Making causal relationships that just aren't there

Reading through some of the pointless Early Day Motions (sad but true) I came across part of a sentence which whilst the subject was deadly serious, made me have a wry smile. In politics people like to use statistics to prove there point. Then you get some people who say that because one thing happens when another does the two must be linked. You know… like if Chelsea win when Lampard plays and there was a full moon the week before, that this is law as we have seen this happen more than once, and you cannot dispute this as fact.

Today in EDM 1980 it reads that…. “a total of 223 people died in fires where a smoke alarm was present and 130 people lost their lives in fires where a smoke was absent in 2008, the latest year for which there a re figures”….

So from this we can all conclude that we should sleep much easier in our beds and take those smoke alarms off.. after all, that’s what the statistics show… we  are just safer without the. OR actually that is complete nonsense, just like some of the other causal relationships people come up with.


What's the point of the Winter Fuel Allowance?

What is the point of the Winter fuel allowance. By that I do not mean it is pointless – but I’m asking what is the purpose of it. My take is that it is to ensure people don’t freeze to death in their homes over Winter. But that isn’t how it works. It is given out to people who may not use any fuel in Winter (they could be abroad) who may put it in their pot to spend on anything, or maybe just put it against their overall fuel bill.

Sorry – but that isn’t very targeted and isn’t doing what I think (though someone can happily tell me what the purpose is) the fuel allowance is meant to do.

If you want to target it to be spent on fuel, why not give it in a way so that it HAS to be spent on fuel and has to be spent in Winter. Some will say its too hard to administer. Not really. Get the energy companies to do so, as surely they would rather it was spend on their products in Winter (the purpose of the allowance) than on cheap flights to sunny shores.

Zetters Political Companion

Architect showing outrageous lack of business sense

Many will know we have bought our little place in the country and want to turn the little bungalow into a place we will never leave. To that end we have asked an architect to look at some previous plans already approved (but planning permission lapsed) and to draw up new ones so we can do a bit of building work.

We received an email with regards the costs – however firstly many of the costs were left as unknown and secondly the architect seemed to be under the impression that he would be project managing the whole thing. As any sensible customer we asked questions – such as, if we are expected to pay your expenses – can you give at least a rough estimate as to what that will be? If as you suggest there is the possibility of having to have a structural engineer, what would one of those cost (only an estimate – so we know what kind of ball park).

And in an email a week later we receive the following:-

I think the answer is that I cannot provide the level of certainty you need regarding my fees & expenses. Ultimately neither can I provide the same degree of certainty about the build costs, at least until we have embarked on the design work.  There are just too many unknowns at the initial stages.   You have to leave a margin for overspend & from your questions I detect you just haven’t got it.

I think the best arrangement would be to invite another architect – you did say you had approached others – who may be able to help.

Is it me, or would anyone be outraged at the arrogance of someone, who when asked to quantify what we are paying for, receive an email suggesting that we cannot afford the building work? Firstly paying for the building work is of no relevance to the architect. We want plans drawn up. You are not the builder. Secondly, just because someone what you to justify what charges may be faced is in now way an indication as to affordability. I could be a millionaire, it doesn’t mean I will waste money on services I don’t want. Some people clearly don’t want the business I guess.

I think we may be having an interesting telephone conversation with a certain architect tomorrow.


Do you think Ken Clarke could be persuaded this is a good idea?