Noynoy Aquino and the LP: A Broken Compass in a Time of Uncertainty
It used to be that politicians would complain about fraud AFTER the elections. Today, Noynoy Aquino and the newly-minted yellow zombies of ABS-CBN are complaining about election fraud BEFORE the elections have taken place. Of course, there is a need to be vigilant against fraud anytime. I want a clean and credible election, too. The LP, ABS-CBN, or Aquino does not have a monopoly on the issue.
BUT, when a candidate says if he does not win the elections it means there automatically was massive cheating. That is a very DANGEROUS, IRRESPONSIBLE, and HIGHLY MISGUIDED statement to make. As excellently pointed out by benign0′ in the comment thread of “A Noynoy Aquino administration could be the modern-day version of the Marcos regime”.
Here is Noynoy again sowing the seeds of rebellion in
Aquino Says Philippine Poll Fraud May Trigger Turmoil
By Francisco Alcuaz Jr. and Haslinda Amin
April 27 (Bloomberg) — Philippine presidential frontrunner Benigno Aquino said only fraud can stop him winning next month’s election and any such attempt would trigger unrest comparable with the protests that swept his mother to power 24 years ago.
The 50-year-old son of former president Corazon Aquino, who has led opinion surveys since entering the race last year, criticized how a switch to electronic voting machines is being implemented and said a declaration that he is the loser of the May 10 poll would bring supporters on to the streets.
“If we have a correct counting of the votes, I think we will be very victorious,” said Aquino, whose mother toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos amid protests that followed a rigged election in 1986. If “the people’s will is frustrated,” demonstrations could make this month’s protests in Thailand seem “mild” by comparison, he said in an interview in Manila yesterday.
So ano ito?
IF Noynoy wins THEN the elections are clean;
IF Noynoy loses THEN the elections are fraudulent.
WHAT KIND OF LOGIC IS THAT?
This pretty much indicates his feeling of ENTITLEMENT to the seat in Malacanang. If that ain’t a DANGEROUS ATTITUDE I don’t know what is.
Brace yourselves for an anti-ocho-ocho “revolution” campaign lads as we need to take a concerted stand against PRIMITIVIST initiatives like these, initiatives that only the MEDIEVAL MIND of Noynoy Aquino and the vacuous intellect of his followers can mount.
Filipinos deserve better from the Aquinos, Lopezes, Drilons, Abads, Roxases, and all the oligarch families bankrolling the Aquino campaign. Nay, Filipinos need to step up to the perennial challenge presented by oligarchs and the vested interests of the clans of the feudal old world which is still very much alive in the Philippines today.
Yes, the oligarchs of the Philippines are very real, prompting TIME magazine to write “Yet, for all the zeal he inspires, aquino himself is also a product of the status quo. Both his parents, Ninoy and Cory, came from pedigreed stock — landed, aristocratic families that have long been part of the ruling establishment. Similarly, Aquino’s vice-presidential running mate, Mar Roxas, is the grandson of Manuel Roxas, the country’s first President. Arroyo, their erstwhile foe, is the daughter of Diosdado Macapagal, another President from the early days of the republic. And though they eventually faced each other as enemies, Ninoy and Marcos were members of the same fraternity at an elite Philippine university. Like a pantomime of ancient Rome, Manila’s political landscape has been shaped for generations by the intimacies and vendettas of an entrenched rank of patricians.”
Philippine Elections Will Not Always Be Fraudulent
First off – a shameless plug – thank goodness for Sen. Richard Gordon’s effort to automate the elections!
The COMELEC is currently doing all it can to get a credible and world-class automated election going on. The best thing that Aquino, LP, and the yellow zombies can do is to support and take part in the testing of the machines, spreading information on how to use the machines properly INSTEAD of spreading disinformation.
I am of the opinion that Aquino, LP, and ABS-CBN would rather have manual counting BECAUSE IT IS EASIER TO COMMIT FRAUD and easier to destroy the credibility of the results if the elections were conducted manually. Thus, it is not surprising that ABS-CBN, LP, Aquino and his yellow zombies want a parallel manual count. Well, for startrers – if Aquino hadn’t been such a lazy ass, he could have included this measure in the automation act – and provided funding for it.
