Apr 17, 2009

Why Andrew Bolt should be Sodomised with a Calculator – Part 142

To Bolt's readers - let us hope that you're a little sharper than the author of the site from whence you came, understanding

Possum Comitatus — Editor of Pollytics

Possum Comitatus

Editor of Pollytics

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.

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83 thoughts on “Why Andrew Bolt should be Sodomised with a Calculator – Part 142

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  9. Troublein321

    Mate, POS, you shouldn’t put your head up there. It’s dark, it smells bad and the human body really wasn’t designed to bend in that way…

  10. Mick Pacholli

    What a knob. Even opening on the page of his diabolical drivel makes me shudder.

  11. BH

    Poss I am a bit late in telling you that this is a gem and how I have longed for someone to say it.

    Thanks heaps

  12. Tom Mullin

    Well said Possum. I have a cunning theory (sorry) that there is an element of Australian society that, roughly (we are talking abount intellectual midgets here) have a race memory that they were the first boat people. Just, barely, pipping the French to the post.

    So they have a genetic memory of being faced by new, perhap better, stronger, faster, smarter (not that that is saying much) boat people. It hits a recessive gene in their makeup (all that inbreeding) that goes “NO WE WERE HERE FIRST – SAVE US”.

    I have a better idea lets take the AB’s of Australia and buy them boats. Send them out there into the ocean fighting off those hoards. Or more likely sinking themselves (can you imagine these clowns on a boat, it would make the “upper class” twits Olympics look serious). On the positive side it would help the much depleted shark population.

    And the uninterrupted arrival of these people would improve the gene pool of the country … I call that a win-win situation.

  13. RICK68

    Andrew Bolt who pours scorn and bile on the ABC,tells the world he is on the ABC insiders Sunday, and he loves it. What a … [SNIP Be nice …… Poss ]

  14. Daniel B

    It just needs a tagline, Maddox-style, i.e:

    “4 325 895 Afghan asylum seekers boarded boats to Australia after reading Andrew Bolt.”

  15. Cat

    Thanks Possum. I feel much better after reading that. I knew I should have dropped in more often 🙂

  16. bob1234 – latest Newspoll, 58-42 unchanged.

    27% say Labor handles the issue of asylum seekers better, against 26% for the coalition. 6% for someone else, and a whopping 41% for none/uncommitted.

    Tighter laws to reduce the number of asylum seekers?

    Yes/will reduce – 36%
    No/no difference – 57%

    That splits 31 to 64 for Labor voters, and 47 to 46 for coalition voters.

  17. RICK68

    GEE he did look good in Iraq, in his flak-jacket, in the green-zone, and then telling us the war was over—Andrew Bolt the armchair war columist.

  18. Possum Comitatus


    TUT was bagging the media for repeating the info that there’s currently an increase in the global trend of asylum seekers and that Australia was part of this trend – his argument being that it’s actually Rudd’s policy that’s causing it rather than anything happening globally…. the whole “Rudd is luring these people to their deats” spiel. Hence the granger to knock that silliness on the head.

    Once you look at the proportions, it really does show Australia is getting off really lightly in terms of the broader movement of people seeking asylum.

    Unfortunately we can’t post pics here in comments – but you can use a site like to host the image and then post the link here.

  19. dogma

    Andrew Bolt will be ever remembered by the name of The Undecended Testicle or TUT for short, or if you think he’s gone below the belt, he should be TUT TUT.

  20. AoverT

    G’day folks, First time poster here…so be kind!

    Absolutely loved the post Poss, but was wondering why you needed to use Granger Causality. It doesn’t seem that causality is the issue here because the undescended testicle (love the term – keep it up) is arguing that the proportion of asylum applications is larger than it used to be rather than anything to do with causal effects.

    I looked at the quarterly applications for asylum made to Australia as a percentage of the world total over 2000 to 2008 (UNHRC data – thanks for posting the link). The Australian % of world applications decreased from 3% to about 1% in mid 2002. It remained around that 1% mark until around late 2005. Since then, there’s been a shallow upwards trend through both the Rodent’s and Rudd’s reign. The % of Australian applications now sits at around 1.5% of the world total. I’d be happy to post the graph, but I’m not sure how. There’s no big jump since Rudd took over, although I don’t have any 2009 data

    Sorry to say Patrick-54, the data shows that the scaremongering undescended testicle is completely off the mark and the planet, however you look at it!

    All power to you Poss & keep up the awesome blog.

  21. Luckydave

    Possum your data helps the pro-humanitarian cause to be fit and better prepared. These debates are cyclic and the sooner we can shut them down and move on to the real tasks at hand of building communities that look after these individuals (now suck on that irony Liberal party) the better.

    With ANZAC day coming up it’s about time we started considering our real national values. Looking after the down trodden is one of those human values that as Australians we share.

    These refugees are from Afgahnistan. Do you need any more proof of refugee status? We know how terrible it is there, that’s why we have a military presence there!

