Friday 31 December 2021

PAS Second Milliongate: "Press Moment" Over, Now the Public Can Know Again?


A few weeks ago the PAS tried to make out, in what they termed a "press moment", that the facetious Martin Foreman (FLO based in Scunthorpe Museum) had made the PAS database's "millionth record". The Guardian's journalist (Rachel Hall) showed no interest in checking the facts, simply repeated what she'd been told to write, but Paul Barford had been quicker off the mark and had already written before this about the approaching millionth record.... He went to the database to check and pointed out that all the evidence on the (official British Museum-run and public-financed) database showed that there was some considerable doubt whether what the Guardian had reported had been said at the Treasure report launch was in fact at all true. In response the PAS.... actually HID the information on the front page of the number of records. They hid this information from the public that pays for it. They hid the information that contradicted the information they were giving out in their "press moment". There is a name for that isn't there? The British authorities in general seem pretty prone to this sort of thing.  Can't trust them any further than you could throw them. 

Well, PAS-watchers, you'll be glad to know that PAS have now "come clean" as the front page shows today at the end of the year:

I'm fed up with trying to get their clunky statistics section to work cleanly (it takes ages and prefers to give you an error message than actually provide answers if you ask it to do any real work), so I'm not wasting any New Year's Eve time working out when "3971 records ago" was. Maybe somebody else would like to have a bash. But the statistics section of the database has always tended to give inconsistent results. Searching "Statistical analysis of the database for Monday 1st January 1996 until Monday 22nd November 2021" (the day when they said they'd had their millionth record gives 997494 total records. More than 500 short. If on the 1st January 2021 they had 971873 records in the database and at the end of the year 1003971 (see screenshot above), that should mean there were 32098 records made in 2021. But for some wacky reason, the counter says there were 29422. So something is wrong here with the numbers. It is pretty worrying that there seems to be such a discrepancy (2676 records to be exact). 

What's this about? How reliable IS the PAS public database?  Why does the PAS feel the need to hide information from the public that pay for it and then arbitrarily decide to stop hiding it when they think everyone has forgotten the reasons they hid it? Is that sort of institutional flipflop transparency all the British public and the rest of us can expect these days? 

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