The Great Debate UK

from MacroScope:

The octopus and the economists

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What do an eight-legged creature in an aquarium in Germany and 74 economists have in common? The consensus view that Spain would claim the World Cup -- until the economists, as they so often do, changed their minds.

worldcup.jpgIf World Cup 2010 goes down as one of the most unpredictable and exciting competitions in recent history, bringing underdogs Holland and Spain to the final showdown, what was hopelessly routine was watching so-called expert opinion converge around the safest bet. At least among financial professionals, who have done so well of late predicting the future.

When Reuters first surveyed economists and forecasters in May on which team would be kissing the golden grail on July 11, 2010  in South Africa, it made for interesting reading. Spain would take it -- by a narrow margin, it has to be said -- followed by Brazil, Argentina and England. Improbable probability analysis, perhaps, but not boring.

Then as various teams got knocked out of the competition -- former champions Italy, France, and England -- in a miserable and well-deserved defeat to Germany, Reuters re-polled these same economists and a few more for good measure. And that's when they fell flat. Those brave forecasters slipped back to the easy choice, and as a group they picked Brazil. We all know what happened to them.

from Photographers' Blog:

How a simple tentacle became a media star

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Sometimes I hold seminars about journalism – photo journalism in particular of course. Most of the time I start talking about the journalistic rule number one.

What is rule number one? Journalism works very simply. When a dog bites a man – this is not a story. Dogs bite men. Unless the man is Prince Charles or the President of the United States, nobody is interested. But the opposite case - when a man bites a dog – that's a story. The story will be even bigger if the man who bites the dog is the U.S. President and the dog belongs to Prince Charles.

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