Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘SVT

Yet another firing based on opinion

with 3 comments

Browsing the pages of SVT teletext, I encountered a very disturbing entry*, dealing with events at Kalmar HC, a lower-level Swedish ice-hockey team:

*The source does not provide permanent content; however, I have saved a copy locally, should anyone require the full Swedish text.

Its trainer, one Duane Smith, has been fired for expressing private opinions on Twitter, with no immediate relation to the team or his work.

It is claimed that he made at least ten relevant statements*. Two** quotes are given, “Nigeria är världens aidshuvudstad” (“Nigeria is the aids capital of the world”) and “Fuck Islam” (no translation needed).

*“inlägg”: This is vague term that could mean different things in different contexts. I chose “statements” as a similarly vague English term. In context, “tweets” is probably what is meant.

**Note that if some of the other quotes were, in some sense, worse, it is reasonable to assume that they would have been used instead. Most likely, these two statements were those considered the most convincing. (While, cf. below, not being convincing at all…)

In the body of the text, it is claimed that he has expressed xenophobe opinions (“uttryckt främlingsfientliga åsikter”); the heading speaks of racist statements (“rasistiska inlägg”).

Looking at the two given statements, it is clear that neither can be considered racist or xenophobe in it self. Further, that even ascribing a racist or xenophobe motivation is pure speculation*. (The same applies to the alleged violation of KHC’s values. Cf. below.)

*With reservation for information not present in the entry. However, if such information was present, it would be inexcusable to not present it correspondingly, instead giving two quotes that do not support the claims. It is possible that Duane Smith is racist, but it is up to the “prosecution” to prove it.

The first claim comes close to being factually true*, does not (alone) contain any type of value statement, and could, depending on context, be seen as a factual observation or even something supportive of e.g. Nigeria**. Would there have been much outrage if he had said “The U.S. is the crime capital of the world”? Highly unlikely, even though this claim is further from the truth.

*According to Wikipedia “Nigeria has the second-largest number of people living with HIV.”, making the claim off-by-one if we count absolute numbers. Going by relative numbers, there are those who do much worse, including South-Africa, which is also the number one in absolute numbers; however, the rate is still disastrous by e.g. Swedish standards. (I give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume that “capital” is used just to follow the template phrase. However, even if he actually believed that Nigeria is a city, rather than a country, that only makes him weak at African geography—not racist.)

**Say, “Nigeria is the AIDS capital of the world. Please donate to help give the sick modern medicine.” or something implying that “AIDS capital” means “AIDS research capital”. (Which is not to say that this is what Duane Smith actually intended. The point is rather that condemning someone for this statement, without additional support, and without being explicit about context, is incompetent, intellectually dishonest, or both.)

The second expresses a negative opinion about a religion—and a religion which has members of a great number of nationalities and ethnicities, including white-as-snow Swedes. Note carefully that the claim is not even “Fuck Muslims”—it is “Fuck Islam”. To boot, this opinion is one that is shared by very many otherwise considered sensible (although most would be less blunt), be it because they dislike Islam specifically or religion in general. Here too, the context could be quite relevant.* Would there have been much outrage had he said “Fuck Christianity”? Highly unlikely (at least in Sweden).

*Compare e.g. “I just heard about the latest ISIS attack. Fuck Islam.” with “I just saw another woman with a burka. Fuck Islam.”, and note how very different these two words come over. (Notwithstanding that even the first could be seen as unfair or ignorant, seeing that ISIS is just one part of Islam, just like Nazi-Germany was just one part of Europe.)

To boot, we have to consider that Twitter, by its nature, is not a medium for eloquence and deep thought—but for soundbites and spur-of-the-moment statements. What is said on Twitter should be viewed less seriously than what is written in e.g. an article, for the simple reason that it need not reflect deeper opinions. (And for reasons like the lack of context, cf. above; or the greater relative impact of typos, “auto correction”, an accidental misformulation, …) A recent “Family Guy” episode, “The D in Apartment 23”, contains a brilliant illustration with disturbing parallels to what happened here. Some claims, e.g. “Kill all Jews.” would be out of the question even on Twitter; others, e.g. “Fuck Islam.” is within the realms of what a perfectly reasonable (but careless) person could “tweet” in the wrong circumstances—or a perfectly none-careless person when he assumes that the reader knows the context. (Cf. the above footnote.)

