The image above (click for larger version) shows the missing slide from the presentation on the Economic Contribution of Estates referred to in the Means and Medians blog from last week. (1) It is important because it shows the significant difference between the mean and the median. (2)

In particular it is important because the researchers who wrote the report stressed that in such a skewed sample, the mean should not be used.

It should, however, be stressed that the overall average values are very heavily influenced by the large and very large estates and the median figures for average income and investment are significantly lower.” (4.2.2 pg. 39)

In presenting the findings, the lead researcher, Rob Hindle stated that,

the mean average [is] significantly skewed by the bigger numbers at one end of the spectrum – so don’t do it – it’s not helpful. You need to start looking for the middle point but be aware even so that the middle point ..there are very big differences between the numbers at one end and the numbers at the other end so the middle point is again to be treated with caution

The means and medians are not published in the report for these very reasons. However, SLE issued a press release on 16 April entitled “New Research Reveals Significant Annual investment on Tenanted Land and Crofts by Estates” with an opening line that read,

Rural estate owners are investing an average of £69,000 per year on their tenanted farms and crofts“, new research has revealed.

The release went on to state that average income amounted to £101,422.

The more accurate figures are the medians and, as the graph shows (second set of columns from the left), the difference is startling.

Median revenue is around £22,000 (22% of the mean) and expenditure about £10,000 (14% of the mean) compared with £101,422 mean revenue and £69,145 mean expenditure

The differences for other categories – notably heritage and leisure are even more pronounced.


(1) I should emphasise that the report is an excellent report and I plan to blog at greater length on its findings.

(2) The mean of a sample is the total of all the values divided by the number of values. The median is the middle value in a distribution of values. So, for example in a town with 100 houses where 99 were worth £100 each and one was worth £1 million, the mean would be £10,099 (1,009,900 divided by 100). But describing the average house price in town as being £10,999 is obviously misleading. In a skewed distribution, the median is more useful and in this case is £100 (the middle value when all values are lined up from smallest to largest) – in this case a far better representation of the average or typical price of a house.


  1. It would be interesting to see what the team at “more or less”
    would make of this, often fascinating insights

  2. If different estate sizes are making it hard to compare, would it be possible/helpful to crunch the figures to produce £ per acre or similar?

  3. 2.47 acres to the hectare. £65.65 per acre.

    • Take a deep breath daye, you divide by 2.47, not multiply.
      The answer is £10.76 per acre.

      • You must buy your calculators from the same shop SLE obtains thiers.
        so why was the slide removed?

      • Thanks Hector, standard calculator human error input. Not for the first time brain failure from late night posts! So £10.76 which puts quite a different light on it , illustrating Andy’s point and a point made publicly by SL&E in Press Releases and by the Researchers.

        However, to accuse SL&E of deliberately removing a slide from a presentation, and ignoring those consistent warnings about the use of such averages when headlining, is a step too far. Andy is one of many along with Owen Paterson, Alistair Carmichael and the Westminster Scottish Affair’s Committee’s chair, who continue to claim that Scottish farmers receive the highest holding payments in the EU. Whilst technically correct, it is grossly misleading but I heard no warnings from any of these users that we should be cautious about using such averages. Apologies if you deem this to be a diversion, whaboutery or off topic.

        • Hebridean Farmer

          DT You say “to accuse SL&E of deliberately removing a slide from a presentation ”
          Nobody said that … We all agree there was a full and detailed PRESENTATION given by R.Hindle. The problem occurred afterwards by SLaE, when they tried to hide and camouflage the meaningful figures, by removing certain data from their video and subsequent publications. Pre-meditated skewed data.

          • “So, it appears that SLE have removed this slide from the published presentation given at the conference.

            Not only, therefore, did SLE seek to misrepresent the levels of investment in its press release by picking the unrepresentative “mean” figure but it appears to have intentionally removed the slide that showed the critical difference from the presentation of the lead researcher of the report.”

          • Hebridean Farmer

            To NK;
            I was actually aware of that Neil…I was using a little sarcasm…sorry it was missed.

        • Hebridean Farmer

          Yes Daye, That’s right. It appears that the slide was removed by SLaE AFTER the already given full presentation by Hindle.
          This does lead to a misrepresentation, you’re right.

