Scottish independence referendum, plus jokes.

Wings Over Scotland


Ally McCoist joins STV

Posted on October 29, 2013 by

We were very pleased with the coverage of our latest Panelbase poll on Monday’s edition of Scotland Tonight. A nice introductory package showed some lingering shots of our front page and logo, and the poll findings were used as a jump-off for an interesting debate between Dennis Canavan and Ian Davidson.

stvpoll

It takes more than a bit of flattery to make us take our eye off the ball, though.

Our more alert viewers won’t need to read any further. But if it’s a wee bit early in the morning for you, let us help you out with a smidgeon of deft picture-editing.

stvpoll2

Apparently 37 is more than five times as big a number as 17 now. (5 x 17 is 85.)

stvpoll3

And seemingly 37 plus 17 (54) is now a smaller number than 45.

This sort of thing really isn’t on. Graphics editors will doubtless say “Oh, but we have to exaggerate things to make it visually clear!” But that’s not making the reality clear, is it? That’s distorting the reality so that it presents a quite drastically untrue picture of the relative population shares, and in particular the size of the undecided vote that’s up for grabs – especially bad when it’s the specific topic of the discussion.

It doesn’t have to be motivated by malice. We’re not saying STV’s graphics team are dastardly evil Unionists. It could just be that they’re horribly misguided, or presented a massively skewed impression through honest human error. But it still won’t do.

stvpoll4b

Above is how the graph SHOULD have looked, with the bars in the correct proportions. It creates a rather different feeling about how much the outcome is up for grabs, doesn’t it? It’s not confusing or anything. Most of the change happens in the blue bar on the right, where there was lots of quiet space.

stvpoll5

So much so, in fact, that we’ve got plenty of room to show what 37 plus 17 actually looks like, were we to add the undecided voters to the Yes ones. Which makes the graph pretty eye-catching, by showing just how much is at stake as the two sides fight over the Don’t Knows who’ll ultimately determine Scotland’s future.

So why not do it that way? Why get it wrong for no good reason? Was the normal graphics person off sick or something, and they had to just grab the first guy passing the Glasgow STV studio to cobble a barchart together at short notice?

mccoistgraph

Don’t give up the day job, Ally.

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  1. 29 10 13 09:26

    Well, Did You? | laidbackviews

125 to “Ally McCoist joins STV”

  1. Keef says:

    Rev. I have to say you are doing a bit of Ally yourself. Why has the blue almost halved from figure 4 from to figure 5?
     
    Or is it one of those optical illusion thingys. :-)

  2. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    SHUSH.

    (Had spotted, and fixed.)

  3. farrochie says:

    Readers of Edward R. Tufte’s book “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” will be familiar with the manipulation of the graphic. Is the % represented by height or area? Is the origin at 0?
     
    See also More risk/less fear v Less risk/more fear.
    http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0000gG

  4. Illy says:

    Saw a *really nasty* advert for RBS today on the way into work today.
     
    The tagline was RBYES, in blue and white.  They were advertising that they accept most morgage applications they recieve or something like that.
     
    Looks to me like they’re trying to muddy the waters for the YES campaign – same imagery, a big white YES on blue.

  5. Doug Daniel says:

    Illy – or they’re latching onto the mood of the nation…?

  6. Ian Brotherhood says:

    @Illy-
     
    Businesses won’t ape the Yes imagery unless they know it’s appealing/positive.
     
    Have you seen the Lidl banners in their car parks?
     
    Similar exploitation of the distinctive blue and white, and slogans like ‘Scotland – We’re With You All the Way’, and ‘Have You Got The Message Yet?‘ (I’m guessing those from memory – if they’re accurate then that proves the effectiveness of such material.)

  7. Doug Daniel says:

    My favourite bit of the whole Scotland Tonight package was them putting “The Gnat’s Chuff” on screen for several seconds. That cracked me up.
     
    Incidentally, graphical mistakes aside, will the fact Scotland Tonight have decided to acknowledge Wings as a genuine and respectable voice in the debate perhaps put a stop to people levelling accusations of unionist bias at them? They’ve made mistakes in the past (getting caught up in the furore over the “top secret document” being the main one), but overall they’ve always been good eggs.

  8. scottish_skier says:

    SHUSH.
     
    Aye, just for a minute there I thought…
     
    TBH Rev, some folk struggle with graphs, particularly when it comes to %’s and calculating these relatively, but the STV one is a joke.

  9. The Man in the Jar says:

    @llly
    “Calm down dear its only a commercial!” Sorry I could not resist that! The RBYES was probably thought up by some add-man somewhere in London who doesn’t even know that there is a referendum next year. Sounds like the old “The bank that likes to say Yes” I cant even remember which bank used that slogan.
     
    As for the graphics on Scotland Tonight. Well spotted Rev. I thought that they were on screen for such a short time that I barely noticed. Or more than likely it is me who is slow :-(

  10. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Have You Got The Message Yet?‘ “

    Surely “messages”?

  11. The RBYES ad made me look twice first time I saw it, but in a good way.  The more visible the word is on the nation’s billboards the better as far as I’m concerned.  RBS wouldn’t be using it if it was anything other than positive.

  12. call me dave says:

    Yawn…!! Slept in .. but off work today.  Well done to get WoS’s profile raised. I expect lots of new ‘lurkers’ today, welcome!
     
    What about YES on the lucozade bottles. Been on them in big bold letters for a year now. I buy a bottle every week just because of it.

  13. The Man in the Jar says:

    @ianbrotherhood
     
    Should that not be “Have you got the messages?” :-)

    Edit. Damn you Rev. Stu! :-(

  14. Les Wilson says:

    The graphs, lets not phaff about, this was manipulation and STV should be requested to reply why they did that, and demand an apology ! End of.

  15. Gin says:

    Congratulations Rev on all the hard work which has got to being able to point out aspects of the detailed presentation on a uniquely non-mainstream media generated bombshell !

