To Bolt’s readers – let us hope that you’re a little sharper than the author of the site from whence you came, understanding both a well known political meme when you see one, and the importance of empirical reality guiding political commentary. If you can also manage to leave your dramaqueens at the door and spare me the poor little victim bullshit, you’ll be four points up on Bolt himself.
Something else you might be interested in knowing – Bolt removed the link to this article in his latest spiel after the above little update was posted, reinforcing the “Undescended Testicle of the Internet” meme described below. After his blog was caught out and a few of us had much mirth about it on Twitter, it miraculously reappeared! You can read all about it and Bolt’s problems here. Andrew – man up and grow a pair will you, or at least get your online minder to grow some for you.
You know what shits me to tears, I mean really shits me to tears to the point where pulling someone’s arm off and beating them to death with their own severed limb starts sounding like one of the more civilised responses available?
It’s when MSM sites like this herd the dross of the internet into advertising, by tickling the bigoted little underbellies of their audience with pig-ignorant bullshit being masqueraded around as “fact”.
And there is no larger magnet for outright bigotry than asylum seekers.
With refugees it’s literally Moral Panic Bingo; Islam, terrorists, race, xenophobia – refugees are the ultimate canvas upon which the shallow end of the public affairs pool can paint their own preferred pathological animosities. If you don’t believe me, then undertake an experiment:
Write down 9 favourite themes of the small minded nutjob set, not specifically about any given thing, any old generically bigoted idiocy will do – then pop on over to the usual creatures that prey on such feeble minded antipathy and read the comments sections on any post they have about asylum seekers. Every time one of your predicted themes is mentioned by a commenter, mark it off – you won’t have to read far before you’ll be shouting “Wingnut Bingo!”.
Of all the Wingnut Bingo halls in the land, there is none bigger than that hosted by The Undescended Testicle.*
He started yesterday with his sneering innuendo, of asylum seekers being “Lured by Rudd to their deaths?”. There really are no boundaries that Bolt’s hysterical Rudd Rage refuses to cross – although the only thing really being “lured” here are miscreants by the bucketful into Andrew Bolt’s site –herding the dross of the internet into News Ltd advertising by playing up to their shallow and spiteful little fantasies.
Bolt’s argument is as predictable as it is convenient – Rudd is being soft on border protection and as a result, increasing hordes of refugees are arriving on our fair shores. He doesn’t quite go so far as to mention rape and pillage – he seems to save that meme for the Sudanese and Somali’s. In fact, he’s put on his Mister Caring and Sharing righteous Rudd Rage face today – it’s all about the lives of the people he’s so often demonised you see.. roads, conversion and Damascus – that type of thing.
His problem is that everyone else in journo land (apart from that wretched little Poison Dwarf seen on Sky Nooz Agenda yesterday, to accurately describe my thoughts on that creature’s performance is to invite a law suit) has actually made the effort to find out about the reality of the asylum seeker figures and have treated the current situation accordingly in their reporting of the matter. Quite a sophisticated, sensitive and highly responsible approach for which the entire industry, apart from the notable few, deserve a marvelous round of applause.
But oh no, not our Caped Crusader for the Cretinous – he accuses Philip Coorey of following government talking point memo’s for having the audacity to state the obvious, that “The number of asylum seekers has surged worldwide since 2007, and the greater number coming to Australia has been part of that trend.”
Bolt reckons Amnesty international is part of the conspiracy for quoting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees saying the same thing. Even Michelle Grattan is accused of being some government mouthpiece for writing “a refugee tide is swelling around the world…the modest rise (in Australia) reflects the general international trend.”
“But how true is all this really?” asks The Undescended Testicle – as if it were actually a real question rather than an invitation to the feeble minded, to vent spleen about shit they know not.
“Yes, the UN High Commission for Refugees reported a 12 per cent increase world-wide of asylum claims in 2008, but noted a much bigger increase in Australia and New Zealand – 19 per cent” he proclaimed, with a sort of mathematical naivete usually found in housebricks.
Let’s look at these numbers – between 2007 and 2008, global asylum applications increased by 41,580 while Australian applications increased by 779. The enormous disparity between those two numbers would give a numerate person pause to consider the meaning of the word “variance”. A very small change in the Australian numbers will have large implications for the percentage change in any given year. To show how sensitive these numbers are, in 2008 there were 4750 asylum applications made – a 19.6% increase from the 2007 numbers.
If 250 less people made applications, that percentage would have reduced to 13.3%.
What’s 250 people I hear you ask? Why, it’s one people smuggling operation.
So the percentage change in Australia of asylum applications in any given year is highly sensitive – to the point where we really have to look at the reality over a number of years to allow us to start drawing conclusions.
His argument is that global asylum seeker numbers have no bearing on Australian numbers, that it’s local factors that cause the Australian figures – local factors like, er, Kevin Rudd.
So let’s take Bolt’s pig-ignorant horseshit out the back and kill it.