Who exactly is going to fund the manual counting? What is the motive behind the people funding the manual counting? Is it to validate the automated count? Note that voters have hard copies of their votes. Voters can be instructed to keep their printouts for use in an exit poll – instead of having voters vote twice – one manual and one automated. Para que pa na nag automate tayo? Aquino’s whining is approaching the limits of incredulity.
Opinion Polls Are Not Fool-Proof
Noynoy needs to be reminded that, based on the poll surveys, 60% of Filipinos are not in favor of Aquino. There is no reason to exclude the possibility that 80% of this 60% – or at least 48% of registered voters can change their minds and vote for a candidate who is not an Aquino and who can happen to be any of Aquino’s opponents.
While it is true that the polling companies have refined their methodologies, once in awhile even the famed Gallup polls made some inaccurate calls. The suprising results of the 1948 Truman-Dewey US Presidential elections seem so far away, the Shy Tories of 1992 are more recent. The more recent elections make mention of a reverse Bradley Effect on Obama’s electoral performance.
What did the pollsters themselves have to say on the source of the error? Are opinion polls accurate surveys or are opinion polls bad forecasts? Remember Truman?
The Broken Compass: Opinion Polls
The reaction of MSM and yellow zombies about the survey results has been predictable. Gordon is sourgraping, jealousy, yada yada yada. Apparently, Gordon is on to something. A cursory reading provides more ammo to be able to make an informed decision. Is there an iota of truth that opinion polls can create bandwagon effects and thereby wind up influencing the elections. Here’s more:
By providing information about voting intentions, opinion polls can sometimes influence the behavior of electors, and in his book The Broken Compass, Peter Hitchens asserts that opinion polls are actually a device for influencing public opinion. The various theories about how this happens can be split up into two groups: bandwagon/underdog effects, and strategic (“tactical”) voting.
A bandwagon effect occurs when the poll prompts voters to back the candidate shown to be winning in the poll. The idea that voters are susceptible to such effects is old, stemming at least from 1884; reported that it was first used in a political cartoon in the magazine Puck in that year. It has also remained persistent in spite of a lack of empirical corroboration until the late 20th century. George Gallup spent much effort in vain trying to discredit this theory in his time by presenting empirical research. A recent meta-study of scientific research on this topic indicates that from the 1980s onward the Bandwagon effect is found more often by researchers.
The opposite of the bandwagon effect is the underdog effect. It is often mentioned in the media. This occurs when people vote, out of sympathy, for the party perceived to be “losing” the elections. There is less empirical evidence for the existence of this effect than there is for the existence of the bandwagon effect.
The second category of theories on how polls directly affect voting is called strategic or tactical voting. This theory is based on the idea that voters view the act of voting as a means of selecting a government. Thus they will sometimes not choose the candidate they prefer on ground of ideology or sympathy, but another, less-preferred, candidate from strategic considerations. An example can be found in the United Kingdom general election, 1997. As he was then a Cabinet Minister, Michael Portillo’s constituency of Enfield Southgate was believed to be a safe seat but opinion polls showed the Labour candidate Stephen Twigg steadily gaining support, which may have prompted undecided voters or supporters of other parties to support Twigg in order to remove Portillo. Another example is the boomerang effect where the likely supporters of the candidate shown to be winning feel that chances are slim and that their vote is not required, thus allowing another candidate to win.
These effects indicate how opinion polls can directly affect political choices of the electorate. But directly or indirectly, other effects can be surveyed and analyzed on on all political parties. The form of media framing and party ideology shifts must also be taken under consideration. Opinion polling in some instances is a measure of cognitive bias, which is variably considered and handled appropriately in its various applications.
Hitchens wrote that
“After ten years in which the Tory party was treated as a laughable outcast, it is particularly startling to see how things have altered”, and states that one of his motivations in writing the book was to “frustrate the exercise” of the media machine attempting to create a Tory revival, which is itself an odd exercise, since [such media machine] “desires a different government, not because it will bring about change, but because it will not”.
Doesn’t that sound a lot like Inquirer, ABS-CBN, Noynoy Aquino and his yellow zombies?
