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To Ponder Whether The Guardian Understands Its Own Charts

That The Guardian is often more interested in advancing the narrative rather than explaining the truth is obvious. But they don’t quite always manage to ignore their own evidence in their own articles. Today they have on the subject of deaths in and just after police custody. The numbers are up and this is blamed upon austerity in provision for mental health services. Which could, obviously, be true. Except they then present evidence which rather contradicts that narrative. We’d rather hope that such pesky facts at least get explained away but that’s not how narratives are constructed, is it?

Police custody deaths have hit their highest level in a decade with police, campaigners and experts warning that austerity and a crisis in mental health services have driven the figure up.

See? It’s all Tory Austerity. Yet it’s that “in a decade” which should give pause, no? But when was a decade ago? That would be 2007-08, before this Tory Austerity, wouldn’t it? So it’s not entirely obvious that a number the same before and after austerity is down to austerity, is it?

There’s also the slightly uncomfortable for the narrative fact that mental health budgets have been rising quite strongly this past couple of years.

The actual likely explanation here is random variance in a very small number. That being the sort of thing which happens with such statistics anyway. But if austerity fits the narrative why not use it? Given that fostering the narrative is the purpose of The Guardian, rather than trying to explain the world to us of course.

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5 years ago

After Dr. Thomas Szasz: The brain may become diseased. The mind cannot be diseased. The mind is a method of organizing reality. It may be a social problem, but it is not a disease, that someone’s mind organizes reality in a way that encourages misconduct. Most minds, even those of criminals, work quite well at determining what misbehavior the individual can get away with. I think the biggest variable in the level of misconduct is the degree to which government is resolute about redressing misconduct. Forces, such as those behind this article, whose view on misconduct or “mental health” is… Read more »

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