Further, even if Duane Smith, for the sake of argument, is a racist (xenophobe, whatnot), that is in and by itself not a legitimate reason to fire him: Actions are what counts—not opinions. A world in which opinions alone lead to such consequences is a tyranny and a dystopia, where diversity of opinion will be severely diminished, where faulty decisions will be made because they happen to be more orthodox, where even science will be hindered, where personal freedoms are unfairly reduced, … Unfortunately, this is the world towards we are increasingly heading, and even now all this, including restrictions on science, is happening—the question is merely one of degree and whether we will be able to turn this disastrous trend in time. Such firings are the more unfortunate, even offensive, considering the very large number of incompetent, negligent, and/or lazy people who are allowed to keep their jobs despite legitimate reasons to get rid of them.

His firing might have been legitimate, had it been shown that these opinions hindered him in his work. No such argument was raised, however, with the claimed reason “These opinions conflict with KHC’s values on the equal worth of all humans” (“Dessa uppfattningar står i strid med KHC:s värderingar om alla människors lika värde”). As can be seen, this was purely a matter of Duane Smith’s allegedly* having the wrong opinions. A firing might also have been legitimate, had he claimed to speak for KHC; however, no indication is made that this was the case.

*As can be seen from the above discussion, even this has not been demonstrated.

Did Duane Smith do something wrong? Yes! He appears to have apologized and not taken a fight, thereby giving the forces of intolerance and political correctness yet another easy victory, making repetitions of such scenarios even more likely, moving us even closer to dystopia.

Please, if you are ever in such a situation, in particular should you be a politician, executive, celebrity, …, have the guts to do the right thing! Take a stand for freedom of speech! Stand by your opinions! Do not just cave and apologize! (And if a PR specialist advises you to the contrary, fire him…) If sufficiently many stand up against scenarios like these, they will cease.

Clarifying note:
In the analysis of the text, it is often unclear who is to blame for what. For instance, is the grossly incorrect use of “racism” stemming from KHC or from the incompetent and PC obsessed “journalists” from SVT? Were there actual damning information that SVT left out through poor judgment? Etc. In the big picture, this does not really matter, because the overall, societal problem remains the same and of roughly the same scope. For this reason, I have chosen not to dwell deeper into the details of the issue to clarify blame, to check whether other sources might have more damming information, whatnot. However, I do advice the reader to be aware that it is not a given where, in this case, the societal problem has manifested how and who is to be criticized in detail for what.

Excursion on the PC crowd vs. Muslims:
The treatment of Islam and Muslims in PC circles is quite inconsistent: In situations like the above, anyone who says anything negative is a racist and should be fired. In other circumstances, Muslims are evil sexist bastards and … should be fired. I note specifically several cases of Muslim men refusing to shake hands with women for religious or decency reasons—despite Muslim women often having the same attitude of not wanting to shake hands with men. Indeed, this is the type of cultural difference that should be tolerated—but in PC circles imaginary misogynism appears to trump real cultural intolerance. (And misandrism is mysteriously considered non-existent…) This attitude to handshakes is not comparable to the attitude against pork, but appears to be more comparable to a Christian man not feeling up women during introductions—a matter of respect, not contempt.

Excursion on organizations and values:
It is questionable whether organizations should be allowed to profess or require values in the first place (unless, like a political party, values are a central aspect). Take KHC: It has players, it has volunteers, it has paying members, …* What if the board or whatnot suddenly decides that it has a certain set of values? What if a player/volunteer/whatnot has different values? What if, as is often the case, someone has spent decades actively supporting the club with his time and money, this someone is member of party X, and the new values are incompatible with those of X? Etc. What if the board today has different personal preferences than the board five years ago, and in another five years the new board has yet another view? Worse: Chances are that there is not even a decision on values, a list of values, or anyway to verify compliance in advance. More likely than not, these “values” were made up ad hoc to sound good in front of the press or to conform with societal expectations, like the stereotypical answer of “World peace!” from a beauty-pageant contestant.