    This kind of graphical “inaccuracy” is one of my bugbears also, however it is unfortunately commonplace in much of the media, as your McCoist graphic also shows.  I dont believe on most occasions that it is deliberately intended to mislead, the use of “graphical representations” such as either “offset origin” or  “inclusion of the variable name in the column (but with different colours for emphasis)” are usually just inapproprate use of a feature from someone who has more training on the artistic look rather than the impression conveyed. Or it may be limited knowledge about how different people can take in and interpret the same piece of information, however compared to many of the “textual misrepresentations” we have seen in the MSM in the past I think this is fairly minor.  It is usually excused by saying that the numbers are also given, which is to some extent true – but that does mis the point.

    With graphics and statistics you can attempt to show just about anything if you try hard enough.  I think for now we should just be happy about this reaching the TV and some of the other more balanced than usual items in the MSM over the past few days. 

    For all that, I do agree that your final mock-up graphic does “tell the story” in a much better way … Great Job – Keep it Up !

  16. call me dave says:

    Woken up properly now and see the graph thing with brain engaged, that’s no mistake that’s manipulation.  Still they are at it.  But the news is out, which is the main thing.

  17. Training Day says:

    @Doug
     
    “will the fact Scotland Tonight have decided to acknowledge Wings as a genuine and respectable voice in the debate perhaps put a stop to people levelling accusations of unionist bias at them?”
     
    It’s a step, but until they stop loading pundit panels with Unionist commentators like Torrance, Linklater, Crichton, Gardham et al (without any representation from the other side) then the answer’s no.  And let’s not forget they deemed Sarwar’s ignorant and obnoxious performance in the debate with DFM worthy of a ‘draw’!

  18. Keef says:

    Rev. any chance of an update on just how many new readers clicked your website after last night and what the figures are at present?

  19. AllyPally says:

    My take is that the bottom parts of the bars are being used as labels. In other words the origin is at the foot of the label. If you look at it that light the proportions are about right.

    TV graphics for current affairs shows are done at speed. Given more time the designer would likely have recognised the problem and done something about it.

    Cockup, not conspiracy.

  20. Somebody says:

    Look on the bright side, it’s publicity for Wings. 

  21. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Rev. any chance of an update on just how many new readers clicked your website after last night and what the figures are at present?”

    Don’t think I can get info that specific from Google Analytics, will have a dig later. But we had a very healthy day and picked up about a fortnight’s worth of new Twitter followers in three hours.

  22. ronnie andeson says:

    D Danial  STV always good eggs, is that they good eggs they use in the Bush Tucker Trials if thats whits called a debate bring on the LIMBO Dancers

  23. Desimond says:

    To be fair to wee Ally, Jim Traynor probably got too excited with his crayons making those graphs up. Least he managed to stay within the lines this time.

    As for Scotland Tonight, excellent coverage but surely its the first time anyone here has read the words Ian and Davidson and were still smiling!

  24. Gin says:

    Rev – if you have any appetite left for trying to further cross-reference poll numbers you might want to see what you can pick out from this set of YouGov / Sunday Times data gathered over the whole UK in the same time period as your poll. 
     
    http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/i2bq55ay85/YG-Archive-Pol-Sunday-Times-results-251013.pdf
     
    Key aspect for me was the left hand side – figures broken down for Scotland !  Although at only 166 the sample size is clearly much smaller than your poll, it did stand out to me just how many times the figures for Scotland were at the most extreme away from the “UK Nom”.  Plenty more to pick over, including attitudes on Leadership approval; Economy; Energy and Drugs Policy which might fill out some of the questions which the Wings poll uncovered.
     
    My main impression from this data was that while some people may have been surprised or disappointed by some of the attitude answers in Scotland from the Wings Poll, that it is clear that on most of these topics that Scotland remains considerably more towards the “Social Good” side of the arguments than the rUK !
     
    Would be good to know what you or the Prof. might see in a deeper analysis. 

  25. Gillie says:

    There are graphics, and then there are STV graphics.
     
    It is just as well STV don’t make underpants, because they would be up to your chin. 

  26. Dinnatouch says:

    Maybe Scotland Tonight use the same scaling software as the BBC weather map http://youtu.be/egHXCF9Knn4

  27. ronnie andeson says:

    Yes Airdrie group sets up our stall outside RBS ( does that mean we dont have to put our YES banners up ) or ask them to put more in the windies HEHEHE

    REV git STV telt if there useing your material its on the basis theres nae muckin about wie the product Ah mean who puts their hawn up a turkeys erse tae test the quality

  28. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “My take is that the bottom parts of the bars are being used as labels. In other words the origin is at the foot of the label. If you look at it that light the proportions are about right.
    Cockup, not conspiracy.”

    I made a very deliberate point of saying in the piece that it was entirely possible it was human error rather than anything sinister. But if the origin is the bottom of the label, the “37%” bar is more or less right, but the “17%” one is still quite significantly off.

    Quick crude illustration resizing the 45% bar, including origin, in proportion:

    (Also, if that’s what you’re doing it’s very bad practice, on the most graphic-design-day-one level, to separate the label and bar with a dark line.)

  29. Luigi says:

    Don’t think I can get info that specific from Google Analytics, will have a dig later. But we had a very healthy day and picked up about a fortnight’s worth of new Twitter followers in three hours.
     
    It would be timely for folk to dig out more of those “AYE RIGHT” leaflets and scatter them around again – access the September 2013 archive for the printable version.  Might as well strike for WoS while the iron’s hot!

  30. The Man in the Jar says:

    I had a failed attempt at Twitter on my phone last night. My pre-industrial brain went into meltdown.
     
    I did however click on the WingsScotland Twitter logo at the top of the page. Something that I do quite often. I even managed to link to Grahamskis twitter feed. Absolutely hilarious what a deluded f***wit. The apoplectic rage was beyond belief. Comedy gold.

  31. Gin says:

    Sorry for including the guff at the end of last post.  Too many people posting just now to edit to correct it :-(   
     
    Can’t think why so much activity on the site today  :-)

  32. Morag says:

    My take is that the bottom parts of the bars are being used as labels. In other words the origin is at the foot of the label. If you look at it that light the proportions are about right.
     
