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October 21, 2014

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Jeremy Duns

'In pointing out his errors, Jeremy is not so much defending the Establishment as attacking Owen.'

No, I'm doing neither - I'm criticising Owen Jones' extraordinarily sloppy research methods, as well as his journalistic credibility and integrity. But I'm not attacking him personally. No doubt he's a lovely man.

'Let's grant, for the sake of argument, that he's right - that Owen is using wrong or misleading claims, possibly deliberately, to stir up hatred.'

But I haven't argued that. I have argued that he's using wrong and misleading claims, and regarding his 'correction' on his blog I wonder if it might even be deliberate - but I suspect if that is the case there, it's to hide the fact that he doesn't even read sources he cites for more than a few minutes or check them against other sources, and that in his book he presents data from 2004 as if it must be current today and so on. But he does the same in his 'correction'. The only two explanations I can think of for that is either that, with this drawn to his attention, he has been even *more* careless and shoddy in his 'correction' than he was when making the original errors, or that he has been deliberately misleading in it to hide the embarrassment of the original errors. Can you think of any other plausible possibility for it?

Jeremy

SpinningHugo

"just look at Richard Littlejohn, Toby Young or James Delingtwat"

Oh dear.

Chris, if that is the best you have got, you haven't got anything.

Nick Reid

I'm not entirely sure what your point is; that influential people with many tens of thousands of Twitter followers & regular slots on the BBC shouldn't have some of their more prominent claims fact-checked ?

In the Owen Jones case the claim that must struck me was the one about the connections between FTSE100 companies and UK Parliamentarians. OJ's claim was that the UK had far and away the most connections between business & politics in the developed world and that this was not a good thing. I won't bother with whether it was 46% or 92% but it was a large number.

This claim has been much touted by OJ and, I assume, will become oft-repeated by Labour MPs and anti-capitalist campaigners for years to come.

However to anyone with a modicum of interest in business affairs the claim looked propersterous from the start. FTSE100 companies just don't tend to have MPs on their Boards. I've only had a casual glance to check some of the bigger names but Sir Michael Rifkind at Unilever is one of only ones that springs to mind.

And as for MPs being major shareholders ? We'd know if an MP owned 10% or more of a FTSE100 company. They'd be one of, if not the, the richest MP in the Commons. As it is not even Lord Sainsbury owns 10% of Sainsbury.

So not only has OJ demonstrated remarkably clumsiness & carelessness with his facts but he has also shown that he doesn't really know much about business. Which is worrying if he intends to critique it properly.


Owen Jones

Hello! Just to say that any errors in the book are corrected when they are found. None of them are intentional. All books have errors in them, which can be found if subjected to intensive scrutiny. Most books, of course, aren't subjected to this level of scrutiny. Thomas Piketty's book - an academic work by one of the world's leading economists, rather than a polemic by, well, me - was, famously. Christopher Hitchens' book on religion, 'God Is Not Great', was as well - see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Is_Not_Great#Critical_reception

(Not that I'm comparing myself in stature to either of them, before the inevitable response - but it's a mini version of both).

And that's all fair enough. Me - and my brilliant editors - did our best with errors, but we were already doing a thorough comb through, which will appear on the eBook and in hardbook (then paperback) print edition.

Just on specifics. CAAT gave me figures on the arms trade originally which they said still stood. The DESO has subsequently become the DSO (with an almost identical budget), and their most recent estimate (and more recent than what is quoted in the book) for state subsidies for the arms trade is around £700m, though they stress that's a conservative estimate. That's one of the things being clarified. The point still stands, of course: hundreds of millions of pounds of public money subsidises the arms trade.

Duns has a very strong objection to the LSE's Democratic Audit report, and is furious that I treated what is - after all - a report published by one of the world's leading universities as entirely reliable. The political scientists who wrote it point out that political science always relies on data that is after the time in question, and that the idea things have changed significantly since is laughable. But the book will now make it clear the time frame of the evidence they've used.

Not all political polemics even have sources. Take James Meeks' superb book on privatisation - 'Private Island'. There's no sources in it at all. I've done my best to have these sources so people can read the original for themselves, or done my best to integrate in the text e.g. which report something is from.