          • HF, I think you may have misunderstood that DT’s last comment there was a quotation from the Means and Medians blog before it was changed. The quotation was to demonstrate that, contrary to your assertion, Andy accused SL&E of deliberately removing a slide.

  4. You’ve got to be a hardcore tinfoil hatter to find a slide removal conspiracy in this! The guy was running way over his allotted time. He’d just asked the chair “How much longer are you prepared to indulge me?” and the answer sounded like “two minutes or until I tell you to stop” so is it any wonder he started skipping slides (intentionally or otherwise)? And if it was a conspiracy between SLE and “the video guy”, then it was about the clumsiest one in history involving bringing along a lot of invited witnesses and then, if anyone hadn’t got the message, handing out the evidence to anyone else who asked for it! Get real!

    The real story here is about people who are not expert statisticians (or whatever the right word is) taking statistics out of context to try prove a point. And in that regard, the brass neck of Andy Wightman to go sanctimoniously accusing people of this is astonishing considering that is *precisely* what he has done with his 432:50 statistic – trying to make a point about inequality of wealth by wielding an eye-catching statistic about inequality of something else. (And with data never even published either.)


    • We are all jolly glad that Andy Wightman has a brass neck and is willing to speak up over the injustices suffered by the scots over land tenure over the past 3 centuries and still continueing.

      SLE are defending the indefensible, by using professional spin doctors , plus a few other hangers on, while andy is unpaid.

      I noted that no landlords were present at the recent reform meeting i attended, but there was a sea of their factor lackeys.

      • hector, ref. your first sentence there, I agree except it’s a pity AW doesn’t use his brass neck just to tell it how it is instead of succumbing to the temptation to overegg the pudding by peddling dodgy facts and statistics – doing exactly what he gets all hot under the collar about his ideological opponents doing.

  5. “so is it any wonder he started skipping slides”

    Did you read the original post which quite clearly said the slide was in the presentation but not in the published document or video?

    • Hebridean Farmer

      Exactly angus ..Andy clearly writes that the slide WAS in the original presentation, and then goes on to explain how it was omitted in future publications. Did you understand that Neil ? This is the sinister part in all this. Pulling the wool over our eyes comes to mind, but, this is what we have come to expect from SLaE , so no changes there.
      This is just the start of the scrutiny over these figures, as there are huge discrepancies over the annual investment figures on tenanted farms put forward by lairds and in contract those put forward by tenants. I welcome the investigation.

    • Angus, I don’t know what you mean by “not in the published document”. Do you mean the report? I don’t think anyone’s alleging that’s been doctored. Or are they?

      I admit “skipped” was the wrong choice of word. What I meant was “flicked quickly past to get to the next slide”. I also read the comment of the video producer who said it was there for a nanosecond. That was probably an exaggeration. It was up for long enough for it to register with Andy’s informant. But it’s perfectly credible to believe, as the producer who has no axe to grind did, that, as the speaker was running so badly over time, he was editing his presentation as he went along and decided to omit that slide in order to get later material. The “missing slide” was probably up just for the few beats of time while he thought to himself “Am I going to say anything about this? No, don’t have time …” (Or “Oh, damn, I’ve accidently hit the button to move on a slide again [as he had done more than once earlier in the talk] before I got a chance to say anything about that. Too bad, no time, move on ..”)

  6. Slurry Stirrer

    Absolute desperation to announce proudly a set of figures which the author warned not to do. Meanwhile we are all talking about figures when we should be talking about asking for the SLAE representative to resign over knowingly using skewed data. (by the way, nobody cares about the slide show, irrelevant)
    Depopulation, young people leaving their rural homeland to make way for the Agri-Business juggernaut, that’s what we should be focusing on. Maybe we can however develop this set of figures and use it to decide which estates are no longer fit for preservation. I would like to start by asking them to include the figures from my short study: 6pence per acre over the last 50 years, that is the investment my landlord has made on this farm. How about an estimated figure of around 70% of my conscious ‘thinking time’ being dominated by living under the shadow created by my landlord. Quality of life and mental health of tenants, lets get the stats and charts for that published!