First up, let’s compare global and Australian asylum number applications, yearly, since 1990. All of the following analysis, charts and bits and pieces are, unlike Andrew Bolt, my own work based on my own research for which I am professionally qualified to undertake.
That clearly looks like a bit or correlation there in the movement of the two series through time, so let’s change that exact same data into a scatter plot, to give us a different perspective and run a regression line through it to point out the bleedingly obvious.
OK, denying the numerical reality of correlation here is starting to border on the completely fucking ridiculous. But let us not stop here – we all know that correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation, but we do have some statistical tools up our sleeve to go one better than mere simple correlation, we can look for the existence of a thing called granger causality.
Granger causality might sound a bit high falootin’, but it’s pretty easy to get your head around once it’s explained. Effectively, it’s correlation on steroids.
Let’s say we have two data series, x and y, where each series represents the value of some variable at some consistent period of time. The monthly unemployment rate is an example of such a series, quarterly GDP growth is another.
What granger causality tests do is firstly, determine how much of the current value of a series (say series y) can be explained by previous values of y, and then determines whether by adding lagged values of the other series x (lagged values, as in the values of last month, the month before, the month before that etc) we can increase that explanatory power.
If previous values of x can help predict future values of y at a statistically significant level, then we can say that x granger causes y. It’s not causation in the literal sense, but it is as close to statistical causation that can be proven – and it is far more rigorous than mere correlation.
We don’t have enough data to do this test with the yearly data set, but fortunately for us, and unfortunately for The Undescended Testicle and his piffle peddling, there is another, higher resolution data set at the UNHCR – asylum applications from 2000 to 2008, calculated quarterly.
We can then calculate from that data the percentage change in asylum applications, per quarter, for both Australia and globally – when we do, this is what it looks like:
This data may look messy, and to the naked eye it is – but what the naked eye might not show (depending on how professionally nerdy you are) is the vast wealth of information contained with in it, which is what we are going to extract.
This series gives us just enough observations to test for Granger Causality and be confident of its results – so breaking out the trusty Eviews econometric software, our test results come in like this:
The two series here are PCHANGEAUS which is the percentage change in quarterly asylum applications in Australia, and PCCHANGETOTAL which is the percentage change in quarterly asylum applications made globally. (for the statistical aficionados out there, the test results for the simple first difference of the quarterly numbers, rather than the percentage change results are virtually identical)
We are testing a null hypothesis that says “the quarterly change in Australian asylum applications does not granger cause the quarterly change in global numbers”. With a probability value of 0.46, we cannot reject this null hypothesis – we cannot reject the statement that changes in Australian application numbers do not granger cause changes in global application numbers. That’s to be expected – we don’t expect the world to be the slave of the Australian experience, but what about the opposite – is Australia a slave to the global experience?
With the hypothesis “The change in global numbers does not granger cause the change in Australian numbers”, we have a probability score of 0.03, which means in very rough terms, we can be over 95% confident that this hypothesis can be rejected, we are 95% sure that this statement is false and that changes in global application numbers over the previous four quarters do indeed explain changes in the number of asylum applications that Australia experiences.
We can say, confidently, that changes in the numbers of global asylum applications granger cause the changes in the numbers of Australian asylum applications.
We can say that global levels of asylum seekers, and the global trends they create, do indeed significantly affect Australian asylum application numbers, and come as close to causing those numbers as one can statistically get.
So Andrew Bolt should shut the fuck up and stop spreading bullshit around when it is very clearly not true.
In fact, so seriously pathetic is this broader argument of his that we only need to look at the yearly data to clobber it.
Well look at that, asylum application numbers have been increasing since 2005!
Now there’s an inconvenient truth, and one that no amount of hysterical Rudd Rage will explain away.
Apologies to those that normally expect a more polite and civilised Possum, but honestly, sometimes you need to make a damn point.
* The Undescended Testicle.
Andrew Bolt doesn’t like criticism – fair enough, but the cure for that is to stop writing bullshit – anyways, he especially doesn’t like criticism when it pings him exactly for what he does. He really, really, really doesn’t like that kind of criticism when it comes from Crikey. A while ago there was a flair up with Bolt over Somali crime numbers, where Bolt couldn’t ignore what was said here (our readership is too widespread, and there was far too much mirth going on in the blogosphere at his expense over it all), but neither could he confront it properly because to do so would be to send his readers to a complete takedown of their hero, that describes many of them as the suckers they are. So the poor princess was in a bit of a pickle.
But rather than have the balls to link into the article here and address it properly, he used just one ball and quoted very, very selectively from the article (in comments too) in such a way as to remove all context and pretend I was actually agreeing with what he was on about.
He has enough balls to selectively confront his detractors, but not enough balls to do it in the open and transparent way that is the acceptable norm of the modern online world.
He is The Undescended Testicle of the Internetz
Elsewhere: Ken Parish at Club Troppo, Robert Merkel at Larvatus Prodeo, The Piping Shrike, Agmates, Pure Poison (of course!), Andrew Bartlett, The Political Sword, Jack the Insider with a terrific piece.