    Mmmm, maybe.  Does it work if you actually measure it?  That would certainly explain the glaring anomaly as an innocent mistake.  As you say, with a bit more time the designer might have noticed the problem.
     
    Like I keep saying, Never attribute to malice….

  33. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Rev – if you have any appetite left for trying to further cross-reference poll numbers”

    Readers! For the LOVE OF GOD please don’t paste stuff in from Microsoft apps…

  34. Morag says:

    Ah, posting too fast for me here.  I see RevStu has analysed the alternative-origin idea, though I can’t say I actually understand his diagram completely.
     
    It is kind of funny that every time someone makes a mistake, it always ends up looking better for Better No.

  35. tiderium says:

    way o/t just saw this on bitter together site http://bettertogether.net/blog/entry/the-referendum-is-there-to-be-won-but-only-if-you-get-involved saying they were in Perth during the SNP conference and knocking on doors, anyone? leaflet? newspaper? I was in the town and live in Perth on those days and I didn’t see any sight of them.

  36. Keef says:

    ‘picked up about a fortnight’s worth of new Twitter followers in three hours.’
     
    Have you come to terms with being classified as ‘mainstream’ yet :-)
     
    I’m quite sure I read somewhere last night that WoS had overtaken some MSM due to the fact that WoS was able to fund expensive polls.

  37. Yodhrin says:

    ‘grats Rev, it’s nice to see the Yes online presence being presented as something other than “vicious Cybernats” etc etc.

    I really do wish the presenters would challenge people when they spout nonsense though. I know they might not get the best briefs, and I know the timeslots are limited, but still they get a decent enough wage that they could spare a few hours of a weekend to inform themselves if their network isn’t up to snuff in that regard, and surely it’s better a short timeslot be taken up by the presenter correcting misinformation -and thus ensuring news and current affairs shows fulfill their primary role of informing debate- than by some chump spouting nonsense unopposed.

  38. Indy_Scot says:

    I have to agree with many of the other posts, it would be good for an explanation from STV just to remove any doubt that people might have as to why the graphics were shown the way they were.

  39. kininvie says:

    I was struck by Prof Curtice saying it was doubtful that any newspaper or even broadcaster could afford such a large project nowadays.
     
    Rev, how much did it cost us in the end?  I don’t remember the amount we raised as being the sort of sum that was likely to be beyond a broadcaster’s budget. Newspapers, now, that’s different…

  40. Illy says:

    The amount of editing that can be pulled in things like this is immense.
    Basically, every time the camera angle changes, you have to assume that they’ve cut something out.
    They even take shots of the presenter looking thoughtful to splice in.

  41. tartanfever says:

    kininvie – thought it was around the £3k mark ?
     
    Rev, I’d happily fund another poll or two, but with Christmas coming up I’m gonna be pretty skint from the December pay packet and January is always a bugger.
     
    So if you want to crowd source for another poll, I’d rather you did it sooner rather than later. 
     
    Purely from my own selfish perspective I understand, but some others out there might be in the same boat.

  42. Linda's Back says:

    Need Yes / White Paper to come out strongly on Unionist claims that Scotland’s deficit  would need 17% increase in taxes (Herald this morning) or Hootsman take on CPPR / IFS report on £3.4 billion annual deficit.
    http://archive.is/ARNis

  43. orkers says:

    Down in the North of Scotland last week and a plethora of Saltires were on view.
    Gardens, town halls, cars, everywhere in general ………..nary a ‘butchers apron’.
    It’s spreading southwards into Inverness and Aberdeen although not quite so much in the latter.

  44. Morag says:

    Davidson came out with a line that seems to be increasingly common.  Take a point that the SG has already answered at some length, skip over the tenuous and biassed “refutations” of it that the No campaign have come up with, assume these ridiculous objections have negated the SG’s answer, and simply assert that the point has not been answered.
     
    Better No:  We don’t know what’s going to happen about X.
    Scottish government:  Detailed and well-referenced explanation of what is going to happen about X.
    Better No:  Rubbish, we sneer at your response.
    Better No:  The Scottish government won’t tell us what’s going to happen about X.
     
    Rinse and repeat.

  45. M4rkyboy says:

    Dont know if this has been posted but Lord Ashcroft has released a report today concerning Scotland
    http://lordashcroftpolls.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Camerons-Caledonian-Conundrum.pdf

  46. Rev, in the first poll you said we were new to this polling lark, and therefore still learning. I have to say the second poll, IMHO, cannot be faulted. You have come on leaps and bounds. Any “lessons learned” from the second one?
    Well done. 

  47. themadmurph says:

    Rev Stu,
    Pedant time, but “it presents an quite drastically untrue picture ”
    shoorly shum mishtake! *fx – Sean Connery voice-over*

  48. Luigi says:

    Morag,
    No worries there.  Too many rinses and the message fades.  Diminishing returns and all that.  People (including soft NO’s and especially undecideds) have already lost most of their patience with BT’s nonsense (still waiting for a positive reason to vote no), and…………oh what is that appearing on the horizon?  It’s a shiny White paper.  Oh dear! 

  49. Jingly Jangly says:

    Linda’s Back
    seen that in the herald email they send me,I don’t get to read the articles or buy the paper.

    However does the article mention that the UK Deficit is higher and therefore they would have to raise taxes higher than 14% to clear the budget deficit.

    Did they mention that most if not all the urrent Scottish Deficit would not occur in an independent Scotland as over half about 4.5 billion is interest payments on the UK’s Debt and the remaining 3bn or so is taken care of by savings in other areas such as defence and accruing all the taxes raised?

    No they didn’t I wonder why!!!!

  50. indy dan says:

    I have been onto BBC Scotland for a while now about highlighting the views of an ever expanding internet media.

    When the likes of GMS on BBC radio or Newsnight Scotland are reading out newspaper headlines of the day, then I seriously think that sites such as Wings over Scotland or Newsnet Scotland should be added to the list that they currently use.