  7. Neil

    Sounds like you were one of the invited guests with your detail of how the slide show went ?.

    Come on now Neil . This was a blatant exercise in massaging the figures to get a good answer for the landowners , and you know it !!. The sham has been well and truly exposed for all to see .

    • Of course I know it Wendy. But everyone’s at it. Including Andy Wightman.

      • Andrew Howard

        I think perhaps “at it” is unfair. There seems to be a bit of a contrived “shock horror” conspiracy theory being built up here. I was at the conference (not invitation only but a member event and with plenty more as well) and I can’t recall the slide which means it must have been up there and off pretty quickly. So no great surprise at the video guys editing. The complete presentation is available and has been sent to members who couldn’t attend and wanted one. And it’s on the SLE website – so hardly a great cover up.
        And the stats. of course means and medians are different and neither will be perfect in interpreting a complex data set which includes great variation and is based on “estates’ which are themselves far from uniform. So you do what you can to understand what that data might mean. We can argue until the cows come home about how you crunch the numbers but as the full report is available you can focus on that instead of press statements which can only ever be a snapshot.
        Looking at the wider messages we might take. There seemed to me to be very significant investments being made across the estates and whilst it varied per estate (of course it would as they’re all different) the quantum was significant. One area where investment was not as abundant as might be wished on some estates was on let holdings. The larger estates appear to continuing to invest but smaller ones appear to be affected more by the lack of confidence caused by 10 years of political scuffling over Ag Holdings. Rather than finger pointing perhaps use the data to identify these effects and seek to address them.

        • Lack of investment goes way beyond “the last 10 yrs”
          Of the tenanted farms i know of, there has been precious little landlord investment since 1900 , long before any “political scuffling”
          New sheds have been built, but paid for by tenants, grant schemes or insurance.
          The sad truth is that it is tenants capital that has made our farms what they are, and the lairds still charge us rent on that capital.

  8. Several landowners featuring on the rich list today, with nice fat gains mostly.

  9. Neil

    Sorry , I must be very naive , but what do you mean ” everyone’s at it . Including Andy Wightman.”

  10. Neil

    Don’t tell me that these are the best figures that S L and E could produce from all the estates in Scotland ?. I hate to think what the rest were like that did not get entered into the survey !! .

    All I can see is that Andy Wightman has exposed S L and E as arrogant manipulators of the truth .
    The sooner an investigation is carried out on what expenditure landlords spend on their tenanted estates , the better .

    • Andrew Howard

      It’s not a case of SLE finding data. The researchers produced the study on an independent basis. The report is available in full for you to make of it as you will. I haven’t seen such work from any other bodies involved in this sector. This is an attempt to inform the current discussions with a more thorough understanding of what’s actually going on rather the usual assertion and counter assertion. Unless you’re suggesting that all contributors lied and that the researchers fell for all this (I’m sure Hector et al will oblige on that front) then we should look at what this data tells us. One of things it tells us it that where returns are reasonable and there aren’t political pressures unsettling long term confidence Estates (amongst other businesses) are investing a lot in the future of rural Scotland. Of course there will be exceptions to this but usually better to understand why rather than just lobbing brickbats start.

    • Slurry Stirrer

      well said Wendy.

  11. Andrew

    You have found data you wanted to use and you have used it in the presentation .
    As for the missing slide , well. , maybe that was not meant to be included in the data ?.

    • Andrew Howard

      You have all the data so you can make you’re own mind up. Theres a lot of it and we’ve caveated all along that averages have to be regarded with care. If we only wanted to use some of it we wouldn’t have made all of it available would we.

  12. Andrew

    The plot thickens .
    Now what about the missing slide ? .

    • Andrew Howard

      ?? It’s not missing.

      • It was taken out after hindles presentation.
        If someone hadnt noticed, it would still be out.

        • Andrew Howard

          Not correct. Edited – perfectly reasonably – by a video guy. Argue about the report itself if you want but this contrived row about one slide which is available anyway is pretty tiresome.
          I look forward to sight of your independently commissioned work which seeks to provide real information instead of un-supported assertion.