I actually welcome a level of scrutiny not subjected to most other political writers. It will mean the next hardback prints and paperback editions will be proof read to a degree that very few books are. Good!

But it's pointless me not discussing Duns' motivations. A few months ago, he attacked the journalist Mehdi Hasan, who I defended. I was then warned privately by a senior lawyer that Jeremy Duns would respond by subjecting my work to extreme scrutiny. I responded fair enough, I have nothing to hide, but he suggested any writer would find it uncomfortable to have their work scrutinised to such an extreme degree. But as I say - I think the total eradication of any and all errors is a good thing, even if those who help in the process do not have the best motives.

Dave

Jesus Owen, do you want an extra shovel for that hole?

James

"...it's pointless me not discussing Duns' motivations."

Why? If there are factual inaccuracies in your book, there are factual inaccuracies in your book. You can dispute the significance of these, certainly, but speculating about the "motivations" of the person who pointed them out doesn't help you. It only looks like an attempt to smear that person.

SpinningHugo

OJ's response reveals the problem.

So, if it were the case, as OJ states above, that the problem with the Democratic Audit claim about the connection between top 50 companies and MPs is that the data relied on was a bit out of date, that would be one thing.

But that isn't the problem. The problem is that it is completely far-fetched, bearing no relation to reality at all: as Nick Reid points out above.

I don't really expect OJ to apply the same standards to his work as an academic would. I do however, also expect him to properly accept errors and not come out with obfuscatory rubbish like the above.

Richard

Any book will have some errors - ok sure. What most people mean by that is that there will be some typographical or transcription errors, or unintentional ambiguities etc.

What no one means is that it is normal or acceptable for a non-fiction author to go to a source of information and clearly misrepresent it. The way that the statistic on the ownership of rural land is distorted is not a case of a slip that anyone could make across a book full of facts. It is the sort of mistake that no reasonably intelligent and diligent person could make. The source and the book are miles apart and wouldn't you know it, the book makes a far stronger claim.

If these were a collection of minor errors, this defence would hold water. But they are not. Also, if these were simply random errors, then there would be a smattering of mistakes that both strengthen and weaken the claim when taken over from the source to the book. Now I accept there could be a reporting bias in the errors we've been made aware of, but the fact remains that the litany at the moment all fall in the 'favourable to the argument' column.

A final note - the best way to not impugn someone's motives is not to mention their motives. The 'I'm only bringing this up to say how silly it is to try to influence you with it' line is obtuse and only plays in to the narrative that there is something fishy about the way Jones puts an argument together.

Phil Beesley

Everyone is encouraged to network nowadays. It is not just minor media celebrities who get a job owing to who they know. State agencies and every self help guide tell you to exploit your "networks".

At the hierarchical level, networks rarely overlap. Cafe waiters (waiting for an acting job) rarely share the same social circles as regular theatre performers. If you look at the age when jobbing actors report success at IMDB or similar sites, most of them were in their 30s before receiving notice; this happened in a profession where networking is a way of life. Only the striking [sic] boys and girls have a continuous film/TV employment record from their teens. (I do not have statistics; perform your own homework.)

Unclubbable scientists and engineers or whoever simply aren't invited to events. Invitations are determined by somebody who understands club rules. If invited, never rock the boat if you wish to come back. Acknowledge that the person with the great ideas you want to hear may have a face which does not fit.

Medics communicate differently -- "please meet Jo, a contrary thinker" -- usually means bastard. In medic speak, it means "smart bastard".

IT people have created their own networks and stars, outside of the people running huge companies. File all under "bull shit, pending", aside from the people who really changed the world. Or somebody who fixed a problem for your business.

If you operate in the "network" world, understand the limitations. Or don't go there.

Jeremy Duns

‘Just to say that any errors in the book are corrected when they are found.’

The problem is that they aren’t. You issued a ‘correction’ on your blog for your 46%/92% error, but in doing so you continued to misrepresent it and even introduced a new error. You claimed it was a mere ‘typo’, and presented the 2004 finding as being current in 2014, which isn’t even something you did in the book.

