Everything you always wanted to know about guns in Africa…

23, October 2007

Some blatent self-promotion here. The Journal of Public Health Policy has just published a special section on gun violence in Africa. I helped to organise it (but Maria Valenti did most of the work) and contributed an introductory article. Unfortunately, my article wasn’t my best because I had a list of topics that needed to be covered, and that’s not good for narrative structure. But the other articles are very good, and present new data on a subject that’s very difficult to study.

The articles are currently available for free on the Journal’s homepage, here. Get them while you can! They are: 

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The Observer re-drafts the universe with untruth and distortion

8, October 2007

On 7 October 2007 readers of The Observer were greeted with the headline that “Forensic DNA tests ‘reveal traces of Madeleine’s body on resort beach’” (the article was written by Mark Townsend and Ned Temko and is available here). At first glance this latest installment in the long-running saga of the disappeared child promised a follow-up to the previous stories that some of her DNA had been found in her parents’ car.

Unfortunately, the article inadvertently reveals something much more disturbing – the cynical exploitation of the case by a shyster given credibility by The Observer (and other UK newspapers). The ‘forensic tests’ were carried out by a crank using a secret ‘quantum’ device with a secret energy source. It’s the sort of thing you would expect to find in a science fiction novel,  and has no relationship to science. But the Observer reported this gobbldigook as news, and in doing so relied upon  multiple untruths and distortions, which are outlined below. Read the rest of this entry »