Opinion Polls and the Heisenberg Principle
The finding that “from the 1980s onward the bandwagon effect is found more often” support Gordon’s assertions quite well.
In the quantum world, the phenomena described by Hitchens is consistent with the observer effect which should not be confused with the Heisenberg Principle aka the Uncertainty Principle.
|In physics, the term observer effect refers to changes that the act of observation will make on the phenomenon being observed. This is often the result of instruments that, by necessity, alter the state of what they measure in some manner. A commonplace example is checking the pressure in an automobile tire; this is difficult to do without letting out some of the air, thus changing the pressure. This effect can be observed in many domains of physics.|
Having said that, let’s step into the world of quantum physics. How can this be relevant? Consider the following assumptions before reading on:
1. Person being intervewed = atomic particle
2. Poll questionnaire = Heisenberg microscope.
3. Opinion poll = act of measuring
|The Uncertainty Principle
The uncertainty principle is often stated this way:
The measurement of position necessarily disturbs a particle’s momentum, and vice versa
This makes the uncertainty principle a kind of observer effect.
This explanation is not incorrect, and was used by both Heisenberg and Bohr. But they were working within the philosophical framework of logical positivism. In this way of looking at the world, the true nature of a physical system, inasmuch as it exists, is defined by the answers to the best-possible measurements which can be made in principle. To state this differently, if a certain property of a system cannot be measured beyond a certain level of accuracy (in principle), then this limitation is a limitation of the system and not the limitation of the devices used to make this measurements. So when they made arguments about unavoidable disturbances in any conceivable measurement, it was obvious to them that this uncertainty was a property of the system, not of the devices.
Today, logical positivism has become unfashionable in many cases, so the explanation of the uncertainty principle in terms of observer effect can be misleading. For one, this explanation makes it seem to the non positivist that the disturbances are not a property of the particle, but a property of the measurement process— the particle secretly does have a definite position and a definite momentum, but the experimental devices we have are not good enough to find out what these are. This interpretation is not compatible with standard quantum mechanics. In quantum mechanics, states which have both definite position and definite momentum at the same time just don’t exist.
This explanation is misleading in another way, because sometimes it is a failure to measure the particle that produces the disturbance. For example, if a perfect photographic film contains a small hole, and an incident photon is not observed, then its momentum becomes uncertain by a large amount. By not observing the photon, we discover indirectly that it went through the hole, revealing the photon’s position.
The third way in which the explanation can be misleading is due to the nonlocal nature of a quantum state. Sometimes, two particles can be entangled, and then a distant measurement can be performed on one of the two. This measurement should not disturb the other particle in any classical sense, but it can sometimes reveal information about the distant particle. This restricts the possible values of position or momentum in strange ways.
Unlike the other examples, a distant measurement will never cause the overall distribution of either position or momentum to change. The distribution only changes if the results of the distant measurement are known. A secret distant measurement has no effect whatsoever on a particle’s position or momentum distribution. But the distant measurement of momentum for instance will still reveal new information, which causes the total wavefunction to collapse. This will restrict the distribution of position and momentum, once that classical information has been revealed and transmitted.
For example If two photons are emitted in opposite directions from the decay of positronium, the momenta of the two photons are opposite. By measuring the momentum of one particle, the momentum of the other is determined, making its momentum distribution sharper, and leaving the position just as indeterminate. But unlike a local measurement, this process can never produce more position uncertainty than what was already there. It is only possible to restrict the uncertainties in different ways, with different statistical properties, depending on what property of the distant particle you choose to measure. By restricting the uncertainty in p to be very small by a distant measurement, the remaining uncertainty in x stays large. (This example was actually the basis of Albert Einstein’s important suggestion of the EPR paradox in 1935.)
This queer mechanism of quantum mechanics is the basis of quantum cryptography, where the measurement of a value on one of two entangled particles at one location forces, via the uncertainty principle, a property of a distant particle to become indeterminate and hence unmeasurable.