‘In the text [of The Establishment], it’s written that “forty-six of the top fifty publicly traded firms in the UK had a British parliamentarian as either a director or a shareholder.” (Or 92%). But the percentage point was missing from the original stat - it’s 46%. This stat is scandalous enough, because the nearest OECD (or developed) country that comes close is that well-known beacon of clean politics, Italy, at 16%. But it’s important to clarify that, in our case, it’s 46%,’

You either still have’t bothered to read the primary source for this finding or don't wish to clarify it properly because to do so would make clear how very wrong it is, or both. It’s important to clarify that it is *not* 46%. Note your use of the present tense. It wasn’t even 46% in that single study in 2004. Faccio found *in 2004* that 46% of the top 50 (ie 23) publicly traded firms had a director or a shareholder *controlling more than 10 percent* who was either a British parliamentarian, *a spouse, child, sibling or parent of a British parliamentarian*, *a friend of a British parliamentarian*, *someone known to be associated with a political party*, and quite a few other people, too. You have not mentioned any of those factors, which are so broad as to be almost meaningless. For instance, Faccio didn’t define what she meant by people ‘known to be associated with a political party’. Known by who? Associated in what way? Party membership? I can’t quite believe you still don’t understand this.

‘All books have errors in them, which can be found if subjected to intensive scrutiny. Most books, of course, aren't subjected to this level of scrutiny. Thomas Piketty's book - an academic work by one of the world's leading economists, rather than a polemic by, well, me - was, famously. Christopher Hitchens' book on religion, 'God Is Not Great', was as well - see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_Is_Not_Great#Critical_reception’

This isn't intense at all. Someone has simply looked at a few figures in your book and repeatedly found howlers. Intense would be a thorough fact-check of your entire book, although that should also be standard practice, of course. And polemics don’t convince if the writer doesn’t even read sources they cite for more than 5 minutes or check them, and they’re riddled with errors a GCSE student might make. For example, claiming that newspapers who reported circulation figures in the last six months experience a fall in circulation every six months.

‘And that's all fair enough. Me - and my brilliant editors - did our best with errors, but we were already doing a thorough comb through, which will appear on the eBook and in hardbook (then paperback) print edition.’

I suggest you issue corrections on your blog, too, to make these clear to anyone who has already bought your book, which is a lot of people. You thought it worth doing for one error, after all. Now several others have been pointed out, one just this morning in a comment to my blog. And even that correction of yours needs a serious correction! You repeatedly claim to be taking this seriously, but you don’t seem to be at all. It looks at the moment as though it's just lip service and you want to brush this all away by attacking my motives and quietly changing all the howlers that have been spotted without admitting you made them or explaining how you made them.

‘CAAT gave me figures on the arms trade originally which they said still stood.’

Why didn’t you check them? You didn’t even check if DESO still existed! That would have taken all of a few minutes. Basic journalism, this. Several of CAAT’s 2004 figures were also guesswork, by their own admission. Why not make it clear that their estimates were from 2004, but according to them still stood, if that were so?

‘The DESO has subsequently become the DSO (with an almost identical budget), and their most recent estimate (and more recent than what is quoted in the book) for state subsidies for the arms trade is around £700m, though they stress that's a conservative estimate. That's one of the things being clarified. The point still stands, of course: hundreds of millions of pounds of public money subsidises the arms trade.’

Many of your points might still stand, but I’m not taking issue with your arguments. I’m taking issue with your research methods, and with your integrity when challenged about them. So far, you’ve claimed on the one to take all this very seriously and to welcome corrections, while on the other have accused me of being fixated, issued a ‘correction’ that still contains several errors and introduces a new one, and now accuse me of being politically motivated.

‘Duns has a very strong objection to the LSE's Democratic Audit report, and is furious that I treated what is - after all - a report published by one of the world's leading universities as entirely reliable.’

This is just such a shoddy way of working, Owen, and is precisely what I’m criticizing. You’ve just assumed that because it’s in something from the LSE it must be true. That’s not how serious journalists research. Their source is even on the page you cite, in a hyperlink! It is also misleading to write ‘According to a 2012 study’ as you did in The Establishment when the information is from 2004. What if they had discussed political connections in 1867? Would it still have been fine to say ‘According to a 2012 study’? Of course not, and it isn’t here. You left the impression that it was valid in 2012 and that is nothing to do with the LSE. You also left the impression, in at least two interviews and now in your ‘correction’ on your blog, that the finding applies in 2014.