  13. Andrew

    I think , from what I have read , that S L And E cannot even cheat properly. And that is even using highly paid professionals . Do you think that only one person at the meeting saw this ” slide ”

    • Andrew Howard

      I doubt there’s anything I can say which will convince you that no one’s trying to “cheat”. If you want to believe that you go ahead and do so. As I’ve said already I shall await with interest other organisations attempts to add actual data rather than assertion.

  14. The point is that the mean value was used to make a press release which was entirely misleading, trying to say that the “average” estate “invested” over £100k per year in tenanted farms.

    The scottish farmer online poll said it all when 100% of respondents did not believe SLE figures.

    New investment in tenanted farms is non existent and has been for a very long time, thats why the call for ARTB arose in 2002, and again in 2013.
    And it will keep recurring until it is achieved and landlordism erased from scotland.

    • Andrew Howard

      Not if you read the press release which in itself flagged that you do have to be careful with averages. See Doug McAdams post on Andy’s previous thread.
      And as for the investment which is more likely that all the respondents lied or that your enquiries /observations are from a limited pool. In the last two years we’ve built 2 significant sheds and a silage pit on let holdings in addition to the usual smaller scale renewals. And another one this year. We’re not unusual. I accept in some areas investment has been lower but sweeping assertions that there isn’t any and hasn’t been since 1900 aren’t in the least credible.

      • And what were the circumstances leading to these two new sheds and silage pit?
        Was there insurance money from snow damaged buildings perchance? or had the tenant surrendered a steading for development? Or some other deal?
        If so, that cannot be classed as NEW investment, merely a replacement of existing facilities.
        I rather think the claims from dunecht estate last week would fit that description.
        I would go further back than 1900, probably back to 1700, and still little landlord investment will be found.

        • Andrew Howard

          One shed was a replacement for a series of worn out buildings, the silage pit was a larger replacement and the other shed was a new addition. Nothing taken away in any case. Next shed will replace a gaggle of older knackered sheds – probably the tenants but no one quite sure so we’re doing it. No snow, no insurance.
          Of course it’s an investment. It may not expand capacity, although often it does, but it will almost certainly be better and easier to use and an improvement on what it replaced. If we used your investment definition only expanded capacity would count which is a pretty odd reference point.

  15. Andrew

    Are you insinuating that I did not tell the truth ?.

    • Andrew Howard

      Not in the least. I’m saying you sound convinced there’s a conspiracy to mislead – that we didn’t tell the truth. I’m simply saying that there seems little I can say to change your view on this. SLE has produced the most comprehensive assessment (using third party independent academics) it can. No one else has done this. I look forward to reports from others – should they be forthcoming – and how they are presented.

    • Andrew howard is insinuating now that all the online pollers in the scottish farmer were lying.
      Or was it all a bolshevik conspiracy?

  16. Andrew

    You cannot argue that the survey carried out by The Scottish Farmer was rigged . How do you account for the result ?. It is obvious to me that landlords of estates do not invest in their tenanted farms . Look at the poor state of March fencing , farm buildings and farm houses . It is a disgrace to see this in Scotland in 2014 !! .
    Maybe this has been a ploy over many years to scunner the farm tenant to give up the tenancy to the landlord ? .

    • Andrew Howard

      See comment above to Hector as to why the SF poll might have reported as it did. Whilst I’m prepared to accept that some estates don’t invest as much as they might you might repay to courtesy by accepting that some estates do.
      Worth bearing in mind that tenants are responsible for repairs and landlords renewals. Plenty of grey area there I accept but it’s not always so simple as to point the finger at one party only. Six of one and half a dozen of the applies in quite a few cases.

  17. Slurry Stirrer

    This is quite something, A report which will have selected Estates, advice ignored by the author in terms of interpreting the data, a press release boasting about dodgy figures, now the lairds hired hands are instructed to defend and deflect. What a massive, wealthy, powerful, arrogant bunch of desperados.

    • Andrew Howard

      Or, if you look at it a little more objectively, a report prepared by respected academics, no advice ignored – indeed one of the authors presented the data and SLE itself noted that averages should be looked at with some caution and I’m not paid by SLE (or my employer come to think of it) to argue the toss with you rather I do it because concocted outrage annoys me. Argue about the contents if you will – and present your own independent data – but lets not fall back into the only threads we’ve enjoyed so often on this blog.

