Barometer

Barometer

13 October 2016

2:00 PM

13 October 2016

2:00 PM

Fears of a clown

Professional clowns complained that the current craze for scaring people by dressing in clown outfits was damaging their trade. But why do some people find clowns frightening?
— The effect was analysed in 1970 by Japanese professor Masahiro Mori as he researched robot faces. He found that the more lifelike faces induced increasing feelings of empathy until a critical point, at which point people began to find them scary. Then, as the face was made still more lifelike, empathy quickly returned. He called the effect the ‘uncanny valley’, after its shape on a graph.
— Clown faces occupy a gap between primate and human, so the fear may originate from ancient aversion to breeding with near-human relatives.

Abroad picture

The government backtracked on plans to make firms record numbers of foreign workers, saying the data was needed only to highlight skills shortages and would not be published. Actually, the Office of National Statistics already records the number of foreign nationals by industry, as follows:

Industry or sector
All non-UK

Lodging & food services
20%

Household employers
19%
Admin/support services
15%
Manufacturing
13%
Transport and storage
13%
Info & communication
12%

 


Industry or sector
Just EU

Lodging & food services
13%

Household employers
16 %
Admin/support services
10%
Manufacturing
10%
Transport and storage
8%
Info & communication
6%

Home fires burning

Samsung withdrew its latest smartphone after reports of batteries bursting into flame. Which household appliances are most likely to catch fire?

Number of fires 2011-14
Washing machines
1,723
Tumble dryers
1,456
Dishwashers
1,324
Cookers
1,080
Fridge-freezers
861
Central heating
606
Microwaves
427
Toasters
495
Televisions
372
Electric blankets
236
Irons
92
Source: Which?

Stand and deliver

Royal Mail was accused of profiting from fraudulent scam letters which it delivered with its own official stamp. How much of its £7.7 bn revenue came from junk mail in 2015/16?

Letters
£3.3 bn
Marketing mail
£1.2 bn

Parcels
£3.2 bn

It delivered 12.6 bn letters bearing the recipients’ addresses and 3 bn unaddressed mailshots.


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