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 Post subject: any answers
PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 19:06 
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Motorcarnage
Paul Smith and Safe Speed - the Self-Exposure of a Crank

By George Monbiot.

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Paul Smith and Safe Speed - the Self-Exposure of a Crank

By George Monbiot.

Published on www.monbiot.com, 22nd December 2005.

On Tuesday, I drew attention in the Guardian to the activities of a group called Safe Speed (www.safespeed.org.uk). Safe Speed claims it is a “road safety” campaign, but its purpose is to create a lobby against both low speed limits and their means of enforcement. Unsurprisingly, its site is linked to all the usual boy racers: the Association of British Drivers, Pistonheads, It’s Your Duty etc. It looks to me like a classic case of greenwash: a lobby group claiming to stand for one thing, but in reality standing for its opposite.

The man who runs it, Paul Smith, claims to be able to prove by statistics that speed cameras, far from saving lives, make the roads more dangerous. His “data” have been widely circulated by the speed lobbyists, and widely believed by them. They help to provide justification for organisations like Motorists Against Detection (MAD), who have been pulling down, burning and blowing up speed cameras.

After my article was published, Paul Smith challenged me to a debate. I was, of course, happy to oblige. The Right Hook, a discussion show on Ireland’s Newstalk 106, provided the forum for us (at 6pm on Tuesday 20th). Smith laid out his case, then I asked him one question: has he published his figures in a peer-reviewed academic journal?

I asked this because it is the only question which counts. Almost every day I’m approached by people making wild claims – that chocolate causes cancer or elderberries cure AIDS - and the only means I have of deciding whether such claims should be taken seriously is peer review: have they survived the scrutiny of independent experts in the field? The experts are chosen not by the researcher whose work is in question, and not by themselves, but by the editors of a journal whose reputation depends on the scientific accuracy of its contents.

Smith’s answer was more revealing than I could have imagined. Not only, he said, had he not sought to publish his “data” in an academic journal; but he had actually been asked by the leading journal in the field – Accident Analysis and Prevention – to submit his work for review, and he had not taken up the offer. Why not? Because, he said, he didn’t “have time”. He then went on to boast that he had spent 10,000 hours compiling his website.

His “data” are there, on safespeed.org.uk. Emailing them to Accident Analysis and Prevention would have taken 10 seconds. As formal peer review is the only means he has of demonstrating that his “results” might be worthy of discussion, you would have thought that submitting them was the first thing he would do, not the last.

So why won’t he submit his “data”? It seems to me that there can be only one reason: he fears exposure. He appears to have begun with the conclusion he wanted to reach – that speed cameras must go – then devised a statistical method which would produce the goods. This is the standard approach of cranks and quacks of all descriptions. I suspect he knows that an independent expert, appointed by an academic journal, would immediately see through his method and expose it as false.

So next time you come across someone – and there are plenty in the motoring lobby – who cites Mr Smith’s work as “proof” that speed cameras make the roads more dangerous, just ask them why he won’t seek scientific publication of his results.

http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2005/12 ... f-a-crank/


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 19:12 
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I've deleted the duplicate thread.

edit: also moved to 'Challenges'.


Last edited by Steve on Tue Aug 21, 2007 19:34, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 19:14 
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This is old news.

Monbiot later said something along the lines that many a visionary is derided as a crank.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 19:52 
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I have suspended speedkills' account as the moderating team believe he is a previously banned poster.

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"Show me someone who says that they have never exceeded a speed limit, and I'll show you a liar, or a menace." (Austin Williams - Director, Transport Research Group)

Any views expressed in this post are personal opinions and may not represent the views of Safe Speed


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 Post subject: Re: any answers
PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 19:56 
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Very quickly:
article wrote:
Safe Speed claims it is a “road safety” campaign, but its purpose is to create a lobby against both low speed limits

What’s wrong with arguing against limits which are set to unreasonably low thresholds?

article wrote:
…and their means of enforcement.

Yeah, the campaign calls for more trafpol.

www.safespeed.org.uk/manifesto.html

article wrote:
Unsurprisingly, its site is linked to all the usual boy racers

Exactly how is the campaign linked?

article wrote:
They help to provide justification for organisations like Motorists Against Detection (MAD), who have been pulling down, burning and blowing up speed cameras.

It doesn’t mean ‘we’ condone these activities or are linked in any way.

article wrote:
He appears to have begun with the conclusion he wanted to reach – that speed cameras must go – then devised a statistical method which would produce the goods.

If only this person would put as much airtime into the very significant, understood and greatly under-appreciated phenomenon of Regression to the Mean. How biased he must be!

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 20:07 
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PeterE wrote:
I have suspended speedkills' account as the moderating team believe he is a previously banned poster.


I think it rather evident. We already had "speedkills" in past too. :roll:

I have work reviewed by my peers. It not mean what some think it mean either. We have one drug which we removed licence. It had "rave peer reviews" at time. Time revealed side effect which forced withdrawal of said licence. Another company face mega legl bills over side effect which not evident from trials. The medication received peer reviewed accolade at time. But nothing fool proof und as new evidence come to light on anything.. we have to act on the new information. :wink:

Peer reviewed data led to "trendy teaching method". It failed as we now know. They now return to "tried/tested/true" method of the past .. re times table chanting/teaching to read via artificial phonetics etc.