      • Slurry Stirrer

        howard, surely you get money/salary out off the Landed system? have a wee read of this, “objectively” as you can! Concocted outrage?
        I didn’t read the SLAE report, nor will i, that wasn’t the issue for me. “SLAE itself noted that averages should be looked at with some caution” and with the author saying NOT to use the mean, then why did SLAE ignore all this and seek to gain ground by press releasing the mean? This just gets worse for SLAE, they need to start apologising or retracting.
        Try and restrict the debate to the content of the report if you want, but don’t tell me to.

        • Andrew Howard

          It’s Andrew not Howard unless you’ve come over all old fashioned formal. I’ve just read George Monbiot’s piece. It’s a great pity that a quality newspaper allows journalism which is so weak. When’s he’s gone back and checked his facts perhaps he should have another go.
          And you don’t intend to read the SLE report. That says it all.

  18. If it wasnt for andy wightman, we would know nothing of this missing information from the press release or other papers. SLE ignored the advice of SRUC and published the average investment, even though they knew the median figure was a mere £10,000 pa which included repairs,admin, office costs etc leaving very little money for actual “investment”

    • Andrew Howard

      Well you’d have know about it if you’d looked on the SLE website. Hmmmm. Very cloak and dagger.
      And what does the median tell you. If most landlords had 1 farm and spent £10,000pa that would be fine. If they had 30 tenants and spent £10,000 pa that wouldn’t. Picking figures like that carries the same risk. Any attempt to interpret complex data carries the risk of reducing the absolute clarity of the actual data. But you can’t represent all the data in a press release – incidentally released well before the presentation – days I think.
      So no attempt to mislead, no conspiracy and the full report available. What a scandal!

  19. Andrew
    How can you claim
    ” Any attempt to interpret complex data carries the risk of reducing the absolute clarity of the actual data. ”
    yet Douglas McAdam, Chief Executive of Scottish Land & Estates interpretated it by commenting

    “This research, undertaken within the Scottish Government-commissioned Research Programme is exactly the sort of independent recognition landowners and estate owners have been looking for. It is clear from the findings of the report that estates make a significant social, economic and environmental contribution to the communities of which they are a part ”.

    Either one or both of you are talking absolute nonsense !!! .

    • Andrew Howard

      They are not in the least contradictory. My point is that to best understand any data set, particularly a complex one, you look at the data. That doesn’t mean you can’t draw some conclusions. Doug’s are perfectly reasonable conclusions and if you look elsewhere in the previous thread his reproduced quote also makes clear that SLE were quoting averages and that there would be variety in the sample.

  20. This comedy we are witnessing about the missing slide reminds me of the magician who announces how clever he is at what he is going to achieve with his fantastic trick on stage in front of a large select audience . Unfortunately one of his props falls out and now a larger audience see a white dove pecking his privates ,

  21. Andrew

    Oh yes they are , and you know it . Anyway you are trying to digress from the main topic which is what happened to the missing slide . The plot is still thickening ! .

  22. Hebridean Farmer

    Publishing data that misleads is a very risky thing to do. Fine if you get away with it, because on the surface it would seem that you have won an argument, but CRAZY if there is the slightest chance you are to be found out.
    You have to be pretty sure of your facts, or pretty stupid, to publish data that Andy Wightman will be casting his eye over. So it beggars belief why SLaE went on to report that “Rural estate owners are investing an average of £69,000 per year on their tenanted farms and crofts“ When earlier the report author clearly stated ”the mean average [is] significantly skewed by the bigger numbers at one end of the spectrum – so don’t do it – it’s not helpful.
    So right from the beginning SLaE looses all credibility by doing just the thing that they were told NOT to do……because it distorts the findings. Such was their need to distort things that they went on to do it.
    Ofcourse they were found out, it was inevitable, but what strikes me is the brass neck of them thinking they were going to get away with it ! Did they really think Andy wasn’t going to notice ??? Or were they just plain naive. The plot begins to thicken when at some point they must have realised they were going to be found out , and decided to hide some evidence, and now we have “slidegate”
    Mr Howard, we know the slide was shown initially by the Author of the report, but soon afterwards (in the name of editing ?) it was omitted from SLaE’s video and report.
    What is alarming here is that you feel compelled to justify this, when we all see it as a blatant attempt to skew reality.
    Why on earth any member of the public would choose to go on and read such a report, when the author’s advice had been so willfully ignored is beyond belief. Indeed, with the facts now in front of us it may only be SLaE members who have taken the time to read SLaE’s version.
    Oh yes, the plot thickens…….has it worked ? Friday at 9.30am will tell.