But Heisenberg did not focus on the mathematics of quantum mechanics, he was primarily concerned with establishing that the uncertainty is actually a property of the world — that it is in fact physically impossible to measure the position and momentum of a particle to a precision better than that allowed by quantum mechanics. To do this, he used physical arguments based on the existence of quanta, but not the full quantum mechanical formalism.
This was a surprising prediction of quantum mechanics, and not yet accepted. Many people would have considered it a flaw that there are no states of definite position and momentum. Heisenberg was trying to show this was not a bug, but a feature—a deep, surprising aspect of the universe. To do this, he could not just use the mathematical formalism, because it was the mathematical formalism itself that he was trying to justify.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncertainty_principle#Uncertainty_principle_and_observer_effect, Accessed: 04/28/2010
Are the laws of quantum physics not applicable to elections? I am inclined to believe that it applies to election as well.
Is regulating election polls even possible?
The sounds radical to Pinoys, BUT, actually – it makes sense to the rest of the world. How exactly? Here’s a study on regulating election polls by Olaf Petersson, Research Director, Democratic Audit of Sweden, Centre for Business and Policy Studies, Stockholm, August 2003:
|The fear of undue influence on voters is the reason why many democracies have discussed and quite a few have decided to regulate the publication of election polls. The controversy around election polling shows that several difficult questions arise. Do polls really influence voting behaviour? Is a total or partial ban on election polls compatible with basic democratic principles such as the freedom of the press? Could a national embargo on the publication of polls really be effective in a world of Internet and global media?
The impact of opinion polls: theory and evidence
Early in the history of mass surveys both scholars and politicians started to worry about their possible effects. This might be the social science equivalent to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle: measuring public opinion would change public opinion. A pioneer team of election researchers found evidence for a bandwagon effect: electoral behaviour was obviously influenced by perceptions of the likely winner (Lazarsfeld et al. 1944).
The theoretical problem was solved by Herbert Simon, who came up with a mathematical demonstration of how self-correcting polls could be designed (Simon 1954). As long as the voter reaction function is known the published figures might be adjusted so that the subsequent voter opinion would match the initially observed values. But since the exact voter reaction is never known, Simon’s proof remains elegant but useless.
The measurement of polling effects is problematic since there are several theoretical ways in which the publication of a poll can change a voter’s electoral choice. The famous underdog effect assumes that a political party or candidate gains by a positive polling trend. But there are other hypothetical effects than this simple version of the spiral of silence theory (Noelle-Neumann 1982). One should add that there might also be important indirect effects, linking polling results with voter reaction via the impact upon party strategies, media bias and other channels.
This variety of hypothetical effects, and an abundance of experimental as well as non-experimental empirical data, have lead some observers to completely discard the problem of possible effects: ‘As a whole, the effects remain first of all minimal and secondly they can be seen as completely harmless’ (Donsbach 2001).
Obviously many different factors determine why and how people vote, and no one would argue that opinions polls are a major cause. But there is strong evidence that opinion polls under certain circumstances might in fact influence election results (Holmberg and Petersson 1980; Petersson and Holmberg 1998). One important example is proportional election systems with a threshold limit, such as Germany, Poland, Denmark, and Sweden. Surveys show that tactical voting, that is whether or not to support a party close to the barrier for parliamentary representation, is partially based on media reporting of poll data.
Although there is some empirical support for polls influencing elections the normative conclusion is not obvious. In an open society with freedom of speech there are many examples showing how citizens are influenced by different kinds of information. The publication of economic forecasts sometimes have a tremendous impact on consumers and investors. Political opinion data might help voters who want to use their vote for tactical purposes (Särlvik 1971).
A study from 1997, commissioned by international polling organizations, found that 30 of 78 countries had some kind of embargo concerning publication on or prior to election days. In 9 cases the embargo applied to the election day only (Røhme 1997).
One of the most restrictive regulation of polls in a democracy was introduced in France in 1977. The law made it illegal to ‘publish, disseminate or comment’ on opinion polls during the week preceding an election. The law did not prohibit actual polling, but tried to shield voters from knowing the results. The law also contained rules on the publication of polls between elections. Any publication of a poll must include information about the identity of the polling organization, sample size and time of fieldwork.