    After all if they can use newspaper headlines from ultra-right wing papers like the Daily Mail or the Scotsman, then what is so wrong with using sites like Wings, who probably have more readership than most printed media.

    So I am looking for a bit of back-up here. Get in touch with BBC Scotland at Pacific Quay and urge them to give sites like this more exposure for a more balanced view of what is happening in Scotland.

  51. Morag says:

    The amount of editing that can be pulled in things like this is immense.
    Basically, every time the camera angle changes, you have to assume that they’ve cut something out.
    They even take shots of the presenter looking thoughtful to splice in.
     
    Well, that’s true, it’s always been true and it probably always will be true.  You really, really wouldn’t like it if they broadcast the raw footage.  All the er-um stutters, the off-topic ramblings, the struggling to get the point across.  And it would take three times as long.
     
    I did a couple of interviews for TV documentaries a week or two ago, and the camera crew were at my house for nearly four hours.  I don’t know how long the screen-time for the segment will be but if it’s as much as ten minutes I’ll be astonished.  I spent some time going over material a second time to give them a better chance at finding the right words to fit together, and some more simply gesturing at the flash cards I’d produced for possible fill-in material.  At one point the producer asked to review a section of footage and said, “yes, that’ll do, that’ll cut.”  As I waved them off, I said, I hope you’ve got the material you need to put the argument together.  And they assured me they believed they had.
     
    Now I have no idea whether they’ll do it well or badly, or whether they’ll try to push an agenda I don’t agree with when they assemble the segment.  The best I can do is howl in fury retrospectively if they misrepresent me.  There is, however, no alternative but to let them get on with it and hope for the best. One thing is certain.  If I tried to produce my own unedited video clip to get my point over, I’d fail miserably.
     
    The fact is that the editing process is necessary, and it always affords an opportunity to skew or misrepresent the material, to someone with an agenda.  And they’ll still be doing it in the 23rd century, apparently.  http://www.midwinter.com/lurk/synops/074.html  But it’s only an opportunity.  The film is going to be edited, and going to look edited, whether the producer is at it, or not.  The simple fact that we can see it’s edited cannot be taken as evidence that the material is manipulated to an agenda.
     
    Get annoyed about actual misrepresentation all you like.  But if we get into the mind-set of assuming nefarious intent every time the camera angle changes or someone edits out a cough, that way lies paranoia and madness.

  52. Papadocx says:

    Linda’s back 10:15
    check out bella caledonia. Gives a very good reference to these two suspects.

  53. Luigi says:

    I say give STV the benfit of the doubt, for now.  The truth will out eventually  if when YES starts to ease ahead of NO.  If five points clear suddenly appears barely one point clear for YES, then STV will be shown up big time.  Keep a copy of this graph for future screaming!

  54. Illy says:

    Morag:
    “Davidson came out with a line that seems to be increasingly common.  Take a point that the SG has already answered at some length, skip over the tenuous and biassed “refutations” of it that the No campaign have come up with, assume these ridiculous objections have negated the SG’s answer, and simply assert that the point has not been answered”
     
    It’s called “the big lie” repeat it enough times and hope people start to believe you.

  55. Ginger joe says:

    Outwith the dodgy graphics, did anyone else find it rather odd that Davidson seemed desperately keen to get Canavan or the SNP to make a comment on republicanism? Odd considering his own previous and fairly persistent attacks on Royalty, or has something happened down Govan way that I’m unaware of? Or perhaps he just thinks ‘Baron Davidson of Cessnock’has a nice ring to it.

  56. Bubbles says:

    I’m sorry to go O/T quite so soon but forewarned is forearmed as they say. There’s a debate tomorrow evening in Dundee billed as Blair v Blair. I’m going. Anyone else?

  57. MochaChoca says:

    The absolute whole point of presenting the data (any data) as a graph is make it clear and concise, and should not be open to interpretation or ambiguity.
     
    It’s better not to bother with a graph at all if the one you produce doesn’t acheive this.

  58. Gillie says:

    Did STV fully understand the data, because if they didn’t it creates the impression in the viewer’s mind that Scotland Tonight don’t really know what they are talking about. 
     
    I wonder what the average IQ of a TV presenter is? I assume it can’t be that high

  59. Illy says:

    Morag:
    It’s always good to know how much things can be edited to fit an agenda.  I could probably put something together that would look like Alex Salmond wanted Scotland to stay in the Union if I really wanted to.

    Making people aware of this is just like making people aware that their history books are biased.  It makes people start to think which side the editor’s want to look good. You then get into issues of trust and reliability, rather than “what’s on the telly is what they actually said”. And then you can start throwing facts in rather than soundbytes, and how those facts were attained.

    All put together, people knowing more is a good thing.

  60. macdoc says:

    STV are biased the fact that they aren’t as bad as the BBC, Telegraph and Daily Mail does not make them impartial. Its an illusion of impartiality.
     
    The day that Scotland’s economics are correctly discussed and we have to listen to any one of our British Nationalists having to explain why Scotland’s figures for the past 30 years have been much better than the UK’s and explain why they have continually tried to make out Scotland a basket case, too wee, poor stupid etc is embedded in the Scottish psyche. 
     
    When we get balanced coverage of how oil is a massive asset and any nation on earth would be happy with this hugely profitable resource instead of the nonsense we constantly hear about volatility and practically worthless etc. How Scotland unlike any other country on earth has such little influence over taxation policy and only 50% power over expenditure. 
     
    When interviewers do not allow Unionist politicians to spout the absolute nonsense that they get away with day in day out. When have we ever been led by a hugely positive story (There are thousands) about independence and watching the Britnats squirm while getting pulled up for their obvious bullshit. Equal representation is all fair and well but when the broadcaster chooses the topic and its own unique unionist spin its not impartial its hugely biased.  Why are unionists never pulled up when stating we don’t know about currency, monarchy , NATO etc. Why do these topics even make the forefront of the news. I would thing income distribution and wealth inequality would be far more important topics not to mention government priorities (i.e Scottish government with full powers will always act in Scotland’s interests better than Westminster). 