‘The political scientists who wrote it point out that political science always relies on data that is after the time in question, and that the idea things have changed significantly since is laughable.’

Is it? I am very reliably informed that there is currently just a single MP who has a directorship in the FTSE350: Malcolm Rifkind, Unilever. And perhaps you can try to find out how many parliamentarians in 2004 have a 10% controlling share in a top 50 company. If it's so laughable, present your evidence for the situation in 2014, then.

‘Not all political polemics even have sources. Take James Meeks' superb book on privatisation - 'Private Island'. There's no sources in it at all. I've done my best to have these sources so people can read the original for themselves, or done my best to integrate in the text e.g. which report something is from.’

Wow. You don’t get an award for including endnotes! Especially if they're as shoddy as so many of yours are. And you don’t seem to have read the originals of many of these, or if you have you haven’t read them properly.

‘I actually welcome a level of scrutiny not subjected to most other political writers. It will mean the next hardback prints and paperback editions will be proof read to a degree that very few books are. Good!’

This is simply not true. The comments sent to me by Henry don’t constitute a thorough fact-check of your book. Nowhere near.

‘But it's pointless me not discussing Duns' motivations. A few months ago, he attacked the journalist Mehdi Hasan, who I defended.’

I criticized Mehdi Hasan on Twitter. You defended him by falsely insinuating I was anti-Muslim. I was actually defending a Muslim, Maajod Nawaz, from an attack by Mehdi. Maajid was no less impressed by your tactic than I was. You played the man not the ball then, and you’re doing it again here.

‘I was then warned privately by a senior lawyer that Jeremy Duns would respond by subjecting my work to extreme scrutiny.’

But I haven’t. Someone else has sent me this stuff, and it is not anywhere close to ‘extreme scrutiny’. Really: I've worked as an editor, proof-reader and fact-checker. And as I explained in my blog piece and to you in my email, which you’ve so far ignored, I’m not personally motivated against you, and this isn’t about that: I’m capable of separating issues. Neither is this politically motivated. As I also explain in my blogpost, my politics are broadly similar to yours. I was very critical of Johann Hari for similar reasons: I want arguments to be based on solid ground. You put it well on Twitter in a reply to someone: ‘It’s crucial to be factual and accurate when challenging state and corporate power.’

‘I responded fair enough, I have nothing to hide, but he suggested any writer would find it uncomfortable to have their work scrutinised to such an extreme degree. But as I say - I think the total eradication of any and all errors is a good thing, even if those who help in the process do not have the best motives.’

Another accusation of bad faith, which is itself bad faith. If you have nothing to hide and value accuracy as much as you claim, I would expect you to publish on your website or elsewhere a full list of all the errors that have been found in The Establishment so far, what they have been corrected to, and an explanation for why you made them. You could start by correcting the very misleading ‘correction’ you already published on your blog.

Jeremy

Deviation From The Mean

I can kind of see both sides here. Owen Jones makes the point that some foundational errors are made, even in academia, this is why we have peer reviewing.

Owen points out that in political commentary this peer review process is biased, some are subject to more peer review than others. Owen also claims that the errors don't change the fundamental argument, again in peer reviewing we point this out. It is a critical analysis. It appears that peer reviewing in political commentary simply serves an interest. i.e. is unscientific.

So I think to resolve this problem all political commentary that hasn't been subjected to a complete critical analysis should have to come with a big health warning. This way all those who are getting away with little or no scrutiny will be made accountable.

Some maybe Jeremy Duns can write another article asking why some political commentators get away with little or no scrutiny? Maybe Own Jones can compile a lits of those currently getting away with it.

AllanW

I refer the Honourable Gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago ...

http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2014/10/the-establishment-a-review.html?cid=6a00d83451cbef69e201b8d07ac239970c#comment-6a00d83451cbef69e201b8d07ac239970c

Deviation From The Mean

But just to clarify,

the peer review process itself appears to be utterly found wanting. So Jeremy Duns also has a case to answer.

Bob

Dillow, Duns, Owen... You're all politically-motivated twats. It's all about scoring a point for your tribe.

An Alien Visitor

The more pertinent issue in regard to parliamentarians is how many are on the board of directors. That would establish a link to major shareholding.