*Assuming that it follows typical patterns in sport. I have not verified this.

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Written by michaeleriksson

June 1, 2018 at 4:06 am

Me too four

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As a follow-up to Me too three, where I write “not yet proof that more legislation will come”:

SVT teletext now claims:

Regeringen lägger ett förslag till ny sexualbrottslag redan före jul, lovade jämställdhetsminister Åsa Regnér (S) vid måndagens riksdagsdebatt om metoo- uppropet.

(The cabinet* will propose a new sex-crime law even before Christmas, equality minister/secretary Åsa Regnér (social democrats) promised during Monday’s parliamentary debate on the metoo call-to-action.)

*Translating the Swedish “Regering(en)” is a bit tricky, especially with terminology and systems differing from country to country. In a U.S. context, “administration” might be a term more likely to be used; however, possibly, mostly because of differences in system.

In other words, my fears of rushed through and potentially* damaging legislation are coming true. (And, yes, these fears were a strong motivator behind my previous post, on “noble causes”.) I note that nothing has actually changed over the last few months that makes new legislation beneficial: Either it would have been beneficial six months ago or it is not beneficial today. The only thing “me too” has achieved is to cause a political momentum and an opportunity for politicians to look good and to further their own agendas. I might go as far as doubting that even a parliamentary debate was called for—politics should not deal with hype topics on social media, it should deal with genuine societal concerns. (To which I note, again, that things have changed only with regard to the former, not the latter.)

*To judge this in detail, I will have to await the actual proposal—but the obsession of Swedish politics with men as evil-doers and women as victims leaves me pessimistic. I will possibly follow-up on this later, once the details are known. Obviously, all of this post must be read with the caution that details are lacking.

In as far as legislation is needed, it must not be rushed in this manner. Legislation should be thought-through and well-researched. In a situation like this, it can safely be assumed that the cabinet does not have sufficient own expertise, making calls for third-party input necessary*. In areas, like this one, where the daily life of a great many people can be affected, extra care should be taken; especially, to ensure that no measures do more harm than do good when everyone is considered.

*Unfortunately, knowing Swedish politicians, these calls would likely just consist in asking a few professors of gender studies for their (predictable and predictably misandrist) input. The principle still holds.

Förslaget kommer att innehålla både samtycke och oaktsamhet, samt skärpt straff för vissa sexualbrott.

(The proposal will contain* both consent and negligence**, as well as increased punishment for certain sex crimes.)

*The unfortunate and ambiguous formulation is present in the original. The actual intention is, almost certainly, that the proposal will address issues of whether consent exists between the involved parties (or what constitutes consent) and whether sufficient care (of some form) was taken.

**The use of “negligence” for “oaktsamhet” is correct in most contexts; however, it is possible that something different was intended here (possibly “carelessness” or “lack of consideration”). For want of details, I must speculate.

This could be an attempt to push through disproportional and unrealistic consent laws, or result in men being put in an unreasonable situation. Cf. the almost absurd take on sexual harassment that is present in many U.S. organizations, or how some schools call for verbal (!) consent every ten minutes (!). Also note that some Swedish “sex crimes” are actually Orwellian sexcrimes*.

*Cf. e.g. the situation around Julian Assange, who was accused of “rape” based on alleged events that in no reasonable country could have been considered rape (notwithstanding the possibility of another crime); or the absurd legislation on prostitution.

Det var en debatt som enbart fördes av kvinnor och sällan har enigheten varit så stor mellan partierna, vilket Åsa Regnér också lyfte fram som särskilt värdefullt. Genom Metoo-rörelsen har många kvinnor vittnat om övergrepp och sextrakasserier.

(It was a debate by women only and rarely has the unity between the parties been this large, which Åsa Regnér pointed to as particularly valuable. Through the Metoo movement, many women have testified about abuse and sexual harassment.)

That the debate was women only is inexcusable, a gross violation of democratic processes and a dangerous precedent: What is next? That only women are allowed to vote on certain issues?** To call this “valuable” demonstrates a complete unsuitability for any cabinet role. Unity might be good, but firstly there is a fair chance that this would have looked differently, had men been allowed*, secondly, considering how little has actually changed, this unity is more likely a sign of irrationality.

