Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Halloween in the Demagagosphere

DEMAGAGOSPHERE n. isang lugar kung saan ang mga tao ay ginagago. (a place where they attempt to fool all the people all the time); (Gr demos, Fil gago, Eng. sphere.)

OPENING THE THIRD EYE: Jaime T. Licauco, is described on the PDI front page today as an "Inquirer columnist and the country's foremost authority on inner mind development, paranormal phenomena and mysticism" gets his annual front page spot at Halloween time and this year is no exception. I caught him talking to Tina Monson Palma on television about his "research" which centers on reincarnation, soul mates, karma, the magic of crystals and, the centerpiece of his money-making Inner Mind Series seminars: opening your Third Eye. As the king of New Age loonies in the Philippine demagagosphere. has an endless stream of customers willing to open up their wallets for a chance at contacting dead loved ones, dwarves, elemental spirits of nature. Ms. Palma seemed to be just barely restraining herself from giggling at all these weird things coming from her talk show guest, and it wouldn't be so bad if Licauco didn't actually take his drivel seriously which he seemed to when he nearly freaked out his hostess with the following prescription for actually SEEING what you looked like in a previous lifetime: "Go to a room with a mirror that is lit only by a candle. Make sure the light is just enough for you to see the gleaming of your eyeballs. Then sit and stare at yourself in the gloom until your former self makes its appearance." What a nutcake! Poor Tina Monson Palma was shaking her head and gritting her teeth at this, while Licauco was grinning with big crooked teeth, like a hag.

CRONY PAPER: Meanwhile in the crony paper Philippine Star, its publisher and aging Lothario Max Soliven, continues to argue for people to just ignore the crimes of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and derides the efforts of people like former President Corazon Aquino to get at the truth because so many other truths have not come to light anyway. Yeah Max, and let's forget about catching all the murderers, rapists, and terrorists because there are so many of them running around unpunished. Of course, in the demagagosphere, casuistry and sophistry are the common tools for protecting your real interests. In his case those interests are being co-protected by Babes Romualdez (yes, that Romualdez family) and Quezon City mayor Sonny Belmonte, who are said to be the real owners at the top crony paper. I shall have occasion to review Babes Romualdez on a different occasion since he is also a Star columnist.

WINNUMERACY--It's the arithmetic, my precious: ECONOMIST and PDI Columnist Winnie Monsod may want to buy up all the existing copies of that major newspaper's Saturday edition containing her piece entitled Get Real--Truth Is Arroyo Won.

The truth is, this essay merely regurgitates the fallacious Palace argument that public opinion tracking polls on voter preferences during the 2004 election campaign period showed that GMA was gonna win anyway, so why would she cheat when she didn't have to?

It has been the position of the Palace, repeated here by Ms. Winnie, that GMA did not have to cheat in the elections because the Social Weather Stations tracking poll of voter preferences showed her leading Fernando Poe, Jr. 37% to his 30% in early May, 2004, with GMA's numbers trending upward while FPJ's were trending downward starting in April, 2004.

But does 30% + 37% equal 100% like it should for a true appreciation of what could've happened during the race. Ms. Winnie probably thinks that the statistical margin of error in these standard SWS polls is the only thing that matters (plus or minus 3%). She is absolutely wrong. There is no way for them to finesse the fact that five candidates were in this race, not two, and so the real "margin of error" (not the result of finite random sample size) would have to take into account the voter preference shares of Panfilo Lacson, Raul Roco and Eddie Villanueva. I know Ms. Winnie can spell "innumeracy" but that's for English class. It's the arithmetic, my precious! We could argue the details some, but the point is, that is WHY we hold elections and want them to be honest, because, no matter what anybody says, that is the only public opinion poll that counts! Otherwise we should just abolish democracy and let SWS choose our leaders. (Hmm...that might not be such a bad idea considering the present system and Comelec.)

Naive statistical and mathematical arguments trying to cover up for Gloria Macapagal's vote-rigging, are painful to hear coming from an otherwise learned person. I have a lot of respect for Ms. Winnie as an economist, but as a scientist myself, I must not let such stupidity as was disseminated in hundreds of thousands of copies last Saturday by Ms. Monsod and the Inquirer, pass unchallenged to poison the minds of the young and old alike. First we screw around with the arithmetic of opinions and before you know it we have big burly people with heavy guttural accents poking truncheons at priests and nuns and controversial government officials giving a new meaning to the term desaparecido. Ms. Winnie Monsod does exactly the same thing, superbly in most cases, when she comes upon pseudoscientific economic thinking. But now, Madame, you must take some of your own medicine.


ricelander said...

One thing about GMA: she provokes otherwise respectable, intelligent people to lose their sense of integrity and rationality and be very proud being blind to it. Now you know who's real...

R. O. said...

One thing dumfounding about Licauco: He always sounds so certain on so many things that are never scientifically provable in the first place.

Rizalist said...

xp: thing is, most of it really does go unchallenged. is it all in the name of press freedom, or is it that we don't really believe there is an inner core to human integrity?

ricelander: It's hard to swallow the lies isn't it? It really is like 1984, 21 years too late.