Richard

I'd like to point out to Deviation from the Mean that treating something like a paper in the natural sciences is not the only way that it can be fairly scrutinised. Indeed the approach in academic philosophy is different and other forms are appropriate for journalism and non-fiction.

I think Duns is being very cautious in only putting valid criticisms and not attacking Owen personally. I think accusations of bad faith are now justified due to the number of mistakes and the quite plausibly deliberate obfuscation in OJ's responses.

I think it is quite clear that what Jones is doing with his public comments on this debate is part of a strategy of deflection and damage limitation. In this he clearly isn't adverse to playing dirty with claims of Duns' fixation or political motivation. Clearly that's ad hominem - to discredit Duns and garner sympathy for the victimised Jones.

Deviation From The Mean

"is not the only way that it can be fairly scrutinised."

I would probably beg to differ. I suspect yours is an issue of practicality.

It seems to me that the whole peer review/scrutiny process in the political arena is ad hoc, biased and unsystematic. It is more than found wanting. I think attempts to argue that thorough and correct peer reviewing processes don't apply to politics are a deliberate obfuscation.

Churm Rincewind

@Chris. You seem to be saying that because the Establishment is careless with its facts, it's OK for its opponents to be equally careless.

But then you go on to say that "if you believe the worst about Owen, then it corroborates those of us who fear that we live not in a meritocracy but in a celebocracy, in which fame - however ill-merited - begets more wealth and acclaim and in which intellect and honesty are unimportant"

I can't connect these two views. Nor can I understand why your idea of a "celebrocracy" where fame trumps intellect and honesty is contingent on believing "the worst about Owen".

orbital_10

"Being stupid little shits is a good career move in the Establishment - just look at Richard Littlejohn, Toby Young or James Delingtwat. It would be odd, therefore, to single out Owen."

I don't think this has happened at all. Duns was provided a link from the book by someone else in this instance, and this *kind* of infers that he's been going after 'one of us' when he completely ignores 'them'. Maybe they have a case to answer; there is absolutely nothing stopping someone calling out things that they've done wrong as well, and people do so on a daily basis.

It's just that in this case, what Jones actually did was pretty bad. 46/50 sounds like a lot, but it turns out that it's half of that, and only at a particular time quite a while ago. That 'typo' changes the story a lot, and that hasn't been acknowledged at all. Just turns out that people are more willing to defend a man because of what he stands for than criticise his ability to fact check properly.

Nick Reid

"The more pertinent issue in regard to parliamentarians is how many are on the board of directors. That would establish a link to major shareholding."

It would be the job of an afternoon to do this research.
From the top: Shell (none), HSBC (none), BP (none), Vodafone (none), Glaxo (none), BAT (none), SAB Miller (none), Diageo (one lord), BG (one lady), Rio Tinto (one lord).

So in top ten UK companies not a single MP, and three members of the House of Lords, none of whom had previously been an MP (all ex civil servants).

An Alien Visitor

Shell is not immne.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10112675/Lobby-row-Tim-Yeo-replacement-Sir-Robert-Smith-has-66000-shares-in-Shell.html

Ok if we triangulate shares, with directorships and other (e.g. cash for questions) and apply that to current and past Mp's I think a more rounded picture would emerge. Someone should do that research. But research of that nature goes beyond facts and requires investigation. I also think that we shouldn't just focus on major shareholding as the sums can be significant anyway. See attached article.

Icarus Green

Just to say, this is the most hilarious comment thread I've seen in a while.

Its also quite sad.

On the one hand you have the usual cast of conservative nutjobs frothing at the mouth in their feigned indignation using the tried and true logical fallacy of latching onto one error and using that to impinge on the character of the author and therefore the rest of the book's facts (see Piketty v Chris Giles).

On the other hand we have the morose spectacle of a guy that seemingly spends a large chunk of his waking day investigating other writer's works in his 'spare time'. Quite the hobby. I've never seen someone put so much effort, thought and time into fact checking and investigating other writers (in his case, usually his competition in the thriller genre) despite, apparently, not being paid to do so or having no professional reasons to do so.