*Effectively, the participants are pre-filtered in a way that distorts the implications of consent and dissent. Similarly, a debate with only the immigrant MPs from the various parties might show a pseudo-consensus on some immigration issue that does not match the overall views of the respective parties. Ditto, a debate on property taxes with only property owning MPs. Etc.

**I note e.g. that the German “Green party” has a fair bit of internal regulations one-sidedly favoring women when it comes to voting, including optional women-only votes. The fear is by no means absurd.

As repeatedly stated, none of the testimony has actually given reason to re-evaluate the scope of existing problems, making the second sentence* useless filler, especially since no SVT reader could reasonably be unaware of the campaign. Cf. also Me too two; and also note problems like ignoring that the direction is often the opposite (female-on-male instead of male-on-female) or the inclusion of flawed examples (e.g. due to misunderstandings, overreactions, made up accusations).

*From context, it is not entirely clear whether this sentence should be attributed to something Regnér said; or whether it is SVTs words only.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 11, 2017 at 6:48 pm

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Me too three

with one comment

I have repeatedly written about both the “me too” phenomenon (cf. [1], [2]) and the low-quality and/or feminist dominated reporting by SVT teletext (cf. e.g. [3]).

On the 5th of December, there was another series of disproportionally many “metoo” and/or sex abuse pages present on this highly partisan news services, most featuring prominently, at the very beginning of the listing. I kept these pages temporarily open for a discussion of this problematic development, only to find that on my next visit (earlier today, the 8th) another two pages, again at the very beginning, had been published. The entries from both days are listed below*.

*Swedish original, translation in round brackets, my comment in English outside of brackets. The texts have been compressed to what I want to emphasize; I admit to some sloppiness with the indication of cut-outs. (But note that the texts were similarly short to begin with, this being teletext.)

I note that we are now approaching a point where these campaigns can have a massive detrimental impact on society, because panicking or populist politicians and officials use them as a basis for various measures, potentially including more misguided laws (something Sweden already has more than its share of).

5th:

Konstnärer i metoo-upprop

(Artists in metoo call-to-action)

I DN skriver kvinnor, trans- och ickebinära personer inom konstnärs- sfären om sexuella övergrepp och
trakasserier.

(Women, trans- and non-binary-[sic!] persons within the artistic sphere write about sexual abuse and harassment in [leading morning news paper].)

Note that there is no mention of men as victims, well in accordance with feminist narratives (and not the least in accordance with reality).

[…]kräver att alla konstens institutioner förändrar sina strukturer för att aktivt motverka sexuellt förtryck och övergrepp.

([…] demands that all the art’s institutions [institutions of the arts?] change their structures to actively counter sexual oppression [sic!] and abuse. )

Note the massive interventions, with little actual presumed benefits, this would imply. Also note the “oppression of women by men” narrative implied by the formulation used.

Facken: “Metoo får konsekvenser”

(Unions: “MeToo will have consequences”)

Samtidigt uppger majoriteten av både fackförbunden och arbetsgivarna att de inte fått inte in fler anmälningar efter metoo.

(At the same time, the majority of both unions and employers assert that they have not [sic!] received more reports [about abuse and whatnot] after meetoo.)

Proving my point that the large Twitter campaigns have no actual effect on what happens or has happened in reality. That people tweet about abuse does not increase the amount of abuse actually present. To boot, this could be an indication that the scope of the problems was already known and/or that the campaigns do nothing to increase the probability of additional reports.

Riksdagen debatterar sexövergrepp

(Parliament debates sexual abuse)

-Ingen kan längre blunda för hur problemen med sexuella trakasserier och övergrepp skär genom hela samhället. Nu måste vi i politiken komma med lösningar, säger V-ledaren Jonas Sjöstedt.

(-Noone can be ignorant of how the problems with sexual harassment and abuse cuts through society. Now we politicians must provide solutions, says [the leader of the former communist party])

I beg to differ, cf. [2]. Nothing has changed except for a populist campaign, and having politicians act on panic making and currently popular issues is exactly the wrong thing to do. (I have plans for a future post on this topic.)

