Monday, 6 December 2010

What's the use of social statistics? Data or anecdotes?


As I will be embarking on the attempt to pull-together my thoughts on political correctness, I will be confronted by the necessity to frame the argument.

Do I use statistics? Do I provide heavy referencing for my statements?

'No' and 'no' is going to be the answer.

Instead I will try to present a rational argument. 


I have just bee reading Mencius Moldbug's comments on a thread at Mangan's - - and MM is very insightful on this, from a historian's perspective. I reached similar conclusions from the angle of medical science.


The way that large scale data sets and statistics are actually used is to control the discourse, maintain uncertainty, to exclude refutation.

A single data set that (no matter how wrong) appears to support PC is spread across the media of the world in a few hours; but no amount of data in refutation of PC is ever enough: and what there is is subject to hyper-critical and incompetent dissection.

The Bell Curve 'controversy' is a clear example of this phenomenon.  The data were as straightforward and clear as any such data realistically ever can be, and yet...

And big data collection is very expensive, so that it is always under primary control of big social systems (and reanalysis of the data, while possible, never compensates for the lack of primary control - fresh data is always spun to favour PC).


The main role of 'statistics' is merely to summarize unwieldy amounts of data. The prime statistic is the average.

Before proceeding further the first step is to decide whether averaging makes any sense - in medicine usually it does not - averaging merely creates artifacts of the 'an average of apples and oranges' variety.

What is the 'average' effect of a drug that leaves 3 people dead, 10 people unaffected and 7 people cured? Answer: there isn't an average effect : the minimum valuable statistical summary is 3, 10, 7.

Any attempt to condense the data further than this is an error. Yet this error is mainstream, standard in reporting of clinical trials.


The same kind of error is going on all the time in social statistics.

But the use of social statistics for propaganda is now much simpler and more obvious than this.

The UK was the best documented country in the world - with reliable statistics going back many hundreds of years: back to the Domesday Book of 1086.

Not any more. In the first place the national statistics are dishonest, in the second place they are incompetent (schoolboy errors abound), and in the third place they are grossly incomplete.


If the UK government really wants to take a problem off the map, they simply do not collect statistics on it, then attack any critics on the basis that their evidence is anecdotal.

One example I exposed was related to the 'quality' of university teaching, as supposedly-measured by the QAA (quality assurance agency) for higher education:

Yep the QAA did not collect data on university class sizes: still don't.

It could be done in a day, at the cost of the salary of about 250 man hours for a junior administrator.

But they don't do it.


Also they do not collect data on teaching contact hours.

The only available data (not from the government) suggest that in the UK teaching contact hours are the lowest in the civilized world


So if the government does not want something discussed, they simply don't collect data on it.

And if there is no data, the bureaucracy have created a 'climate' in which it would be 'scientifically' irresponsible to discuss matters.


Immigration is probably the biggest matter. Sustained, mass immigration at an unprecedented level is a very obvious feature in the UK, much of it 'illegal' or due to people claiming 'asylum' from poorer and more violent societies, or just people arriving undocumented and unable to speak and staying anyway... 

How much?

Who knows? Nobody knows.

Data are not being collected.

Hence there is zero discussion in the 'responsible' media.



What people experience in their lives.

But this is just anecdote.

And to raise an anecdote is personal, it means taking personal responsibility for evidence. It means being exposed to personal criticism for one's reported anecdotal experience.


But then governments use anecdote.

They use single instances to support argument - as when Gordon Brown used a failed Oxford applicant called Laura Spence to argue that the UK university system was biased against working class people, or state schools, or northerners, or something...:

This anecdote was false, mistaken, bizarrely ill informed, an incompetent mess - but it didn't make any difference.

The government got their way - university admissions was brought under state control, and now a PC system of allocating UK places according to social class quotas is in place. (It doesn't work - but it is in place).

So anecdote is forbidden: except when it supports PC projects.


In sum, the modern use of data is anti-truthful, the intellectual elite have proven themselves to be utterly corrupt.

Don't look for intellectual consistency here: there is none. 

The PC elite are indifferent to honesty and promote lies (see above), indifferent to beauty - indeed promote ugliness (see modern art and architecture), indifferent to virtue - indeed promote the opposite of what used to be regarded as virtue (see the rest of this blog).

This is done by mass consensus among the intellectual elite.

And they do not respond rationally to critique - not at all - but moralistically.

moral: that is the root of their concern.

Not virtue, morality.

And that morality is political correctness.


The refusal to collect statistics on universities and immigration/ asylum seekers is because these are PC/ multicultural/ inclusive projects - and data might get in the way of the goals. Therefore: no data.

The modern elite will sacrifice anything to political correctness - even the education and prosperity of their own children.

This political correctness is serious stuff!



If data could defeat political correctness, then PC would already have been defeated by Charles Murray - by himself and unaided. Or by Thomas Sowell. Or Steve Sailer.

That, on the contrary, PC has grown and thriven and spread and tightened its vice-like grip should be sufficient evidence that PC is not threatened by data: PC has data under control.


PC will not be defeated by rational debate: no it won't.  Nor by evidence.

PC will be defeated by itself, of course, if it lasts long enough; or else it will be defeated before this by the strongest/ most determined/ most relentless remaining group that is not PC.

Political correctness will not, will never, be converted by reason and evidence. In all probability PC personnel will be replaced, not converted.


For PC (as for most humans) morality trumps any amount of reason and evidence.

PC could only be converted by a higher morality i.e. a religion, which seems, at the moment, in the West... very unlikely.


1 comment:

a Finn said...

Ruling class often reserves special information areas to itself, one way or another. The information might be such that the subjects don't understand it (complex information, requires certain level of intelligence and/or education); access to it is restricted by e.g. rituals and qualifications received from the ruling class; the information has been obfuscated with e.g. mystification and selective lies; the really important information is drowned into a sea of irrelevant information and the subjects' attention is directed into the irrelevance; the important information is protected by forbidding taboos and punishments, and deliberate ignorance is rewarded; and/or education is designed in such a way that the subjects are almost universally capable of only upholding and perhaps developing the present system, but are almost incapable (words, concepts, formulas, ways of thinking) of thinking possibilities outside the system. When these are used in combinations they leave statistically and probabilistically only a residue of knowledgeable opposition, which then can be neutralized by straightforward police operations, trumped up tax charges, denial of access to publicity, denial of access to work and wages, etc.

After all this the system declares it to be the protector of free speech and freedom.