The School of Athens

The School of Athens
The School of Athens by Raphael (click on picture to view short documentary from Columbia University)

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Enough is enough! Back off bashing the ABC!

Fellow citizens,

As you would no doubt be aware, last weekend the Liberal Party’s peak council voted almost 2:1 to privatise the ABC. Never have the words "passed a motion" been so apt.

This is just the most recent attack, in a long line of attacks against OUR national broadcaster.

Time to say:

It's clear that it's only in the paranoid and fevered minds of the supporters of this motion that the ABC stands for Anarchists, Bolsheviks and Communists and is staffed by revolutionary fifth columnists with the express desire to undermine Australian democracy...or, in other words, to not let the Federal Coalition Government have a free run in the ABC's coverage of politics.  

Yet this is only THEIR warped perception based on THEIR political prejudices, as there is NO objective evidence that it reflects the public's view.
Exhibit A:

The "DIGITAL NEWS REPORT: AUSTRALIA 2018" by Sora Park, Caroline Fisher, Glen Fuller and Jee Young Lee NEWS & MEDIA RESEARCH CENTRE UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA (sample size 2,026) found:

"ABC News ranked the most trusted news brand overall"

"Despite strong perceptions of the ABC being left wing, [the research] shows the national broadcaster’s TV news attracts viewers evenly from across the political spectrum"

The full report can be found here

Exhibit B:

Research conducted between 27 March and 7 April 2018 by online agency Research Now (sample 1,557) concluded:

70% of respondents agreed a “strong, independent ABC is critical to a healthy democracy”.

60% of respondents agreed the ABC needs a “boost to long term funding”, including a majority of voters for all parties.

58% of respondents disagreed “The ABC and SBS should get less funding and provide fewer online and streaming services, so that they don't undermine commercial media”

The full report can be found here

Exhibit C:

Research published by Essential Research in October 2017 (sample size ~1,000) found:

"The most trusted media were ABC TV news and current affairs (63% a lot/some trust), SBS TV news and current affairs (61%) and ABC radio news and current affairs (58%)." 

The full table can be seen here

Monday, 18 June 2018

The State of Play, June 2018

Colleagues and scholars from coast to coast, across Bass Strait and all the ships at sea.

Dateline: Australia, Federal Politics, The State of Play June 2018.

This is how the polling numbers stand.

The key points are:

The Coalition has suffered a swing of 5.14% against its primary vote from the 2016 election to now stand at 36.9%.

The ALP has gained 1.77% on its primary vote from the 2016 election to now stand at 36.5%.

The Greens are effectively level with its primary vote from the 2016 election to stand at 10.3%.

One Nation has gained 6.7% on its primary vote to now stand at 8%

The Others Group has lost 3.4% of its primary vote from the 2016 election to now stand at 8.3%.

In Two Party Preferred terms, the Coalition has suffered a 2.9% swing against it since the 2016 election to now stand at 47.5%. In a uniform swing that would see the Coalition lose 12 seats from its notionally held 75 giving the ALP 83 seats and an election victory (this assumes 5 seats stay with non-major party candidates).

Primary Votes as at June 2018 %

2016 Election %
Current Polls %
One Nation

Two Party Preferred Votes as at June 2018 %

2016 Election %
Current Polls %

(click on image to see enlarged graph)

Friday, 15 June 2018

Donald Trump blatantly lies about Korean War dead

Fellow citizens,

This week Donald Trump displayed the key characteristic of chronic liars - they embellish their story with far too much detail.

This is not a new phenomenon for this man, it is his modus operandi. He regularly uses the same technique so often used by real estate agents and used car salespeople - bullshit, bullshit and bullshit some more.

In this instance, it also displays his historical and mathematical ignorance and the ignorance of the interviewer on FOX News who was unwilling or unable to pick him up on it.

How Surprisement!

What did the buffoon Trump say?

He was talking about the agreement with North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un to return the remains of American combatants from North Korea.

A worthy endeavour. One which the relatives and friends of the dead would greatly appreciate, not to mention the US nation at large.

To sell the agreement - as if it needed any, as it's self sold - he carries on with this bullshit:

“And we have thousands of people that have asked for that [the return of the remains], thousands and thousands of people. So many people asked when I was on the campaign, I’d say ‘Wait a minute, I don’t have any relationship…’, but they said, ‘When you can President, we’d love our son to be brought back home’. You know the remains."

Three lies:

1. Thousands and thousands of people came up to him and asked for the return of Korean War dead? Seriously? Thousands and thousands?

2. These people addressed him as "President" when he was on the campaign trail - he was a candidate, not the President.

3. This is the most damning by far - he stated these 'thousands and thousands of people' said, "We'd love our son to be brought back home."