Förskolor ombyggda efter sexbrott

(Pre-schools reconstructed [rebuilt?, renovated?] after sex crime)

Samtliga Kristianstads förskolor har byggts om efter avslöjandet som kom 2015 att en 40-årig barnskötare i Kristianstads vikariepool hade förgripit sig på ett 20-tal barn, rapporterar SVT Skåne.

(All [sic!] the pre-schools in Kristianstad have been reconstructed after the revelation that a 40 y.o. care-taker in the cities temp pool had abused twenty-something children, according to [local news].)

Massive changes caused by a single perpetrator. That this is an unfounded panic reaction is proved by the fact that the presence of this single individual does not make it anymore likely that there will be more perpetrators in Kristianstad than in, say, Linköping—or in Kristianstad when the schools were originally built. If measures were needed, they should not be restricted to Kristianstad. The only real Kristianstad connection in the decision making is the local fear, which is unfounded in as far as it larger than in other cities.

Nu finns fönster på toaletterna, sköt- bord där alla kan se dem och total- förbud för privata mobiltelefoner.

(Now there are windows on the toilets, changing tables where everyone can see them, and a complete ban on private mobile phones.)

The first two items could reduce the children’s privacy and give those liking to look at naked children better opportunities… The third is an idiotic misstep, reducing individual rights for no relevant reason. On the outside, one could conceive of a ban against cameras (and by implication mobiles with a camera); however, there are mobiles without cameras, any pictures taken could be useful evidence in case of new offenses, and the earlier text makes no mention of taking pictures as the crime—based on the formulation physical sexual abuse must be assumed, and a ban on mobiles does nothing to prevent this. Then there is the question of how much this has cost…

(In addition there were several other entries that could potentially have been included for reasons of a political correctness rather than actual news worthiness, e.g. relating to child marriage and gay marriage.)

8th (single two-pager):

Ministern om metoo: Handlar om makt

(Minister about metoo: About power)

An obvious variation of the feminist “rape is about power” drivel that presumes to tell the perpetrators why they did what they did and forces events into a feminist narrative.

[longer discussion of talks between politicians and industry/unions]

-Det finns en ny lagstiftning från 1 januari i år, att alla arbetsplatser ska ha ett förebyggande och främjande arbete när det gäller att motverka diskriminering, förklarade Johansson.

(-There is new legislation the 1st of January this year, that all work places must have a preemptive and [encouraging? benefiting?] work for countering discrimination, explained [minister of labor market issues; formerly communist, current social-democrat])

Fortunately, this not yet proof that more legislation will come, but it is a clear sign that a. people like her consider legislation on the issues important, b. legislation does not provided a miracle cure.

Written by michaeleriksson

December 8, 2017 at 6:28 pm

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Follow-up: Swedish teletext and PC obsession

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And I visit the teletext again, only to find:

Page 304 and 305 deal with the alleged sending of “penis images” to a female official (?) by three members of the Swedish national soccer team.

Page 306 deals with a claim that FIFA spent about as much money on a celebratory event as on developing women’s soccer. (FIFA retorts that the numbers are incorrect.)

(Remember that these pages are the very first pages of the sport section after the table of contents, the equivalent of the front page of an ordinary news paper.)

This is a truly sickening agenda pushing and abuse of what should be the sports section.

Written by michaeleriksson

October 26, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Swedish teletext and PC obsession

with 4 comments

I have already written repeatedly about incompetent journalism in Sweden (in general) and the teletext of the Swedish national television (in particular, cf. e.g. [1]). At the same time, topics like feminism and political correctness have been extremely common.

Quite often these areas of concern overlap in my daily observations. For instance: Earlier today, I visited the aforementioned teletext online. For the umpteenth time, the sports section had prioritized PC issues over actual sports news.