    Possum, your contribution is critically important not so much the vitriolic attack on A Bolt (love the fervour), it is the fact that your analysis toughens up quantitatively the anti-racist, anti-Bolt arguments. Speed kills in these debates and your rapid analytical response fortified many opionion leaders. Bolt is a creature of the Liberal Party. They trot out the same old rhetoric on any of these “hot button” issues.

    Hard data to push back with is crucial. I’d advocate an edited “workplace” friendly edition of this article so that you can reach a broader audience.

    Paraphrasing David Marr from this morning’s insiders we should talk about “Refugees” not “Assylum Seekers” – 90% are proven to be Refugees.

    In my opinion, it is curious that many Australians who so proudly trace their ancestry back to the early fleets fail to see themselves as having boat people heritage?

    I recall (but couldn’t google) Jay Leno’s classic joke about Haitian Refugees off the coast of Florida, where the US Coast Guard was holding them back in the 90s. He said, of course us holding them out is racist – if it was a boat load of nymphomanic Swedish Women with their fallopian tubes tied — we’d be saying come on in.

    Debating the statistics is important, top stuff.

    We also need to debate the humanity. Beyond the statistics – we need to see ourselves in the refugees position.

    My theory on why many Australians are in favour of a Howardesque “tough line” on Refugees is that to consider being in that same position as these people is too difficult and too unlikely a scenario to comprehend. We end up sympathising with our Sailors more than the Refugees.

  22. mexicanbeemer

    Thanks Possum!! One thing that may have caused that small Increase is the global Economic downturn!

    Andrew Bolt is everything that is wrong with the Liberal Party, there was a time when people like Bolt and other similar Right Wing journos were well balanced but in the latter half of the Howard years they became obsessed with a dogma which was anything but commonsense or balanced which is a shame for I think Andrew Bolt is one of this Countries better journos.

  23. Diogenes


    Beautiful analysis. I’d like to point out that undescended testes are more likely to undergo a malignant transformation into a cancer. I’d argue that Andrew Bolt is a cancer on our society and that the best way to treat him is with, in the famous last words of Goethe, “More Light”.

  24. Possum Comitatus

    Beemer, the 779 figure was the difference between the two years. The UNHCR database says 2007 had 3971 asylum claims lodged in Australia compared to the 2008 figure of 4750 – the difference being 779.

  25. mexicanbeemer


    A quickie question is the 779 applications the total number of claims made in Australia for the 2007-2008 for if I have read that correctly that sounds a very low number considering the totally number of Immigrants and new born we have In Australia each year?

    or is that 779 a section of the over all refugee claims per year?

  26. Swing Lowe

    [Basically, you’re entire analysis is worthless.]

    And your contributions here are pointless.

  27. bob1234

    I love the responses from Patrick Fogarty on page 1 and 2. It goes to show that Possum’s thread really does tear the argument of the right to shreds and that there is no plausible retort.

  28. Possum Comitatus

    Patrick – if the thing “we really care about” in this debate was just boat arrivals (and that sounds a hell of a lot like the royal “we” there) – Bolt wouldn’t have been ranting on using asylum seeker application numbers as evidence, to wit:

    [But how true is all this really? 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]

    That ain’t boat numbers comrade, that’s asylum application numbers.

    If you want to start dictating what “we” should all be talking about, then you should probably start getting the protagonist of all this to agree first. Or at least get him on the same page as you reckon the rest of us should all be on.

  29. Patrick Fogarty

    Hey – the manic rant was an amusing read, nonetheless.

  30. Patrick Fogarty

    So are you admitting that analysing boat number arrivals (the thing that we really care about in this debate) and asylum seeker numbers might result in a different conclusion? Basically, you’re entire analysis is worthless.

  31. Possum Comitatus

    Thanks folks – glad you all enjoy.

    It’s just a shame that it has to be said in the first place.

    Patrick went:

    [I guess the AFP are in Bolt’s pocket by the looks of it too]

    That AFP allegation seems to have been nothing more than a product of Julie Bishop’s desperate imagination.

    Andos asked about boat arrival numbers – I’ve found a few different sets of numbers on this, but they don’t match up with each other! If anyone has a good link to a reliable set of data for just boat arrivals by year I’d love to see it.

    Steve – you can get me on twitter at:

    It’s Time went:
    [Perhaps the data should be seasonally adjusted, in the truest sense of the word.]

    The two real seasons for here are the general first quarter of the year contraction in numbers for the global total (stemming from the European total), and the 4th quarter of the year general contraction for Australian numbers. If I deseasonalise it, we aren’t really left with enough observations to run the granger test because of degrees of freedom issues. But even if we shrug that off and run the tests on the deseasonalised data, the results are almost identical anyway – so using the numbers raw at least keeps us in the “acceptable certainty” ballpark with the testing regime.

  32. Gary Bruce

    GP criticising Poss for name calling is like a reformed alcoholic criticising someone for drinking. GP was a master name caller before William settled him down with suspensions and threats there of.

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