On the subject of Jones book, I hope Jones will stick to his word and make any corrections as necessary. I doubt the overall argument of the book is harmed much by the use of forty-six v 46%. I'm actually surprised that the conservative machine hasn't found more errors in the book to be honest since its come out. I have no doubt they literally have losers like the guys above poring over the book with a fine comb all hours of the day looking for any lines of attack.

Perhaps to settle this matter now however, Mr Dun can enlighten us with a percentage figure on the number of factual errors in Jones book compared to the total number of presented facts and compare this to other books in the political non-fiction category.

And then again, maybe he could compare this figure to the percentage of total sales of this book in one month to the total sales of all his books in the previous year.

I'm sure he'll find the time, somehow. (He's probably already done the latter).

BDStanley

‘Duns has a very strong objection to the LSE's Democratic Audit report, and is furious that I treated what is - after all - a report published by one of the world's leading universities as entirely reliable.’

It strikes me as a little ironic that Owen Jones is being so uncritical in his acceptance of the output of one of the leading British universities in a book which purports to lift the lid on The Establishment.

Luis Enrique

this is a weird argument. You start by asserting Owen's errors are minor* then you say that even if we assume the worst that just supports the idea of an establishment where position (in this case celebrity) matter more than competence. What, is Owen part of the establishment? So it doesn't matter if your the son of Northern socialists, if you are a vocal but popular critic of the establishment your popularity makes you part of it? So by definition any anti-establishment figures have to be unpopular? And the self perpetuating closed elitism bit is hard to stand up Owen is hardly an example of the elite replicating itself.

I am also sorry to see Jeremy, who I have never encountered before today, being accused of being politically motivated for no good reason that I can see.

* the one about companies having MPs on their boards whereas the source said 'or shareholders with some sort of connection to an MP' looks like rather a howler to me, but that's another point

KB Player

I find this a puzzling post from Chris Dillow who is normally lucid and has a short way with shoddy arguments. He's one of the bloggers I am glad has kept on blogging.

In an earlier post you quote from Owen's Establishment as if he had something worth saying, so I take it you've read and think well of the book.

http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2014/10/narcissism-hubris-and-success.html

So your second paragraph indicates that you think the errors Duns pointed out aren't particularly important.

But the rest of the post is hypotheticals where Owen's book is false, but so what - that's the state of things these days where famous ignoramouses get published because that's how the market works and so our society is rotten.

Well which one is it - this book was worth publishing and had something valuable to say? or it was a meretricious work put out by money hungry and fame battening publishers for our rotten society?

Also, will you quote this book as an authority in the future?

Jeremy Duns

Christ, 'Icarus Green' - is that the best you can do? You've just slung a lot of ad hominem nonsense at me. I don't go out of my way to investigate people, in fact - usually I just see something someone else has pointed out, on Twitter or elsewhere. In this case, someone else looked at Jones' book and sent the stuff to me. Why not try addressing the substance here, which is not me or the person who found the errors, but Jones' errors and research methods? Crazy idea, I know!

I've no doubt The Establishment has outsold all of my books. The fact it's a bestseller means it's influential and means it's more likely that these errors - there are several if you bothered to look, or even read the discussion above - will be believed and probably cited by others for years to come if Owen Jones doesn't correct them properly and publicly. Anyone who's already bought the book is unlikely to know about corrections in later editions.

If someone found errors in my latest book, which is non-fiction, I'd thank them for it, make sure they were corrected wherever possible, put something on my website to indicate the problems and what I'd done about them, and consider why I made the errors so I could avoid making them again. Pretty obvious, I'd have thought! Owen claims to agree, which is why he wrote his 'correction' on his blog. But it is itself riddled with omissions and errors.