Pages 303 and 304 (i.e. the first and second article page, after the “table of contents” for the sport section on pages 300–302) dealt with criticism of the nomination of one Deyna Castellanos, apparently an 18 y.o. amateur, for FIFA’s female player of the year award. This is border-line news worthy to begin with, better suited for a single paragraph in an overall discussion of the award—and it is given two full pages* at the virtual front page. I saw no other entry dealing with the awards or nominations in general… Apparently poor Deyna is not good enough for the nomination and this is proof that FIFA does not care enough about women’s soccer**. (Of course, another interpretation is that FIFA does care and wants to increase attention through picking someone young and exciting. Yet another that FIFA simply and honestly thinks very highly of her…) The pages were (justifiably) categorized as “soccer”.

*But beware that the teletext pages are much shorter than regular news paper pages.

**Specifically, a quote by a U.S. player, Megan Rapinoe, is given in Swedish “Det skickar en tydlig signal att Fifa inte bryr sig om damfotboll”, which re-translated into English amounts to “It sends a clear signal that Fifa does not care about women’s soccer”. This would not be quote-worthy for someone not trying to angle this into a “pesky old white men” issue, and that they have to resort to quoting a U.S. player is a strong sign that they either dug deep or deliberately have cherry-picked the topic from an English source. (Which is the case, I can only speculate. Neither case would happen with a news source and individual writer without an agenda, however.)

Page 305 (the third page) dealt with a Swedish cross-country skier (Charlotte Kalla) praising some form of social media campaign (“MeToo”) on sharing abuse experiences. In as far as this is news worthy, it has little or nothing to do with sport and should be put in a more general news sector. This page was very dubiously classified as “cross-country skiing”, likely for the sole reason that this is Kalla’s sport.

Page 307* contained claims by an alleged sports researcher (“Idrottsforskaren”) Jesper Fundberg, who is not surprised about alleged penis images sent by players on the national team… (There is no context given and there is no substantiation that this had actually taken place, but such information might be clear from previous reporting.) He says e.g. “Jag skulle säga att det finns en normalisering av hur män tar plats. Det är en normalisering av mäns sätt att trycka dit, trycka upp och trycka ner kvinnor på olika sätt”—“I would say that there is a normalization** of how men take up space***. It is a normalization of men’s way to press on, press up and press down**** women in various ways”. This page was extremely dubiously classified as “soccer”.

*I am a little confused as to what happened to page 306. In my recollection, these were all consecutive pages. It could be that I misremembered; it could be that page 306 dealt with either the same topic as 305 or 307 and was prematurely closed by me. By the nature of the medium, I cannot go back and check, but have to go by what is in those tabs I kept open. (No, the page is not in my browser cache either.)

**Likely in the sense of having become/begin considered a state of normality, something taken more or less for granted. While this is a legitimate academic and “social discourse” term, I have found it to be rare outside certain circles of ideologically driven pseudo-scientists and propagandists, and to some degree it serves as a shibboleth (at least when used outside an academic context).

***Or, possibly, how men take seats. Either which way, it is a metaphorical expression for alleged male behaviors centering around attention hogging and similar phenomena in the general, highly prejudiced and unfair “men feel entitled, especially when they compare themselves to women” genre.

****The sentence is only very marginally better in Swedish. He appears to invent expressions as he goes along… What he actually intends to say is almost certainly that tired old lie/prejudice that men oppress women.

This is exactly the type of astrology level bull-shit a serious news source should filter out—certainly not feature prominently. He contributes to anti-male prejudices, spreads misinformation, and gives a very distorted view of the world to those too uninformed or too weak at critical thinking see through it. His talk of “normalization” borders on the offensive, considering how heavily tilted large portions of Swedish society is towards women as the norm and/or the “good” sex.

To boot, he does not at all appear to be a sports researcher: Going by an Internet search, he is more of a gender studies guy to begin with, and I saw no signs of sports research. His own web pages calls him an ethnologist and consultant, and puts down his field of business as gender, equality, and diversity. (In the Swedish original, respectively “etnolog”, “konsult”, “genus”, “jämställdhet” and “etnisk mångfald”.) In other words: He is not only a gender studies guy, with all what that implies, but he actually makes money from spreading this type of misinformation and relies on the continuation of such prejudices for his livelihood…

(Note: Using “post by email” I originally managed to publish a version in which some changes were not yet written to disk. That version has been deleted.)

