Media literacy: we’ve got a piece of info, now what? (and some data/thoughts on terrorism)

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Media literacy (the art of how to consume media smartly and responsibly) is something that I’ve been meaning to write about for ages: and now since I’m back to blogging after a pretty long hiatus seems to be as good of a time as ever.

So, let’s take something that caught my eye today: a tweet from Nigel Farage; because he is, in the great words of Stewart Lee, “a character”.

Riiight…. So we got a simple, straightforward, piece of information: there’s this guy who’s a law enforcement chief (so he should know his stuff) and he’s saying that about 5000 EU nationals are deemed to present a risk of engaging in terrorist acts. Now, what do we make of this? What is it supposed to mean to us? Presented, as it is, by Mr. Farage in a series of anti-EU tweets, it is presumably supposed to mean: “The EU is a scary place full of terrorists, vote for me so I can get you out”.

Yet somehow I’m reminded of an old joke: “The overwhelming majority of adult deaths happen in bed- so keep out of it!”

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Monday Graph: UKIP Maths

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This Monday, I’m featuring a very interesting and witty resource I discovered on Twitter: UKIP Maths are debunking affirmation made by UKIP members in their campaigns, and fighting them with cold hard facts.

Let’s look first at this graph; column on the left shows the Government’s estimates of the percentage of the UK population born overseas; the column on the right is from a 2013 ONS poll and shows the percentage of the UK population that respondents intending to vote UKIP at the next elections believe was born overseas.

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(In case you’re wondering, the general public estimated the number of foreign-born people in the UK as higher than the actual figure, at around 25%; but UKIP supporters overestimate it by a wider margin).

So, UKIP supporters tend to think there are much more immigrants in the country than there actually are. Fair enough.

But it gets more interesting…

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Monday Graph: attitudes to immigration by political party

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Courtesy of British Future (via)

In a poll carried out by Ipsos Mori for British Future, people were asked: to give the contribution of immigration to Britain on a score of 0 (entirely negative) to 10 (entirely positive).

The results are below

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What we see:

-Roughly about 1 in 5 of all voters gave immigration a 0; about 1 in 4 gave it a score higher than 7

-UKIP voters quite unsurprisingly stand out in that 41% gave it a 0 and only 5% (so one in 20) 7 or higher.

-Conservative voters cover the anti-immigration side and middle ground quite evenly, but they are unlikely to give immigration a score higher than 7

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Smart people saying smart things

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First of all, Grayson Perry. In the New Statesman. Mandatory reading for anyone interested in gender studies; or class studies, or identity studies.

“When we talk of identity, we often think of groups such as black Muslim lesbians in wheelchairs. This is because identity only seems to become an issue when it is challenged or under threat. Our classic Default Man is rarely under existential threat; consequently, his identity remains unexamined. It ambles along blithely, never having to stand up for its rights or to defend its homeland.”

Then, a series of interesting reactions to UKIP winning the by-election in Clacton:

First, a Fabians report on “Labour’s UKIP Problem” and how it can be overcome; by Marcus Roberts, with research from Ian Warren and Rob Ford (No, NOT the mayor of Toronto, the academic from Manchester who wrote “Revolt On The Right”!).

“There are five critical and high-risk seats under direct threat by UKIP, for both Labour and the Conservatives each:

• Labour seats under direct UKIP threat: Great Grimsby, Dudley North, Plymouth Moor View, Rother Valley, Rotherham

• Con seats under direct UKIP threat: Clacton, South Thanet, Thurrock, Great Yarmouth, Waveney”
IPPR’s Alice Sachrajada: UKIP argue that the UK needs to ‘get back control of its borders’ and should limit ‘the overall numbers of migrants’. Their main vehicle for doing so is leaving the EU, coupled with even tighter controls on non EU migrants. Whatever the merits of these policies – and at IPPR we’re convinced they would damage the UK’s national interests – reducing immigration in such ways would not, in the short to medium term, necessarily reduce the impacts of immigration.”
And finally, William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), on why Europe needs to make immigration easier
“The high-road scenario for migration has to start with a fundamental shift in perceptions; we need to correct the myths and misconceptions that surround migration, and so restore public confidence in governments’ ability to manage migration effectively. That means we need to reaffirm that discrimination and violence against migrants is intolerable. Above all, perhaps, we must create recognition of the overwhelmingly positive contribution migrants have made throughout history by launching an open dialogue about the role of migration in contemporary societies.”