  61. A2 says:

    I’d like to optimistically think of it as lulling them in to a false sense of security.

  62. Morag says:

    Oh yes, we need to know not just how much things can be edited, but how much they are edited.  All the time.  Practically every single interview short of things that are truly live on the court-room steps or beside the horrible train crash.  And these will be edited later.
     
    We need to know that this is normal, professional television, and that it is necessary to produce a programme with high production values that people want to watch.  That there’s nothing unusual or underhand about the mere fact of editing.
     
    We need to know this so that people don’t go off on major paranoid rants when they notice a camera angle changing or something cut out of a speech, assuming that this in itself is proof of nefarious, agenda-driven manipulation.  It’s not.  It’s proof of professional TV producing at work.
     
    What needs to be examined is the slant of the finished product, and whether or not it is true and honest.  It’s going to be edited, either way.  The question is, has it been done with a straight bat or not.  You can’t infer anything one way or the other simply by noticing an edit in a film,

  63. Morag says:

    Macdoc, that is a great post.  Puts it in a nutshell.

  64. Taranaich says:

    Could it be that the graphic folk mistook 17% for 7%? 37 divided by 5 = 7.4, so they could’ve rounded it to the nearest. Even accounting for that, though, it’s pretty appalling: how could even someone with the most basic understanding with maths fail to twig that 17 is almost half of 37, which is a long way from a fifth? Even visually you should be able to tell that 17 should reach a lot further up in comparison to 37. As you say, Rev, this simply isn’t on. This is one of those rare cases where Hanlon’s Razor is misleading: if this was an honest mistake, then it has led to a completely fallacious extrapolation which went unchallenged by nobody in the production staff
     
    But what I find even worse is the idea that they lump the DKs in with the Yes group, and saying that it would, effectively, still not be enough. That’s really rather inflammatory, and if I were a DK, I’d be rather offended STV decided to effectively make my vote for me and say it would be wasted.

  65. Gillie says:

    I believe the ST graphic was more cock-up than conspiracy.  My overall impression was that the ST crew had a very poor handle on the WoS polled data.  
     
    Numeracy is not everyone’s gig, mind you literacy is certainly not Ian Davidson’s strongest card.

  66. Morag says:

    Taranaich, I’m not sure they actually did that.  It was implicit in the way the graph was presented, but not explicit.  Stu manipulated the image to demonstrate the point.

  67. Molly says:

    Is someone like Ian Davidson not just there to stymie the debate?For gods sake whatever you do, don’t let Dennis draw a picture of how Scotland could be because then the viewer will start to think about it and maybe start to envisage other possibilities – and then no matter how often we say borderposts,border posts, border posts , folk won’t believe us.

  68. Edward says:

    I’m inclined towards the idea that the graphics are more towards sloppy artwork, than any bias. Perhaps we should crowd source payment for a graphics artist for STV ;)

  69. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Pedant time, but “it presents an quite drastically untrue picture ””

    WHAT ON EARTH ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, MAN?

  70. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Ah, posting too fast for me here. I see RevStu has analysed the alternative-origin idea, though I can’t say I actually understand his diagram completely.”

    The distorted versions of the “No” column I’ve posted beside the “Yes” and “Don’t Know” columns are the heights those columns would be if they were in correct proportion with the “No” column, based on the origin being the bottom of the label.

  71. tartanpigsy says:

    Quick post re the RBYES, it’s a great thing basically YES are getting free advertising, NatWest are also using the Yes as are Lucozade, they were at a lot of festivals with a big 8ft high Yes last summer.
     
    Keep wearing the bunnets, caps, tees, jackets.
    Yes IS the answer ;)
     
    O/T Does anyone have a POV on picketting the Scottish Baftas regarding media bias, it’s on the 17th November, Radisson Blu, Glasgow.

  72. Juteman says:

    @Bubbles.
    What time is the ‘2 Blairs’ event?

  73. call me dave says:

    Dinnatouch 
    laughing my socks off!
     
    I found the sock puppets a few months ago, just brilliant.  This map of Scotland thing is an old chestnut between me and the better half, but when she had a look I saw her smile and say ‘all right I believe it’. 
    :-)

  74. Morag says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Gillie.  I’ve seen too many science students cock up horribly when presenting data in graphical form to have any illusions about how much it’s possible to screw up that exercise.  They need to go and read How to Lie with Statistics.
     
    I very much doubt that “let’s misrepresent the bar lengths to make the Yes position look worse than it is” was in anyone’s mind when they were creating that graphic.  It’s more insidious than that.
     
    We saw that bar chart, and immediately thought, “what the hell?”  Because we approach the data from a certain perspective, and our perspective immediately flagged up to us that the graph was misleading.
     
    The production team and the graphics designer himself, didn’t think that.  It didn’t occur to them that a “gee-whizz” misleading graph had been produced.  Because it sat well enough with their existing perspectives.  So they didn’t notice, or if they thought it might be a bit off, didn’t think it was anything that mattered enough to correct it.
     
    It’s the existing, underlying pro-union assumptions of the vast majority employed profesionally in the media that are causing this shit-storm of negativity and slant.  And that is a lot harder to counter than overt, conscious manipulation.

  75. Gillie says:

     
    I’ve got a great title for a new book;
     
    “Lies, damned lies and Info-graphics”
     
    Could be a best seller.

  76. Morag says:

    The distorted versions of the “No” column I’ve posted beside the “Yes” and “Don’t Know” columns are the heights those columns would be if they were in correct proportion with the “No” column, based on the origin being the bottom of the label.
     
    OK, I get it now.  If you’d posted distorted versions of the “Yes” and “Don’t Know” columns to show the heights they should have been, respectively, I’d have understood the first time.  So the Yes is pretty close, but the Don’t Know is still significantly too short even if you include the grey label parts of the bars.
     
    I blame employing glitzy artistic types fixated on look and feel rather than people who actually understand the numbers they’re dealing with.
     