Written by michaeleriksson

October 23, 2017 at 11:58 pm

Swedish teletext and incompetence

with 2 comments

In this era of Internet news, one of my main news sources is svt-text—the teletext (!) pages of the Swedish national television, which I visit about once a day (albeit in the Internet version). The brevity of each individual page (being limited by what fits within teletext) makes the “articles” highly compact and it is easy to get a quick overview. If something seems interesting, there is always the possibility to find more detailed information elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the people behind this service are not intellectual giants, and I often find myself sighing over the unnecessary quality loss and inconveniences.

To take a few examples (some Internet-specific; some problematic for TV users to):

  1. The article titles are often so lacking in information that is hard to judge which articles are worth reading without actually reading them. In at least some cases, in particular with sports, even the rough topic cannot be predicted from the title…

    For instance, I just called up the sports page and found the title “Rekordstort intresse för mästarna” (roughly “Interest for champions on record high”). What champions? What sport? What level (national? world? …?) What type of interest? Who is interested? Men’s team or women’s? “Ordinary” sports or “para-sports”?

    Looking at the detail page, the actual story is so uninteresting that few would have bothered to open it with a better title and it can seriously be questioned whether it should have even been published in the first place: The Swedish national champions in floorball (!) have managed to sell 100 (!!!) season’s tickets. The page did not say whether this was the men’s or women’s champions. Honestly, this is something that barely qualifies for the local news paper of wherever these champions were based.

    Sigh…

  2. During the conversion to HTML, links are added in such an unintelligent manner that any number occurring in the page stands the risk of being interpreted as referring to another page and being turned into a link. (Remember that teletext pages are identified by three-digit numbers.)

    This has, admittedly, grown considerably better over the years, but it still happens, possibly as much as 15 years after my first visit…

    This is the weirder as implies that the whole setup is amateurish, most likely in the form that a plain-text page is composed to be published “on the TV” without any alterations, while the Internet version is just generated from this plain-text without any semantic information. A professional would, as a matter of course, have kept the “master version” separate form the “TV version” and used a markup language (even be it a rudimentary one) to keep semantic information. The TV and Internet version would then both be generated from this master. This would include marking page references so that they cannot be confused with numbers during generation.

    Sigh…

  3. While the language level is poor overall, there are two specific ever recurring and highly annoying problems:

    Firstly, differences between A and B are almost invariably formulated as “A is better than B at [something or other]”, even when the “better” is highly subjective and even when it is not really supported by the text (e.g. because absolute numbers are compared when relative numbers would be appropriate). This in particular where differences between men and women are concerned*. I would only be marginally surprised if the headline “women are better than men at using drugs” would be used for an article reporting that women use more cocaine than men…

    *Generally, they have a problem with a feminist or PC world-view, but with a Swedish news source that almost goes without saying…

    Secondly, there is a virtual obsession with “hylla” (hard to translate, but “praise” when used as in the phrase “praise the Lord” is a decent match; “eulogize” can come close to, in some uses). If someone makes any form of positive statement about someone else, he allegedly “hyllade” him. If someone wins an international gold medal, one or two pages are dedicated to “tittarnas hyllningar” (or similar; roughly, “the viewers praise”)*. Etc.

    *Why they waste space by including the praise of the viewers in the first place is beyond me. It has no news value and the page could have been saved for something more valuable.

    The word, normally reserved for special occasions, is thrown around in a blanket manner and with very little value attached to it. Often it amounts to confusing “Would you have dinner with me?” and “Would you marry me?”…

    Sigh…

  4. Naturally, as news items arrive or are removed, page numbers will change. To handle this should not be that hard: Alter the page numbers and references of all involved pages and then publish them together. But no: Individual pages are altered separately and published immediately, leading to such effects as someone opening a page on X and finding an article dealing with Y or both page 110 and 111 having the exact same contents.*

    *Both can happen even when publishing all changes together, be it through unfortunate timing or because someone has opened an index page and then waited a minute or two before opening article pages. However, it will be a rare occurrence. The frequency at svt-text is far, far too high to be explained by such instances.