Over the years the law became more and more inefficient. Polling before the election continued, but the results were restricted to political insiders. The general public was not given access to the polls, except via foreign media and the Internet. The constitutionality of the law was also questioned. Finally, the law was changed (Law 2002-214). The embargo was reduced from one week to two days. Polls can now be published freely, except on election day and the day preceding the election.
The modification of the French legislation indicates a growing consensus in Europe. Election polls are more frequent than ever and concerns about their detrimental effects are often voiced. However, legislation is not seen as the main instrument. Many countries primarily rely on the self-regulation of media institution and continuing public debate to raise general awareness about the limitation of opinion polls.
The Council of Europe, with its 45 member states, has discussed the need to harmonize national legislation about election polls, but refrained from doing so. Instead in 1999 The Council of Europe in issued a recommendation concerning media coverage of election campaigns (R (99) 15).
The Council of Europe recommendation underlines both the independence of media and the responsibility of media professionals. Opinion polls are mentioned in section III.2:
Regulatory or self-regulatory frameworks should ensure that the media, when disseminating the results of opinion polls, provide the public with sufficient information to make a judgement on the value of the polls. Such information could, in particular:
– name the political party or other organisation or person which commissioned and paid for the poll;
– identify the organisation conducting the poll and the methodology employed;
– indicate the sample and margin of error of the poll;
– indicate the date and/or period when the poll was conducted.
All other matters concerning the way in which the media present the results of opinion polls should be decided by the media themselves.
Any restriction by member States forbidding the publication/broadcasting of opinion polls (on voting intentions) on voting day or a number of days before the election should comply with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights.
Similarly, in respect of exit polls, member States may consider prohibiting reporting by the media on the results of such polls until all polling stations in the country have closed.
These non-binding rules could be considered as a set of generally accepted standards in today’s Europe. Legislative regulation might be accepted to protect the election day itself, but should otherwise be kept at a minimum.
Council of Europe, Recommendation R (99) 15, http://cm.coe.int/ta/rec/1999/99r15.htm
Donsbach, W., 2001. Election Polls? Normative and Empirical Arguments for the Freedom of Pre-Election Surveys, The Foundation for Information, ESOMAR.
Holmberg, S., and Petersson, O., 1980. Inom felmarginalen. En bok om politiska opinionsundersökningar, Publica, Stockholm.
Lazarsfeld, P. F., Berelson, B., and Gaudet, H., 1944. The People’s Choice. How the Voter Makes up his Mind in a Presidential Campaign, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, New York.
Noelle-Neumann, E., 1982. Die Schweigespirale. Öffentliche Meinung: unsere soziale Haut, Ullstein, Frankfurt a.M. [1984, The Spiral of Silence: Public Opinion, Our Social Skin, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.]
Petersson, O., and Holmberg, S., 1998. Opinionsmätningarna och demokratin, SNS Förlag, Stockholm.
Røhme, N., 1997. The Freedom to Publish Opinion Polls. Report on a Worldwide Survey, The Foundation for Information, ESOMAR.
Simon, H. A., 1954. ‘Bandwagon and underdog effects in election predictions’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 18, 245–253.
Särlvik, B., 1971. ’Yttrande’, Valbarometern. Ett radionämndsärende, Sveriges Radios Förlag, Stockholm.
Obviously, the notion of regulating election opinion polls in the Philippines is within the bounds of reason. As far as the Western democracies are concerned – it’s a “been there done that” proposition.
The Equally Great Challenge of the 2010 Elections is in Protecting the Integrity of the Process
It is not enough to have candidates with integrity. We also need to secure the integrity of the electoral process from the threat of demagogues like Noynoy and the yellow zombie minting factory of ABS-CBN.
I don’t mind if Noynoy Aquino wins through a credible election. I will just have to deal with it – that’s how democracy works. Looking at the bright side – AP will have a lot of stuff to write about if Aquino wins.
I do mind if Aquino wins because the elections were scuttled.
The proactive way therefore is to ensure that the elections go on as planned. The full integrity must be secured because if the elections don’t push through – it will be a double-edged sword that works not just for Arroyo, but it can also work for Aquino, or any military adventurist – but not for the Philippines.