    But that obscures the more basic point, which is that every time this happens bar none, the mistake portrays No in a better light than reality.  Not because they’re doing it deliberately, but because a mistake made which reinforces their existing bias simply isn’t noticed.

  77. Morag says:

    I’ve got a great title for a new book;
    “Lies, damned lies and Info-graphics”
    Could be a best seller.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Lie_with_Statistics

  78. Famous15 says:

    The STV and BBC bias may not be totally unionist. Both emphatically asserted that Deans trouble wa he was carrying out Union business in company time.  He was a full time official of the union so no problem there. The issue was that he worked for the Labour Party in company time and they signally failed to mention this. The greater bias is toward labour. No bias is what I pay for folks!

  79. scaredy cat. says:

    Re the RBYes advert. I saw the Better Together version in Boots. It was in an  advert for anti- wrinkle cream . I must admit to doing a double take when I saw it. Thought Boots were nailing their colours to the mast, but no. It seems the phrase ‘better together’ has alternative uses.

  80. Gillie says:

    Apparently this is a true story;
     
    Spare a thought for Sean Conway, 32, from Cheltenham, England, who is swimming from Land’s End to John O’Groats. He is having a tough time in Scottish waters because due to the visual impact of BBC weather maps on TV he thought Scotland was much smaller than it actually is.

  81. Gillie says:

    Morag says:
    29 October, 2013 at 11:24 am
    I’ve got a great title for a new book;
    “Lies, damned lies and Info-graphics”
    Could be a best seller.
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/How_to_Lie_with_Statistics
     
    Bummer, someone has beat me to it. 

  82. I think it was deliberate, if you take the don’t know stack and bang in on top of the yes stack it should be higher than no stack, going by this graph though the don’t know stack on top of the yes stack visually is still lower than the no stack even though the number is higher.
    If I was a wee Unionist bod I’d have done it like that just out of spite.

  83. Cath says:

    “Thought Boots were nailing their colours to the mast, but no. It seems the phrase ‘better together’ has alternative uses.”
     
    Boots summer slogan last year was “YES” though :-)

  84. velofello says:

    One step at a time folks and the WOS poll being discussed on STV is a big step forward. My eyes and thoughts were on the numbers not the graphic display.
     
    The first time I say the RBS advert I had to take a second look as my first impression was a YesScotland advert, big white Yes on a mid-blue background. No bad thing to add visibility to the word Yes.

  85. gavin lessells says:

    Indy Dan
     
    L
    Ken MacDonald on BBC Scotland “Headlines” 0900 Sundays has already started reading out web site headlines. To be fair he covers both sides.
    He did cover the WOS Panelbase results and an interesting debate followed
    Unfortunately, 0900 on a Sunday is hardly peak listening time.Think the programme is on iplayer also.
    He needs all the support he can get before he is Foulked!

  86. Cath says:

    “He is having a tough time in Scottish waters because due to the visual impact of BBC weather maps on TV he thought Scotland was much smaller than it actually is. “
     
    LOL. Poor Sean. To be fair I was very surprised to find out what percentage of the British landmass Scotland is as well – 37%. With 8% of the population…

  87. desimond says:

    O/T
    Project fear…your aw doomed : Theresa May

  88. FATFAWKIRKFK says:

    Graphics aside, that was not an interesting debate – it was an infuriatingly biased affair in which the empty self serving rhetoric of unionists was allowed to dominate what will no doubt help to influence many of the electorate. 

    Scotland Tonight allowed Davidson to ramble on while they stopped Canavan from answering the vacuous points made by Davidson. 

    I made it 3 minutes 17 seconds to Dennis, and 4 minutes 20 seconds to Davidson. That is a huge amount of extra airtime in a <10 minute debate, and is par for the course. 

  89. Morag says:

    I wonder if there’s any way to get it through to them what they are doing here.  The misleading bar chart, the huge difference in speaking time awarded, the interruptions for the Yes speakers while the No speakers are allowed to rabbit on unchallenged, and so on.

    Drilling down further, the constant and repeated free passes given to the unionist speakers when they come out with pure mince like Davidson was doing, to the point where that mince is often repeated as if it was fact.  Meanwhile the Yes speaker hardly gets his mouth open before the presenter is jumping down his throat, and even if he does get a point over, this is often commented out in a way that makes it seem to have been refuted.

    I’m not convinced they’re doing it on purpose, in a conspiratorial sort of way.  I think their underying biases are such that they don’t realise what they’re doing.  To them, the No campaign are the comfortable, establishment people who are to be allowed to speak unimpeded, while the Yes campaign are the dangerous insurrectionists who have to be challenged at every turn.  It’s so ingrained they don’t even realise they’re doing it.

    The trouble is, they’re so self-satisfied I don’t think it’s possible to make them understand what shockingly bad journalism this is.

  90. Albert Herring says:

    Cath
    And Scotland’s exclusive economic zone is larger than rUK’s. 
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Scottish_eez.PNG

  91. Ken500 says:

    Even the ArchBishop of Canterbury knows they are lying.

  92. GP Walrus says:

    If you do a stacked column chart in Excel by taking a uniform 10% off each number to get equally-sized bottom boxes to put the labels in you get something awfully like what STV produced.

    Of course you’ve then slashed each figure by a % which increases the smaller the figure is is, more than 50% in the case of the 17% DKs. Also since you took 10 off the No and a total of 20 off the Yes and DK, when you add Yes and DK it comes to much less than it should relative to No. Simples!

  93. Morag says:

    That was discussed above and Stu’s graphic seems to suggest that even if you do that the DK bar is still significantly too short.

  94. GP Walrus says:

    It depends what % you use. when I did it with 10%, the bottom boxes came out a little too high but the rest looked right. So if you just sort of crop off the bottom box to make it better sized for a title … I suspect graphics artists are very happy to do this sort of thing. 

  95. G H Graham says:

    Despite solid qualitative polling evidence, STV chose to distort the graphic representation to imply that it is impossible to achieve a YES result at the referendum if ALL the previously undecided voters ticked YES at the polling booth.
     