Jeremy

lisa muggeridge

Its a book that describes the establishment as the right wing press. Er. Slight factual inaccuracy in taht most punitive benefit and social policy since 1997 originated in the Grauniad and the New Statesman. Dont need a magnifying glass for taht. Owen routinely engages in defamation and lying to cover his tracks and his book doesnt need a magnifying glass to see the holes. He has defamed me for years because I politely approached him to discuss the flaws in his first book, and has resorted to validating my stalker to do so. His cod politics came on the back of exploiting austerity to publicise his frist book, steering anti cuts feeling into pro-labour nonsense, even though ALL the benefit cuts, social care cuts and social work cuts that originated in deaths were always subject to political consensus and even though IDS is essentially delivering Labour designed asset based welfare. He is a nasty little turd and resorts to all establishment tricks to get away with it. I was just a single parent who desperately needed to discuss political consensus. The poverty related malnutrition I suffered means that I dobnt have time to fanny about with having the centre left wall around political discourse maintained and I have literally had to refuse toa ttend events because his defamation of me as a stalker was so damaging. He has put my daughter at risk to perpetuate it. He doesnt seem to know epople can see and rants about people 'doubting his intentions'. We don't measure harm by intentions and after his latest book, at least he concedes the principle that media narratives have an effect, something he denies strenuously when challenged on the deliberately misleading labour narratives he peddles. Don't bother with him. Glaring narcissism is pointless to argue with.

lisa muggeridge

Basically in his fantasy he was there to lead the docile proles he was scared of and he is an establishment well connected poppet, and always was. I find it odd that he has deliberately chosen books which highlight this and then denied that he could possibly be questioned. But then the establishment believing themselves infallible is hardly news.

lisa muggeridge

By the way- most books are edited BEFORE they are published and people pay money for them.

Owen Jones

Well, an interesting discussion above(!) Just to say though - I meant what I said above. I welcome corrections. I want to be as accurate as possible. So as well as updating the book, I'm going to post going through edits to errors, updating info, and so on. Who knows. Maybe it will catch on.

Jeremy Duns

Owen, I'm delighted to hear it and will look forward to seeing the posts. A very easy way to start is by posting an update to the 'correction' you put on your blog the other day. It's currently wrong in several ways: the figure was discussed in a 2012 paper but it is from a 2004 finding. It is much wider than you say, as it includes family members of politicians, friends of politicians and even anyone 'known to be associated with a political party'. And that finding does not apply to 2012 or 2014.

Jeremy

Richard

Perhaps Owen, you'd enlighten us as to who spotted the 92% error and when in your detailed account of errors and corrections?

You have claimed it was spotted before Duns pointed it out but for some reason hadn't been corrected in the ebook. Then of course you put out the incorrect correction blog, which attempted to minimise the error as a typo, repeated the misrepresentation of the date of the study and ignoring the fact that the definition of an MP in the original study was as wide as a barn door.

So despite already being aware of this issue and taking corrections seriously you hadn't at that point really investigated it by reading the primary source. Or you had at you were covering up.

I'd also like to hear about who at Penguin fact checked the book. You seem to occasionally refer to thorough fact-checking by the editorial team, which clearly has failed rather dramatically on the numerous instances cited. As every time you mention them, you seem to be apportioning some of the blame on them, I'd like to know if any real fact checking actually happened or if that's just something you've been saying.

lisa muggeridge

Establishment poppets eh?

lisa muggeridge

Just to be clear, media narratives have an effect and the railing of anti-cuts feeling into pro-labour narratives was very damaging. A book claiming that establishment narratives only exist in the right wing press, when ALL punitive benefit, social care and social work policy originated in the left wing press, is a glaring error and one done by a wilfully misleading Jones. Who resorts to defamation, lying and narcissistic deflection when discussing the effect of what he sells. He does not feel he has to discuss this with the chavs he claims to champion BECAUSE he is an establishment poppet. Luckily he is an employee and not a freelancer and it can be taken up with his employer.

lisa muggeridge

I will remind you here, and you still won't respond. I am entitled to use the twitter id of a media figure to illustrate a critique of how political consensus is maintained. Defamation is an offence, and when you wilfully defame to deflect criticism you demonstrate how the establishment get away with it. Which luckily is the central premise of your Hari like book and very useful.

Icarus Green

@Lisa Muggeridge - this is satire I hope?

@Jeremy Duns

I don't claim to speak for Owen Jones but I think any fair reading of Owen's earlier and newest comment suggests that he has no problems making corrections and welcoming other criticisms to his book.

Where you completely lost me is your overtly aggressive, irate and condescending response to Owen's earlier comment. Anyone reading your comment and still coming away with the feeling you were rationally engaging in the process of open enquiry must have had a lobotomy. Why are you so emotional about a factual error in a book? (that the author admits too!)

