2nd October 2009 at 01:00
Be in it to win it amp; stats cut to the chase

Be in it to win it

The machinations of public policy can seem to the outsider to be a random and arbitrary thing. Certainly, those colleges that missed out on capital funding find it hard to see the master plan for administering Solomonic justice.

So why not put dumb luck in its rightful place at the heart of policy? Such seems to be the thinking behind one idea floated by the Association of Colleges' capital task group, which mooted the idea of a lottery for new college buildings.

Sadly, the idea - which in view of the straitened circumstances could perhaps have been run by an organisation called Camelittle - failed to get beyond a brief mention in some background papers.

It's a shame. According to legend, one of the first lotteries i s supposed to have financed the Great Wall of China. FErret understands that plans to build a college visible from space have been scaled down now, so surely It Could Be Us.

Stats cut to the chase

FErret has no truck with those who say you can prove anything with statistics - there are uses and abuses and it should be possible to tell the difference. But in some cases, it's all a matter of perspective.

Take, for instance, this attempt by The National Young Volunteers Service to show that young people are unfairly maligned.

Far from being the feral beasts of popular imagination, 85 per cent said that neither they nor their friends carried knives and 86 per said cent they had never shoplifted anything worth more than pound;5.

Or from the other point of view, 15 per cent of them wander round in armed gangs and 14 per cent have nicked high-value items while the others just rob the pound stores blind.

"Young people fight back against negative stereotypes," news of the survey was headlined. So presumably they just stabbed the negative stereotype in the guts and made off with pound;4.95. Jokes, bruv!

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