Peer review?

It equate to "whim of moment" in reality. It prove very little as it ephemeral.. based on opinion of the day. It superseded always by further research. It how we develop our world for better or try to anyway. :wink:

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 23:11 
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The data for the case claiming global warming has been peer reviewed. By many sets of peers, who found (and support) many different results.

Is peer review the final answer... I think not.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2007 21:30 
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Mike_B wrote:
The data for the case claiming global warming has been peer reviewed. By many sets of peers, who found (and support) many different results.

Is peer review the final answer... I think not.


Precisely. Peer-review was a trendy idea which carried gravitas back in 2005. Like many trends it has been gradually discredited....

PS. Who is this numbskull we've suspended? Moonboot is now a proven hypocrite and his supporters are cranks.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2007 09:17 
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And this from Monbiot, a man of principle, who campaigns against car use, and then bought a car...

"But I need one!"


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 29, 2007 10:08 
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Monibot appears to live in that orwellian world inhabited by so many guardianistas, ecomentalists and ex soviet bloc politbureau members.

all are equal but some are more equal.

power to the people!! *




* - By people we of course mean those of a guardian pursuasion, members of new labour, supporters of the anti globalisation cause (whatever that is) and all friends, family and worshipers of Bono.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 15:27 
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PeterE wrote:
I have suspended speedkills' account as the moderating team believe he is a previously banned poster.


Or did they get suspended because they challenge the claims of Safe Speed that speed cameras do not save lives?

In other words, is Safe Speed a bias and one sided forum when facing the truth, that speed cameras do in fact save lives?


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 17:20 
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crw wrote:

Or did they get suspended because they challenge the claims of Safe Speed that speed cameras do not save lives?


There are other posters on the site that do not agree with and argue against Paul's findings that have not been banned. Have you any information which would contradict the mods reason for the ban?

crw wrote:
In other words, is Safe Speed a bias and one sided forum when facing the truth, that speed cameras do in fact save lives?


No, I do not believe so. What Paul and members of the forum have done is examine the assertion that speed cameras save lives and found that it is untrue, particularly when the system is considered as a whole.

Speaking only for myself, I originally came to this site when looking for a forum discussing advanced driving topics. At the time I most definitely had a personal bias against cameras, I do not like being told what to do by a simplistic blunt instrument. I recognised this bias within myself and was sceptical of the claims made on the site precisely because I agreed with most of them. Reading the information on this site and over time having done a little research and examination of Paul's analyses I became happy that the case for rejecting the current use of speed cameras was a strong one. Even then it is only within the last few months, you can see when I joined the site, that I have become fully comfortable that the only way forward is to campaign for complete removal of speed cameras in order to progress road safety in this country.

I don't know if you are familiar with the work of Richard Dawkins at all? He is a geneticist, in one of his books "Climbing Mount Improbable" he explains that a genetic change can occur which, being of benefit, is replicated though succeeding generations. Further changes may occur enhancing the survival characteristics of the first change, take for instance the development of the eye. Now there are many solutions for how to build an eye some better than others but once one path is embarked upon and proves to be beneficial it is not possible for another path to be chosen even if the end result would be a better eye. Going backwards to make a different change is not a positive survival promoter so does not happen, though of course the species may just die out instead.

Speed cameras may have been a good thing at the time they were introduced and may still have a positive effect in certain narrowly constrained situations if the entire system is not considered. What Paul's work has convinced me of is that they are at best a limited solution and at worst a complete dead end.

We fortunately are not constrained by evolutionary imperatives, at least when it comes to road safety I hope, so we can reverse a change and find ourselves a better direction towards saving lives. I do not know that the ideas on this site will be the best path but I do know that the one we are on is not working.

Lastly I am just a member and supporter of this site and campaign, I have nothing to do with the administration and running of it other than the normal input via suggestions which anyone can make.

I have thought long and hard about supporting Safespeed and examined many of the government publications and reports referenced on this and other sites.

If I have a bias it is that the human brain is a far finer and educable tool for assessing variable conditions than the comparator circuit in a speed camera.

Perhaps you do not have confidence in your own brain or perhaps you do not think anyone else's brain is to be trusted.

In the first case you insult yourself in the second you insult the human race.


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crw wrote:
PeterE wrote:
I have suspended speedkills' account as the moderating team believe he is a previously banned poster.

Or did they get suspended because they challenge the claims of Safe Speed that speed cameras do not save lives?

Nobody has ever been suspended from this forum for challenging the views and claims of the Safe Speed campaign.

People have been suspended for telling lies, adopting a grossly confrontational tone and making ad hominem attacks on other forum members.

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"Show me someone who says that they have never exceeded a speed limit, and I'll show you a liar, or a menace." (Austin Williams - Director, Transport Research Group)

Any views expressed in this post are personal opinions and may not represent the views of Safe Speed


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