    Sigh…

  5. Generally, there are many problems around page numbers and page handling. For instance, it is quite common that the contents that once were on page X stays on page X for days—even after the page contents have officially changed. (Following the new contents as a virtual page within the page.) Or take the leader-board for the recent British Open/The Open golf-tournament: With a fellow Swede winning, I tried to follow the results through svt-text, but found that every single time that I refreshed the page, the leader-board had moved to another page. After some five or six times I gave up (ESPN had something that worked much better). Is it not obvious that such contents should be treated differently and fixed on the same page? This especially since they do have a dedicated number interval for “live” sports results that is used for that exact purpose, e.g. to track the score of soccer games.

    Sigh…

Written by michaeleriksson

August 2, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , ,

Interpreting statistics and research (housework among boys and girls)

with 2 comments

I just encountered a Swedish news service claiming that “Girls help [do housework] more at home”/“Flickor hjälper till mer hemma”.

While this article, to my mild surprise, did not make the usual partisan statements of e.g. “Girls are better at X”, it still manages to show some common problems with reading of statistics and how poor critical thinking can lead people (in particular, journalists) astray.

To quote relevant parts:

SCB har undersökt vilka hushålls-
sysslor barn i åldrarna 10-18 år
hjälper till med.

83 procent av flickorna och 79 pro-
cent av pojkarna hjälper till med hus-
hållsarbete minst en timme i veckan.

([“The bureau of statistics”] has investigated what household chores children in the age range 10–18 years help with.

83 per cent of the girls and 79 per cent of the boys help with household work for at least an hour a week.)

Syssla; Flickor; Pojkar

Bäddar sin säng; 82 proc; 77 proc

Diskar eller plockar i/ur diskmaskinen; 81 proc; 71 proc

Städar sitt rum; 78 proc; 64 proc

Tar hand om syskon; 35 proc; 36 proc

Arbetar utomhus; 23 proc; 40 proc

(Task; Girls; Boys

Makes own bed; 82 %; 77 %

Does the dishes or loads/unloads the dish-washer; 81 %; 71 %

Cleans own room; 78 %; 64 %

Takes care of siblings; 35 %; 36 %

Works outdoors; 23 %; 40 %)

(The news service in questione does not provide an archive, so I cannot give a permanent link. Should I encounter the data from another source, I will add one.)

Going by the numbers presented (but beware that the full report may give another view; for instance, the list of task is likely to be abbreviated), the claim is highly dubious. Firstly, the difference in overall numbers is comparatively small (certainly not large enough to allow for predictions about individuals) and, depending on the size of the sample, could lack statistical significance. Secondly, and more importantly, the tasks are oddly chosen:

Both making ones own bed and cleaning ones own room are things that do not constitute “helping at home”—they are something that a child in the age bracket given either does or does not do for his/her own benefit. (Similarly, baking cookies for ones own consumption is not “helping at home” either—nor is tweaking ones own moped.)

The natural step would be to adjust the overall numbers by removing these entries. For lack of in-depth data, this is not possible; however, we can make a very rough first comparison by simply adding percentages. Now, in the original version we have 82 + 81 + 78 + 35 + 23 = 299 for the girls and 77 + 71 + 64 + 36 + 40 = 288 for the boys. (Pleasingly, 288 / 299 * 83 is just shy of 80, which compares well to the original 79 % overall for boys—in particular, as rounding can cause minor distortions.) Removing the “self serving” tasks, we instead have 81 + 35 + 23 = 139 for the girls and 71 + 36 + 40 = 147 for the boys—who are now ahead by more than they used to trail (as a proportion of the total).

The tentative conclusion, then: Boys (!) help more at home. (Incidentally and anecdotally: This was definitely the case when looking at me and my sister as teenagers. She could barely be bothered to put her own plates in the dish-washer; I moved the lawn and chopped wood for the fireplace.) Of course, I cannot guarantee that this would remain true if the raw data was re-investigated, but the gap is sufficiently large that the original claim (that girls help more) should be viewed as unsupported.

As an aside, the removed categories reflect an issue that is worth keeping in mind when discussing housework: Men and women have different priorities when it comes to cleaning and use of available time. (In my opinion, men have it the right way around and women should take a more relaxed attitude.)

Written by michaeleriksson

June 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm