Tuesday 24 December 2019

Move over Cardiff University!

The political editor of The Sunday Times is far from the only one astonished at a new, left-wing academic study of BBC bias:

Here are a couple of others:
Martin Wardle: LSE stuff is normally a decent read but I really can’t get what they’re on about here. Apparently the BBC was biased in the way it presented the exit poll using only “seats”. The single thing that decides who wins elections?! 
Dan Barker: This is quite strange. The LSE reports that the BBC's reporting of the (correct) exit poll on election night was 'systemic media bias', and that they should instead have spent more time reporting that Labour 'only' lost by 3.6 million votes.
Looking up the authors of the report, I see that the one whose name comes first - Pippa Norris - is director of the Electoral Integrity Project. That led me onto Wikipedia's entry on the Electoral Integrity Project. In the light of this new study, the entry makes for fascinating (and rather entertaining) reading: 

The Electoral Integrity Project is an academic project based at Harvard University and the University of Sydney which seeks to quantify the integrity of elections worldwide. The project freely publishes its Perceptions of Electoral Integrity dataset for scholarly use. The most recent data release (PEI 6.0) covers 285 elections in 164 countries from mid 2012 to the end of 2017. The founding Director is Pippa Norris.
The project received media attention in 2016 when it ranked the United States last among western nations. One of the project's International Advisory Board, Andrew Reynolds, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted in the Raleigh-based News and Observer that his home state's election integrity score was similar to Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone. The study ranked integrity of the state's congressional districts lowest in the nation just below similar outlier Wisconsin. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal ridiculed the study, noting that "Democracy in New York (which scored a 61) and Virginia (60) is supposedly more imperiled than in Rwanda (64), though Rwanda is controlled by an autocrat. The worst-performing state, Arizona (53), is outranked by Kuwait (55), Ivory Coast (59) and Kyrgyzstan (54)."] Dylan Matthews writing in Vox agreed that "it seems foolish to infer from that that the US is less of a democracy than Rwanda" but felt that the EIP had highlighted important issues such as gerrymandering and voter registration laws.[ 
Statistician Andrew Gelman had a negative view of the PEI Index, commenting that "[it] all seems like an unstable combination of political ideology, academic self-promotion, credulous journalism, and plain old incompetence", noting among other things that the EIP's 2014 data release has previously given the North Korean parliamentary election an 'electoral integrity' score of 65.3 and Cuba 65.6, higher than elections in EU members Romania and Bulgaria.Norris addressed the controversy in two long replies to Gelman, noting that her team had subsequently dropped the North Korean election from the dataset. Gelman, however, questioned her justification for this removal and continued to question the EIP's methodology more generally.

You couldn't make it up.


  1. I wrote a post about the Acorn organisation yesterday. It's becoming clear to me that a multitude of organisations are pulling together to 'change the landscape' by any means necessary.

    There is a recent debate on YT between Douglas Murray and Sylvana Simons who is the leader of a 'progressive' Dutch political party called Denk.

    I have deep links with The Netherlands and know that most of her opening speech during the debate was straight lies - a compilation of disparate stories glued together to acheive a narrative of 'white people bad'.

    But if you aren't aware of the lies - aren't aware of current affairs in The Netherlands - you might accept her diatribe as plausible.

    And that's the trick the new progressives are pulling. Get all the ingredients of political ideology out of the cupboard and throw everything into the soup, then discuss the complexity of the soup.

    Never mind that the soup has become muddier, inedible and confusing, it's the narrative headline that's important.

  2. Anything from "Think tanks" and "Academic studies" is now suspect because of bias, portrayal of "facts" which are not factual and the use of percentages of change (i.e. and increase or decrease in the rate of change) instead of the real numbers. So when these pundits say "the deficit is shrinking" it means the rate of increase in the deficit is falling, but omits the fact that the deficit is still increasing. The national debt is never being paid off, merely not increasing as much as it was.

    The portrayals of the election results by the losers are merely attempts to hide the decline in popularity of the losers using percentages and when they are unfavourable, using the numbers to say x many voters still support the losers without mentioning how many did last time or the time before so we can see for ourselves how dismally they did.

    1. The BBC promotes many of these Far Left and Remainer think tanks as "independent" and "respected"...The Institute for Government is the most notorious. It is entirely funded or almost by the billionaire Lord Sainsbury who set it up. Its board is packed with Remainers only. The staff are all Remainers as far as I know. And yet the BBC never ever introduce it as "the pro-Remain" Institute for Government.

  3. Yep, the agenda should be 1. Reform the BBC. Then 2. Reform academia. Academia also receives huge public funding - much more (over £8 billion comes directly from Government) than the BBC. But Far Left academics have taken control of these citadels of learning and are using them to pour hot, scalding scorn over the British people, their values and their interests.

    Civil servants and local government officers are restricted in how far they can be politically active. I think it's time for academics in receipt of public funding to have to restrict their political activism. We also need restrictions on these amorphous "Units" and "Observatories" that pump out left wing propaganda but are at one remove from University administration (but often benefitting from the Universities' status).

    Finally, funding needs to be withdrawn from any institution found to be opposing free speech within the law, "deplatforming" of people acting within democratic norms or preventing academics exercise academic freedom.


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