Thursday, July 14, 2005

Expert Predictions

Some people might know that I've already written about terrorism expert David Capitanchik. He predicted that anti-capitalist activists might target Aberdeen's oil companies during the G8 summit. I didn't think it was very likely.

Well, now that the dust has settled it's possible to compare the facts with the predictions. I've kept an eye out in the local press and I have found one incident which might fit the bill. It was reported in the P&J on the 9th July.
Protesters have scrawled threatening graffiti across the north-east headquarters of an oil giant.Vandals who attacked Halliburton's Aberdeen base also smashed one of the panes on the glass-fronted building.Staff arrived at the Pitmedden Road site yesterday to find "Terrorism breeds murder" daubed across the entrance.
I'm sure David would claim this justifies his warnings. It's hardly carnage, anarchy, and chaos though. In fact, there's a lot worse vandalism than that every weekend in Aberdeen city centre. It wouldn't be right for me to draw any conclusions as to which of us was more accurate. I leave that for the reader to decide.

While we're on the subject, I've noticed David has made a number of other appearances in the media recently. He's quoted in an article in today's P&J but it's not online. That's OK though, because exactly the same article (I estimate it's 95% exactly the same words in exactly the same order) appeared in yesterday's Scotsman. (It's not the first time the P&J has reprinted an article from another newspaper. Apparently, it's quite common.)

Anyway, the article refers to US warnings that Al-Qaida could attack the Forth bridges using a bomb on a boat. David exhibits remarkable restraint, even going so far as to say "I think the Americans can go over the top sometimes." Sensible stuff.

David has also made many other media appearances. He is often decribed as "of Aberdeen University". Some examples:
David Capitanchik, of the University of Aberdeen
David Capitanchik, a terrorism expert at Aberdeen University
Professor David Capitanchik of Aberdeen University

In my previous post, I claimed that David had left the University of Aberdeen in 1993. I said he'd most recently worked for Robert Gordons University, but had retired. The references above caused me to doubt if I'd been right. I emailed the University of Aberdeen to ask if they could clarify David's position.
I received this reply:
Dear Mr Hamster,
Professor Capitanchik was employed by the University of Aberdeen some 12 years ago, and recently retired from The Robert Gordon University. I have had a look at their website and found a biography which you will find below [I've linked it instead].
I hope this helps
This is, I believe, called fact checking. I'd always thought it was an important part of journalism. I'm not a professional though, and I've had no training in journalism so I might just have misunderstood the concept.

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