Statistics, Turkey, Europe, Particle Physics, Iraq

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A Guide To Spotting Dodgy Statistics

David Spiegelhalter | Guardian | 17th July 2016

“Next time you hear a politician boasting that unemployment has dropped by 30,000 over the previous quarter, just remember that this is an estimate based on a survey. And that estimate has a margin of error of +/- 80,000, meaning that unemployment may well have gone down, but it may have gone up – the best we can say is that it hasn’t changed very much, but that hardly makes a speech. And to be fair, the politician probably has no idea that this is an estimate and not a head count” (1,600 words)

Erdogan’s Pyrrhic Victory

Hugh Pope & Nigar Göksel | Politico | 17th July 2016

“Paradoxes have always abounded in the relationship between the Turkish military and the country’s politicians. On Friday night, the Turkish Armed Forces said, in effect, that the military was breaking the law in order to restore the rule of law. In response, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on the Turkish people to take to the street in defense of the democracy he has done so much to undermine with attacks on the media and assaults on constitutional checks and balance” (1,400 words)

How Brexit Is Changing The European Union

Charles Grant | Centre For European Reform | 15th July 2016

Britain’s Brexit vote is “a momentous event” which changes the trajectory of the European Union. “From now on the dominant narrative will be one of disintegration not integration.” Other countries will not leave, but they will give no more powers to the EU institutions. Across Europe, pro-EU politicians are on the defensive. “Obsessed with the idea of instant and total integration, we failed to notice that ordinary people, the citizens of Europe, do not share our Euro-enthusiasm” (1,300 words)

When (Quantum) Worlds Collide

Matthew Buckley | Boston Review | 12th July 2016

How the Large Hadron Collider works. “The main ring of the LHC is a tunnel 27 kilometers in circumference, buried 300 feet under Geneva. Inside this tunnel there is a sealed enclosure, about 6 centimeters across, which is kept at a vacuum similar to that of deep space (10 percent of the moon’s atmospheric pressure). Inside this near-vacuum, protons are circulated in two beam pipes. Each beam travels at 99.999999 percent of the speed of light, one clockwise, one counterclockwise” (6,500 words)

A Grand And Disastrous Deceit

Philippe Sands | London Review Of Books | 17th July 2016

A lawyer reviews the Chilcot Report on Britain’s war in Iraq. “The inquiry finds that the necessary information was available to the decision-makers if they had wanted to see it: on Iraq’s WMD capability, on the consequences of the war, on the mayhem that would follow. Yet the inquiry has chosen to hold back on what caused the multitude of errors: was it negligence, or recklessness, or something else? It has created a space for Blair and others to protest that they acted in good faith” (3,700 words)

Video of the day: Zhangjiajie Wulingyuan

What to expect:

Breathtaking aerial views of mountainous landscape in China’s Hunan Province (3’40”)

Thought for the day

The difficult part in an argument is not to defend one’s opinion, but to know it
André Maurois

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