I’ve been working on the Communicator badge with my Scout Group and one of the tasks that we’ve been working on is Morse Code. I found a great ad-supported site called Morse Code Translator | Morse Decoder which allows you to press dashes and dots into one window and get an immediate text translation in the other window. It also works in the other direction.
Here’s a screenshot showing it in action. On the left you type in text and the Morse code appears on the right. Alternatively, you can type dots and dashes on the right and see plain text appear on the left hand side.
To make sure that my Scouts don’t see inappropriate ads, I’ve hosted an iframe containing this code that I can use in my next meeting. The plan is for Scouts to send Morse using little LED flashers that we’re making, whilst other Scouts key in the dots and dashes that they see into the decoder. My “version” of this decoder is here: Morse Decoder – bish.co.uk
The LED “flashers” are made with a cheap Lithium Cell and LED and a bit of sellotape to act as an insulator and hold the LED against the bottom of the cell. You need to bend the wire slightly so that it only touches the top of the cell when you press it.
Total cost per “flasher” is less than 15p per Scout (I bought 500 LEDs for £7.99 and 50 CR2032 button cells for £6.47 from Amazon.
Today I received a WhatsApp post in a group representing a sports team that my daughter plays for. It had a convincing picture of a Cadbury’s hamper and said that Cadbury’s were giving everyone in the UK some free chocolate to help improve morale during lockdown.
Apart from the fact that the UK population could probably bankrupt Cadbury’s by taking them up on this offer, here are a few reasons that the link should have raised alarm bells.
The address bar in the browser shows that the website is insecure. Any large corporate like Cadbury’s or their PR agency would use a secure site. (You can identify secure sites by the fact that they have a padlock next to them).
If you click in the address bar, you can see that the address starts with “http://” rather than “https://”
At first glance the address looks OK. (It’s been designed to look that way). It includes the “cadbury.co.uk” and “giftclub” but if you think carefully about the address you can see that the domain is “uk-gifthamper.club”.
The world seems to be full of daft theories based on poor statistical analysis at the moment. In a chaotic world, humans have evolved to see and recognise patterns where they exist. Patterns and order rarely appear by chance and as we have evolved we’ve become really good at recognising order amongst disorder and deducing correlations that help us to make sense of the world around us.
Most of the world is “confined to home” due to COVID-19 at the moment and regular news sources are proving to be unreliable. News sources are increasingly driven by their own agendas and clickbait and sensationalist headlines are competing for the attention of an increasingly sceptical audience and as a result people are looking further afield for information. People are spending more time than normal browsing FaceBook and other social media and in this environment, disinformation spreads.
Add into this the fact that different groups of people are playing the blame game and as a result, those involved are keen to shift the blame elsewhere. The WHO hasn’t come out of this well and they face allegations that they may have colluded with China to downplay the severity of COVID-19 in January. Brexiteers are keen to highlight the EU’s inability to force nation states to work together in a crisis. Remainers are keen to highlight any failing of the government and use it to delay Brexit. The US is blaming China and in the meantime China is trying to draw the world’s attention away from their wet markets, biowarfare research and death figures.
Every faction is using every statistic that they can to “prove” that they are correct. In doing so, they are demonstrating confirmation bias by latching onto every theory or piece of information that appears to support their theory and discounting contradictory information.
All of the above is causing ridiculous theories to to circulate unchecked online. All that is needed is an audience that “wants/needs” to believe, a medium to spread information and that pre-disposition that we all have to seek patterns.
The UK population is about 66.5 million The number of people who work in the NHS is about 1.5 million Therefore the number of people who don’t is about 65 million The number of people who have died with COVID-19 is currently 10,612. 37 of those people worked in the NHS.
Therefore 10,575 people who do not work in the NHS have died. 10,575 of the 65 million who do not work for the NHS = 0.02% 37 of the 1.5 million who do work in the NHS = 0.002% So what’s the bogus conclusion we can draw here?
SHOCK AS STATISTICS SHOW YOU ARE TEN TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DIE OF COVID-19 IF YOU DON’T WORK FOR THE NHS THAN IF YOU DO!!
That’s right. If you fail to consider any variables or wider context, it looks to be that not working for the NHS is 10x more dangerous than working for the NHS. Of course, this is complete nonsense. Fact is the demographics most likely to die are unlikely to work for the NHS.
RockboltG (via Twitter)
It’s a humorous look at how statistics can be warped to suit whichever position you want to adopt in an argument. Similar claims are made when comparing morbidity rates in dissimilar countries. Variations in demographics, urban vs rural population, relative age of population and population density all have an effect.