You sidestepped my query about whether this book is any more error ridden than any other books in the genre, which is probably the best way to judge this.

In this specific case it was actually a typo. If Jones was just making stuff up, he wouldn't have chosen the 46 number (which happened to be the percentage not the absolute number) and used a random number.

It then wasn't even enough that Owen agreed to change the book and publicly notified it but to then hysterically bang on about how his correction wasn't good enough (despite him linking to the report and screenshoting the data) and apparently "left the impression" (in your eyes) that the data was from 2012, when his post merely mentions 2012 as the year of the report, is complete la la land material.

You honestly sound deranged.

Your response also pathetically sidestepped the point Owen made about DSO, the successor organisation, standing by their estimates and having in fact released new data showing the scale of arms handouts mentioned in the book as if, being anything, probably underreporting the problem.

Therefore, any objective person reading your comment and his must get the impression that either:

(a) Owen slept with your mother
(b) you're a conservative
(c) you have psychological problems

Obviously I'm being tongue in cheek with the first, and I take you at your word that you have no political agenda on the second (although I can't comment on your friend that asked you to do this).

Its just curious to me that when presented with facts in a book, any book, your general recourse would be to go out of your way to fact check them. I mean...who does that? Is that what the kids are taught do these days? Fact-check their textbooks? Maybe this level of skepticism about leisurely reading material is normal these days.

Obviously we find out about the errors you find when poring over these things (and your self written wikipedia entry proclaims these). We are not privy however to the countless hours and innumerable books you spend time on when no errors are found (which is probably the vast majority of the time).

Finally as a general point and not a specific criticism of you. I'd like to ask why liberals are held to the magical 100% bulletproof standard. Fair enough we set lofty ideals and goals; but the idea that our books cannot have any errors, or that our policies can't be partisan or serve our constituencies in any way, or that we cannot have any vices as people, or that its possible we don't enjoy paying taxes either even if we believe we need to pay them...is ridiculous.

PS I wouldn't apologise to this shower Owen. Most of ths is mere feigned indignation. Hope the (corrected) book sales hold up!

lisa muggeridge

I wish it was satire, but unfortunately his defamation of me has created a real risk to me and my daughter and I need it to cease. As I am a singl parent on 150 a week, and I dont have the establishment behind me to make it cease and Owen continues to defame me for using his twitter id to illustrate an eloquent critique of how he and his friends exploited anti-cuts feelings into labour political collatral. I also do not feel that pointing out that a book which suggests the media establishment is the right wing press, when it is clearly demonstrable that ALL punitive benefit policy and social work and social care policy originated in the left wing press since 1997, and that asset based welfare was a labour invention even if delivered by IDSm, could be described as satire. It is in fact true and also demonstrable. I do think the endless circuits over minor errors in a badly researched book, when the glaring error is that he omits HALF of the media establishment from his analysis could be described as satire. And I am pointing out to MrJones that I would like him to cease his defamation of me because I dont have an establishment platform to challenge him or the financial resources to do so.

lisa muggeridge

I also think Owen's attacks on anyone who criticises the effect of what he does, because his intentions are above question, are quite alarming. When he has actually just spent 4 years making sure the discussion of political consensus on austerity couldnt happen, and the cost is not only lives, but (as in europe where the crisis of the centre left preceded a rise in fascism) a political vacuum with fear manifesting in a resurgence of a very scary popopulism(UKIP etc), people have a responsibility to point out that. As his book is clearly about how media narratives supercede democracy, I find the idea that the media narratives he sells should be above question quite odd. That I am a single parent with a complex and articulate critique of the relationship between our social policy, our economic system, and the people his first book claimed to champion, and that that critique was enough to warrant outright abuse, defamation and putting me at risk and laughing it off, is concerning to me and suggests that Mr.Jones is not quite the honorable lad he appears. The premise underpinning his book, that ONLY the right wing press constitute the establishment is a glaring error i would have though. BUt I dont think I have a penis and enough establishment connections that I would be allowed to voice that and have that criticism taken seriously. WHich is at the very least a demonstration fo teh central thesis of his very dodgy book.

lisa muggeridge

Then again, the outright misogyny of the culture he is part of is an open secret anyway.

Icarus Green

I said it before, and I will say it again.

This thread is legendary.

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