Wednesday, August 06, 2003

~Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics and Editorials~

Mr Andy Ho's portrayal of the NTU incident as analagous to a Monet painting has not just enlightened me to the intricacies of impressionist art but has at the same time has raised a rather large number of points that we as the general public and electorate (nevermind that some of us will probably never get to cast a ballot) ought to consider and take to heart as well.

Firstly, in refernence to the infamous quote above (without the editorial bit), it goes for both sides of the house. After all, statistics can be pretty much manipulated to suit each and every and any case, including why every organisation ought to adopt the latest management fad even though the chaos and havoc it would cause would not even have run its course before the next fad starts its roll call on the New York Times bestsellers list. After all, like a bikini, it isn't what statistics reveal that is interesting but what it conceals...=) The NTU dons do not seem to have committed anything more serious than a possible over-extrapolation of data from know facts. A larger survey sample might change the numbers but as Miss Chua has shown through some nifty maths (the number vacilates between 4:5, 9:10 and 1:1) and clear, cold logic (something I didn't think she showed during the last elections....yes I'm being evil...but please don't sue me...8>) it doesn't really render the conclusion null and void as the survey sample the dons used excluded particular fields where Singaporeans in general do not really compete with foreign workers i.e. construction work.

If the NTU stats are off, it similarly allows us to cast a more jaundiced view of MOM's (wonderfully apt name I personally think!) data. After all, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander as well. Which hopefully explains the joke, it isn't that Singaporean workers are paid low wages but just that we're too dang productive! (Check out the actual comment made by our very favourite opposition member and then Acting Minister for Manpower 8>)

At any rate, the most major lesson learnt from this debacle is that we need more information (of course it requires people to think, but I have faith in my fellow not all those current in NS...particularly those on the very sunny island of Tekong...) and that in turn means we need to reduce a seeming asymmetric information flow that seems to pervade our society. As my brother points out, isn't it remarkable that his Social Studies text book keeps pointing out the need for the drive to further transparency? If it's in an official textbook, Members of the House, it must be true (technically anyway...)

One thing we all hopefully learn from this incident (other than Impressionist Art Rulez!) is that we should place less credit worthiness on Authority of whatever form (like say...oh...incredibly accurate economic forecasting that leaves the other economist in the dust..., or like having been in power since independance), and more on the discernable and not so discernable facts at hand (unless it is classified than...see above for need for transparency ya?)


Post a Comment

<< Home