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Katherine Shonfield

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Shock research finding: rain is wet. After an expert enquiry which has taken place over the past five decades, a preliminary report to the sub-committee of the standing committee of the presiding committee now shows early indications of a tentative relationship between precipitation and subjective sensations of dampness.

Caution however was recommended against premature conclusions. These, it was warned, might result in the widespread adoption of mackintoshes by the uninformed. This action was considered imprudent and liable to invoke legal sanctions by interested parties.

The urge to enquire when common sense suggests the distasteful option of mere action is a fascinating and repellent feature of the present age.

In the past week a report has found that criminals prefer to operate where others can't see them, ie in the dark. It has apparently taken the Home Office ten years to accept this finding. And now another 'investigation' is being mooted into whether the fact that there are 25-odd different rail owners has anything to do with the possibility that none of them appear certain about what any of the others are doing.

Pseudo objectivity is cultivated to the point of insanity. But infinite enquiry doesn't actually help what are essentially moral and humanitarian judgements.

A case in point is the new report by John Prescott's own inspectors that 1.1 million new homes have to be built in the South East in the next 16 years, embarrassingly, in direct contradiction to the findings of his own Urban Task Force. These decisions should not and cannot be based on 'findings'. The important question that needs to be asked , about national rail networks as much as the decimation of the green belt, is what do we want for our own civilised future?

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