Friday, July 31, 2009

Sir Simon Jenkins fails again

Simon Jenkins' most recent opinion piece continues his long, glorious tradition of making an utter fool of himself.

In it he lays into Michael Fish and the Met Office for the incorrect forecasts of "barbecue summer" that the press had been bleating about over previous weeks.

One of the many points Fish makes here in defense of the Met Office is that "A lot of blame has to lie with the media who misinterpret the forecasts."

The Met Office, being composed of scientifically trained professionals, in fact said: "there is a 65% chance of above-average temperatures."

Jenkins, however, goes off on one about how the Met Office shouldn't be paid for by the taxpayers if it can't even guarantee "barbecue summer."

Ignoring basic probability theory (that if there is a 65% chance of something happening then there is a 35% chance of it not happening) Jenkins essentially blames the Met Office for the failure of the media to report what the Met Office actually said.

The money quote is where Jenkins says:

We listen uncomplaining to this drivel from one day to the next. We are British. Weather forecasting is like abstract art, any fool can do it once he has got the job.

Ironically, his description of weather forecasting perfectly encapsulates his own "profession" of overindulged, pompous columnist.

Jenkins' piece really is a classic of a certain kind of opinion journalism, based entirely on prejudice and bumptious "common sense" with no reference to actual evidence, statistical theory, or human psychology, and with an hilarious lack of awareness of how much of an innumerate prat he comes across as.