    Mentioning WINGS is certainly helpful but STV continue where possible to distort the truth which is regrettably still a normal type of behaviour of the pro Unionist Scottish/British media.
     
    Scottish TV is so reliant on English production/output, it’s understandable that they cannot find it in their hearts to support independence because the funding/content of Scottish TV/film media is so thin, there’s not even a soul.  

  96. MochaChoca says:

    Cropping or using a raised baseline is reasonable for things like price fluctuations as this presents enhanced detail of changes over time.
     
    A raised baseline on a simple graph like this, where the total of the columns should sum out at 100% is worse than useless.

  97. Richard M says:

    The graph is still skewed even the way you have corrected it. Take a look at the difference between 37 and 45. Simple arithmetic tells us its a difference of 8. Now subtract 8 until you get to the 17 – you get 21, 4 points higher. The 37 bar still isn’t close enough to the 45.
    This is why bar charts look pretty, but aren’t very useful.

  98. Heather McLean says:

    Not only RBS who are using YEs as part of their logo/advertising. I spotted a big YES on the side of a Virgin Media van the other day!

  99. Morag says:

    It would be fine if the bars were the right height.  It’s not rocket science.

  100. MochaChoca says:

    Can’t believe I’ve actually spent time doing this, but……
     
    the baseline is actually 12.6 points below the base of the bars (or 6.3 points below the labels) taken from there the graph is accurate, but obviously rather misleading.
     
    Like G H Graham says, the graph renders a situation which appears to make a yes result impossible.

  101. G H Graham says:

    Folks, pedantic corrections of these graphs is pointless because the real story here is that STV distorted the graphical representation of the poll to imply that a majority YES result is impossible.
     
    Conclusion: The Scottish media continues to lie to its viewers/readers in an attempt to maintain the political status quo.
     
     

  102. HandandShrimp says:

    If it sounds like a hopeless cause, consider the case of our capital. In 1997 the Conservatives won just 11 of the 74 seats in London, 19 points behind Labour in the popular vote. A city renowned for its liberal tendencies was given a degree of self-­?government, and promptly elected, then re-­?elected, an anti-­?establishment leader from the left. But what happened next?

     

    Ashcroft’s summary on what are the Tories to do in Scotland. It tickled me that there were pages of guff about being engaged and fighting for Scotland and all the rest of it and then he concludes with a little homily on “our capital”. The Tories do not get it and I think they are pathologically incapable of getting it.   

  103. MajorBloodnok says:

    Just watched the introductory Scotland Tonight package and thought it was pretty good.  They didn’t mention the poll was crowd funded though (hello Mum!).
     
    Also, to be even talking about the importance of left wing views on a main stream news programme is pretty interesting (I didn’t know about the Maxwell book although I see Bella has an article on it) – I couldn’t be bothered listening to the debate part as Davidson was on though.
     
    A fantastic poll however and certainly puts WoS on the map.  And encouraging to see where Don’t Knows fit into the mix – particularly nice to see Curtice agreeing that the DK are clearly open to persuasion to vote YES.  Brilliant stuff!

  104. Taranaich says:

    @Morag: Taranaich, I’m not sure they actually did that.  It was implicit in the way the graph was presented, but not explicit.  Stu manipulated the image to demonstrate the point.

    D’oh, thanks for that, Morag: I didn’t get the chance to see the show last night, so I’m just going by after-action reports. I clearly didn’t read closely enough, argh. Nonetheless, at least I can take solace in that the implication, at least, was there.

     I very much doubt that “let’s misrepresent the bar lengths to make the Yes position look worse than it is” was in anyone’s mind when they were creating that graphic.  It’s more insidious than that.

    Exactly! And that’s the essential problem: reasonable people have a duty to be vigilant and careful when it comes to representing data. Heck, I did it just now when I mistakenly thought the 5x graph was shown on STV: I’m just so used to the media pulling this nonsense that I was careless. It reinforced my existing bias about STV’s pro-union bias – even though I do my best to look at things as analytically as possible, sometimes I get lazy. And I fully appreciate being pulled up on it when that happens, even if I get in a funk.

     To them, the No campaign are the comfortable, establishment people who are to be allowed to speak unimpeded, while the Yes campaign are the dangerous insurrectionists who have to be challenged at every turn.  It’s so ingrained they don’t even realise they’re doing it.

    People really don’t like it when things they’d taken for granted are incorrect or based on a false assumption. They think that makes them bad people, and naturally they reject it: how can we be wrong about this when so many people I know think the same? But they aren’t bad people at all: being wrong doesn’t make you bad, nor does ignorance of the facts. Only continued rejection and misrepresentation/misapplication of the facts is wrong.

    For so long, the UK WAS OK. It was the one under attack from the Germans, the the Russians, the IRA, al-Quaeda, and other outside forces. It was easy to think that, bad as the establishment was, it was better than the alternative. Independence was an attack against the “safety” of the UK. But with all the information at our disposal now, it should be clear that the UK is absolutely not the “safe” option in the slightest – if it ever truly was.

  105. GP Walrus says:

    G. H. Graham: “Folks, pedantic corrections of these graphs is pointless because the real story here is that STV distorted the graphical representation of the poll to imply that a majority YES result is impossible.”

    Apart from idle curiosity, the point was to reason how this might have occurred due to graphical processing by the numerically challenged. I follow the school of opinion that this was an irritating but essentially innocent cock-up. I agree with Morag’s comment on editing that we should be careful of paranoia and simply accept that processing invetiably occurs. The same applies to stats presentation. If they were actively trying to distort they would have done more of that in the presentation or simply ignored the whole thing. Either would require a conspiracy, whereas dumb-old innumeracy is something that is tolerated, even encouraged, amongst artist types irrespective of opinion on the constitutional question.

  106. The Rough Bounds says:

    An awful lot of chewing the cud here. The fact is STV applied dirty tactics: end of story.

