. Forgive me while I rant for a moment.

“A survey in the second week in August shows that 32 per cent of British adults think climate change is the most important issue facing Britain, up from 16 per cent in July.” Hang on, what was the size of the survey or the demographic? What was on the news that morning? What did the rest of them think? What were they going to do about it? Were the same people asked?

“Vaccinations may have prevented between an estimated 102,500 and 109,500 deaths in England.” How on earth do they arrive at this number? Why the odd 500? Whose estimate? May? Does that imply may not?

“UK police discharged tasers 17,000 times in 2017/2018 and 32,000 times in 2019/2020.” So what? Are you trying to tell me that our citizens have become more unruly, or our police more trigger-happy? “Public opinion…” But no one has ever asked me — and, actually, I don’t agree.

Such statistics do concern me. The danger is that we base our judgment on a catchy soundbite rather than properly researched information.

I fear the same thing can often be true with issues of faith. That it is all too easy to latch on to news of an abuse or aberration — and we can be sure the media will be quick to focus on these — as legitimising our decision not to bother investigating all the evidence.

Do we know, for example, of the immense amount of relief and development work which churches do, at home and abroad? Or, perhaps more important, will we read the Gospels to discover who Jesus really was — and is — and will be?

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