There’s this saying that if you torture statistics enough, it will tell you anything you want it to. That is something that SDP and Dr Chee Soon Juan seem to know all too well. Recently, they have been frequently misrepresenting statistics, drawing spurious conclusions to fit their twisted narratives.
It started with their claim about job creation in Singapore. And recently, they claim that a “pre-election survey conducted between 30 April to 3 May 2016 by Blackbox Research showed that Bukit Batok voters found SDP candidate Dr Chee Soon Juan to be the better candidate than his PAP rival Mr Murali Pillai.” That trumpet-blowing post was posted at just before 12:30pm on 16 May 2016.
That is bullshit.
What did the Blackbox Research survey actually ask?
It asked respondents for the top reason for their vote choice. The survey then found that of the respondents who said that they would vote Dr Chee, 33% said that the top reason that determined their vote choice was because they thought Dr Chee was the better candidate. Of the respondents who said that they would vote Mr Murali, 29% said that the top reason that determined their vote choice was because they thought Mr Murali was the candidate.
Does that mean that Bukit Batok residents felt that Dr Chee was the better candidate? Of course not.
From the survey, only 35.6% said that they would vote for Dr Chee. In other words, of all the respondents, only 11.7% (or 33% of 29%, i.e. 0.33 x 0.29 x 100) would vote for Dr Chee because they thought he was the better candidate. Comparatively, 18.7% of respondents say that they would vote for Mr Murali because they thought he was the better candidate.
Does that mean that more Bukit Batok voters felt that Mr Murali is the better candidate?
The survey doesn’t reveal that. Because whether one candidate was better than the other wasn’t the key reason that determined voters’ choice. Instead, for those that would vote for PAP, it was because they trusted PAP. And for those that would vote SDP, the key reason was because they wanted more opposition representation in parliament.
What the survey does say about how the respondents feel about each of the candidates?
73% of the respondents had quite positive or very positive perception of Mr Murali. Only a measly 9% had a quite negative or very negative perception of Mr Murali. Comparatively, only 53% of respondents had quite positive or very positive perception of Dr Chee. What’s more telling is that 23% of respondents had quite negative or very negative perception of Dr Chee.
In other words, if the survey results are representative of the views of the voters in Bukit Batok, then 23% of Bukit Batok voters would never have voted for Dr Chee because of their negative perceptions of him. And 20% more of Bukit Batok voters had positive perception of Mr Murali than of Dr Chee.
Put together, anyone who has any understanding of statistics and read the full survey report carefully will never come to the stupid conclusion that Bukit Batok voters found Dr Chee to be a better candidate that Mr Murali.
Granted, SDP and Dr Chee subsequently posted a “corrected” version at 9:41pm the same day that went like this:
Despite posting the correction, Dr Chee and SDP have not removed the earlier erroneous posts. They continued to let it get shared around. If they really made a mistake and they were sincere about correcting the mistake, they would have taken down the erroneous posts, leaving the corrected posts.
But they didn’t. Why not? Is it because they still want people to spread the erroneous posts to create the impression that Bukit Batok voters felt that Dr Chee was the better candidate?
More importantly, how in the world did Dr Chee and SDP even come to that stupid conclusion in the first place? Were they stupid and incompetent? I doubt. As I’ve said before, Dr Chee has a PhD in psychology. Psychology is a subject that relies heavily on statistical analysis. To have a PhD in psychology means that Dr Chee MUST be quite capable of understanding statistics. So it cannot be that he is so stupid to draw such spurious conclusions from the survey, right?
Or perhaps Dr Chee understands statistics all too well. And perhaps he believes that most Singaporeans won’t read the full report and would just swallow whatever bullshit he writes. And he is deliberately misrepresenting the survey results to mislead people. If that is the case, then he is indeed very insidious.
Whichever the case, Dr Chee, tsk tsk.
[Featured image: photo from AFP]