  107. G H Graham says:

    GP Walrus is just plain wrong.
     
    STV is as corrupt, biased & shallow as the BBC, The Herald, Scotsman and all the other shite news media in Scotland.
     
    Look beyond the arithmetical rubbish they broadcast & consider why there’s a collective of people in your media who are delighted to brainwash its viewers.

  108. Heather McLean says:

    Bubbles says: “I’m sorry to go O/T quite so soon but forewarned is forearmed as they say. There’s a debate tomorrow evening in Dundee billed as Blair v Blair. I’m going. Anyone else?”

    Yep! I’ll be there!

  109. Roger Mexico says:

    It’s probably worth pointing out that if the anti-Yes campaign really are that cunning and clever down to the lowliest graphic designer, then you really all ought to give up and leave the running of Scotland to these super-beings.
     
    Actually the reason for this not-unusual graphical cock-up is pretty obvious.  If you look at the height of the columns including the base and the figures at the top, then they are in proportion.   The computer has generated them at the appropriate size and then a bit has been portioned off to make the base and a bit at the top replaced with the percentage figure.

  110. Bubbles says:

    @ Heather
     
    I’ll be sure to look out for you. I look nothing like my avatar btw.

  111. Truth says:

    @Illy
     
    I’d just like to point out that immediately after RBS launching the Yes Yes Yes campaign several months ago, Stephen Hester was replaced as chief of RBS by the Govt.
     
    Make of that what you will. I know I suspected the front page adverts on all the “Scottish” newspapers stating and repeating the word “Yes” wouldn’t go down well with unionists.

  112. Juteman says:

    @Bubbles.
    I found that link. Unfortunately that’s too early for me, i’ll still be working.

  113. Bubbles says:

    It is a stupid time, I agree. Perhaps it’s by design.

  114. Morag says:

    Actually the reason for this not-unusual graphical cock-up is pretty obvious.  If you look at the height of the columns including the base and the figures at the top, then they are in proportion.   The computer has generated them at the appropriate size and then a bit has been portioned off to make the base and a bit at the top replaced with the percentage figure.
     
    You reckon?  Seriously?
     
    I mean, yes you may well be right, but that is just so completely catastrophically stupid that I think my head just exploded.

  115. James Kay says:

    @Roger Mexico
     
    Thank you for that observation.
     
    Assuming it to be correct, do you think that this is evidence of ignorance or conspiracy?

  116. Morag says:

    If he’s right, I think it’s evidence of graphics designers being so utterly unconcerned with the actual information they’re imparting that they should be taken out and shot.

  117. Roger Mexico says:

    Morag/James Kay
    I measured the columns on the screen (with a ruler – really high tech stuff here) from the top of the figure to the bottom of the base, and they came out proportionate to the nearest percent.
     
    It’s pure ignorance of course.  Furthermore if you tried to tried to point it out they’d probably get very indignant and say of course it was fair – they’d taken exactly the same amount off each column! 
     
    It probably wasn’t even a proper graphic designer, all media outlets have had big staff cutbacks over the last decade plus and the rise of ‘multi-skilling’ often leads to people doing a lot of jobs at once that they don’t really understand but can disguise this fact with technology.  Even if it was someone with the right training, the main aim is to get something that looks good rather than is accurate.
     
    Numeracy is not a quality that is much prized in the media, indeed in these pseudo-populist times it is rather regarded with suspicion and being a bit geeky and possibly leading to letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

  118. Ross says:

    As much as I think the poll data is really interesting and important does nobody else think having Don’t Knows in there skews the results?

    If you want to know what way the “Don’t Knows” are actually more likely to swing why not ask them the question that’s going to be asked on the day – YES or NO?  Having Don’t know in gives them an easy out.

    People who say don’t know are, in my anecdotal evidence, likely to be Yes voters but don’t want to out themselves as Yes is currently behind. Obviously, that doesn’t necessarily correlate to secret ballot opinon poll but nonetheless it’s what’s out there on the ground.  Outside the chatterbox of activists, No people are more vociforous than Yes, in my view.

  119. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “If you want to know what way the “Don’t Knows” are actually more likely to swing why not ask them the question that’s going to be asked on the day – YES or NO? Having Don’t know in gives them an easy out.”

    It’s a year away. Some people don’t know. I’d say it’s rather important that we acknowledge the fact that they exist, and that they DO plan to vote one way or the other.

  120. Ross says:

    I agree Rev, I think some people genuinely just don’t know and don’t really want to plump for one side or another at this stage and it’s important to mark that.  However, i also think many of them if they had to vote tomorrow would get out and vote.  They would have to make a decision.  If we really want to know what way they’re swinging it’d be good to put them on the spot.

  121. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “However, i also think many of them if they had to vote tomorrow would get out and vote.”

    Almost all of the ones we refer to in the poll data would. They’re all from the 8/10 likely or more category. But right now, they don’t know. Asking them again more threateningly isn’t going to make their mind up.

  122. Morag says:

    I measured the columns on the screen (with a ruler – really high tech stuff here) from the top of the figure to the bottom of the base, and they came out proportionate to the nearest percent.
     
    Oooh, I suppose it’s too late now to hope RevStu might go back and fiddle with the graphic to show that?

  123. Morag says:

    They would have to make a decision.  If we really want to know what way they’re swinging it’d be good to put them on the spot.
     
    That’s exactly how a lot of the bigger No majorities happen in opinion polls.  They say, if the referendum were tomorrow, which way would you vote.  And the swithering classes think, well I don’t really know so if I had to vote tomorrow I’d probably vote for the status quo.
     
    Most of them probably won’t do that next year though.

  124. Ross says:

    “And the swithering classes think, well I don’t really know so if I had to vote tomorrow I’d probably vote for the status quo.”

    At the end of the day, then, they’re swinging to the No side currently.  That’s that cleared up.
    It’s absolutely not threatening to ask a Yes or No question.  It’s finding out the truth. 
    Absolutely think WoS is doing a brilliant job, by the way, and i’ll be funding the next one.



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