  23. Slurry Stirrer

    This episode is now known as the “hiding of the truth” how awful that an organisation has set out to hoodwink our MSPs. Even worse the continual denial and defending this blatant stunt. It seems that we can no longer debate on a fair basis, so sad. I will visit SLAE’s website every day to check if Doug McAdam has considered his position.

    • Andrew Howard

      SS / HF
      There’s little point arguing about this anymore. My final observation is I admire the scale of your faux outrage about a slide that isn’t missing, data that’s freely available and the use of a statistic that the user of which issued his own caution.
      I look forward with interest to the production of your own independent report – we will of course pay close attention to your statistical analysis.

      • Slurry Stirrer

        AH, you haven’t argued at all about why Doug Mc used the mean data for a press release. Maybe you think there is little point continuing this, but everyone else is looking for SLAE to issue an apology for chancing it.
        Not wanting to keep you waiting any longer, here are the results of my independent report; Landlord investment on the farm i am on, 6p/acre for the last 50 years.

      • Hebridean Farmer

        No “faux outrage” Mr Howard, so please don’t assume it is.
        Such as SLaE are, they are always going to protest about the validity of the data, let them, however the rest of us will treat this report with the honesty is deserves.
        We are lowly folk, we have no financial reserves to rely on to produce documents to try and impress, we have no offices or staff to call on for the production of glossy reports.
        There will be none of that from us. So please don’t “look forward with interest to the production of your own independent report”
        We are the people of the land who know first hand what investment lairds make on our farms. Factors come and go, and investment remains stagnant, that is why we are outraged by this claim.
        What we do have is a fire of injustice raging within us, and it is that, and only that, that drives us. We are determined, and whilst there’s breath still in our bodies we will continue to fight for justice.

  24. Andrew

    Good report of poll for farmers in The Scottish Farmer 2 weeks ago . What did you interpret from that % poll . ———. ” we will of course pay close attention to your statistical analysis ” .

  25. If i recall correctly, only 13 % of stfa members said their landlord invested regularly, and about 40 % said there had been no investment in the last ten years.
    Unfortuneately there was no question on whether the landlord had invested over the last fifty years, that would have been very revealing.

    That is a very long way from the SLE press release.

  26. Hector

    Not if you use the S L and E calculator that Daye and Andrew use . It will corrupt all data to benefit landlords and their estates .

  27. Never mind, david johnstone the new chair of SLE is proposing a new hot air fest to thrash out the problems of the tenanted sector.
    Its a bit too late for that, the TFF was and is a complete waste of breath, so lets leave it to the politicians.

  28. Slurry Stirrer

    Daye, what do you think of my Landlords 6p/acre investment made over the last 50 years on his tenanted farm? In the interest of fairness would you plug the 6 pence into the ‘Special SLAE calculator’ and tell us what comes out please.
    But i must be honest, i think i may have been misleading everyone. As Hector pointed out replacement of worn out and damaged fixed equipment does not constitute investment. So i will have to withdraw my figure of 6pence/acre. I will for the moment run with 0p/acre, until i calculate how much i was rented on the ruinous fixed equipment. Unfortunately it looks like a -ve value for the Lairds investment. My neighboring tenants have the same statistics.
    SO! are SLAE going to defend these bad landlords in risk of pulling all their members into the same category? OR are they going to agree that it is time for such landlords to be fairly and squarely paid for the purchase of these farms and then families can get on and move forward?

  29. Not only do landlords not invest, butthey attempt to cover their lack of investment up.
    Then they accuse online pollsters of lying about it.
    But worse than any of that, they employ armies of factors and lawyers to take possession of tenants improvements for little or no cost, either at the eviction or death of the tenant, or by simply charging rent on them.

  30. Land Reform; Bring it on.!!!!