What is it about numbers that makes us so competitive? Being an economist I live in a world of numbers and so I am always deeply sceptical about them. So what am I to make of the fact that I appear to have been ranked seven in a list of green blogs in the UK? This is a datum that confuses me personally, as well as statistically.
Let's start with the easy stuff. The number in itself is meaningless unless I know how many green blogs I am contending with. Last year it was 100; this year only 20. Has Jim eliminated the rabble to allow more glory for those of us who remain? Or have the serious people found something better to do, so that even being 7 out of 20 only proves I have been left behind in the rush to the next great media revolution?
Perhaps Jim didn't even rank the list, allowing the citizenry to do that via the People's Vote. And if he did how does 7 compare with 1: is it seven times less good? Are we dealing with logarithmic scales here? Incidentally, while I'm on the subject of numbers, have you ever noticed how, when media people get into discussions like this one, they start referring to rocket scientists. As though finding ways to travel to other distant planets to colonise and mess them up were somehow cleverer than finding a way to survive on our own beautiful planet, which already has life on it.
What is distressing me most about this process is that I actually care about it. I am a sad competitive person masquerading as a co-operative green who isn't interested in status. Can I blame it on capitalism, the need to compete to survive, or is it just my personal karma? This is summed up by the fact that my deepest regret in life is never having been on University Challenge, although this may now have been surpassed by the regret that I didn't write the book called Starter for Ten.
Oh, shit, there it is again: a number. Why ten points for a correct answer, rather than 1 or 20 or 200? That is such a University Challenge thing isn't it? You know what: I've depressed myself. This strange relationship with the numerical is what being an economist does to you. . . I would still like your votes, though. You'll have to go to Jim Jepps's site at: http://www.jimjay.blogspot.com/ to help me out of my misery. Or will it just make it worse?