Rare events

We social scientists often like to compare: one place with another, one group with another, one time with another. So when we do quantitative analysis with large numbers of cases we can say ‘crime’s higher in X than Y’ or whatever. And even in qualitative work, when we have few respondents and long interviews, say, we can relate findings to some ‘common sense’ theory, or some assumption about the way of the world. But when events are of a kind that is extremely rare, there may be no comparison.

Which leads me to a most amusing quote. In Surrey a body has been found in a wheelie bin. A neighbour told the BBC:

“It’s a very quiet place, it’s where you bring up your family. I’ve lived here for 30-odd years and it’s the first thing like this that’s happened.” (BBC)

Really? The ‘first thing like this that’s happened’?

Where I live this kind of thing happens so often the council have added a new bin to our collection. Grey is for normal rubbish, green is for paper, glass and that, brown for garden waste, and the bright red bin is for corpses and body parts.

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