He is claiming the PARENTS of Korean War veterans are asking for this.

Now let's do the maths:

The Korean War ended in 1953

The youngest service person would've been 18 years old in 1953

That means they would've been born in 1935 (1953 - 18)

The youngest age that the parents of the said soldier could've been at the birth of this soldier would've also been 18

This means the parents would've been born in 1917

That would make them at the very least 101 years of age right now...and a more likely scenario is that parents of Korean War combatants would be well over 110 years old.

So, yes, of course it makes perfect sense that thousands and thousands of centenarians clamoured to Trump's campaign rallies to ask him to reach an agreement with the North Korean Dictator. 

Why does this matter?

Because it goes to character.

Consider if Malcolm Turnbull had tried to pull that rubbish? How do you think it would've been received?

Of course, Trump's camp of sycophants and genuflectors (including in Australia) won't care a jot ...but that doesn't make it acceptable.

It needs to be called out and exposed at every turn.

Monday, 4 June 2018

The bums and the thugs are coming for the ABC...yet again

Fellow citizens,

Yet again, the usual suspects of bums and thugs are setting their sights on the ABC.


The whingeing and moaning and bitching and groaning about the ABC has become so regular that one could set one's watch by them.

However, what this group of sooks fails to understand is that the public has a great deal of fondness, affection and respect for the ABC...and its staff.

Research conducted recently (between 27 March and 7 April 2018) by online agency Research Now in a national survey of 1,557 people found:

- 70% of respondents agreed a “strong, independent ABC is critical to a healthy democracy”.

- 60% of respondents agreed the ABC needs a “boost to long term funding”, including a majority of voters for all parties.

- 58% of respondents disagreed “The ABC and SBS should get less funding and provide fewer online and streaming services, so that they don't undermine commercial media”

The full report can be found here

This is the most recent research in a long line of research that has reported how strongly the public supports and trusts the ABC.

This, of course, won't stop the bums and the thugs sooking or seeking revenge, but it does present the facts...inconvenient and uncomfortable as it is for the enemies of the ABC....and make no mistake, these people are the ABC's enemies.

Fear not Aunty, the Australian public has your back. 

And to all the staff at the ABC, always remember, when you are feeling judged for your integrity and professionalism:


Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Is it time for the polling bloggers to return to the fray?

Fellow citizens, boys and girls,

there was an Australian newspaper that believed it could publish any interpretation it liked of "its" fortnightly Newspoll and not be held to account.

That newspaper just happened to be called The Australian...curiously enough.

When the 2007 federal election campaign came along, The Australian did what it had always done and spun the Newspoll figures into the most flattering interpretation it could muster to support the Coalition.

Despite the Howard Government being trounced in every poll, The Australian did its best imitation of "Comical Ali" of the Iraq War fame to present the figures in the best light for the incumbent.

Unfortunately, for The Australian, two changes had occurred that it had not anticipated:

1 - the all-pervasive reach of the internet

2 -  bloggers with qualifications in statistics who were prepared to call bullshit on these distortions and used the internet to publish their findings.

The Australian was none too pleased.

My colleague, Greg Jericho, wrote about the history of this 'encounter' between The Australian and the bloggers called "The War the Bloggers Won"

Since the 2007 federal election media reporting of polls has improved. The need for bloggers to call out distorted interpretations has diminished and so their presence on the internet has lessened.

Nevertheless, regular high-quality analysis can still be found by William Bowe at and Dr. Kevin Bonham at

This week, The Australian was up to its old tricks again publishing a ridiculous interpretation of a leading question relating to public support for company tax cuts - which I called out here "The Australian newspaper is fiddling the figures on company tax cuts"

Mr. Bowe called it "one of the most poorly framed poll questions I've ever seen "

Dr. Bonham first tweeted "As others have noted the tax cuts question is woefully unsuited for the conclusions drawn from it because of its skewed preamble. Asking when a policy should be delivered is no way to gauge support for a policy."

and then went on to write on his blog:

More Poor Poll Reporting In The Oz 

"It's disappointing to report that the national broadsheet, home of the most predictively reliable voting intention poll, has besmirched itself by commissioning another dubiously worded issues poll and allowing repeat offender Simon Benson to go silly with the results.  The Australian's recent poll on company tax cuts itself has been panned for sins of omission in the preamble wording (eg see Adrian Beaumont's writeup).  However it is the use made of it by the newspaper that is the bigger problem here.  The poll question stated the tax cuts as a fait accompli, and then asked how they should be implemented.  This makes the "Not at all" option underestimate opposition, since some respondents might not have supported the tax cuts in the first place, but might believe the government should nonetheless go ahead with what it has said it will do, especially when asked when it should be done.  For the same reason, adding the "As soon as possible" and "In stages over the next 10 years" options together would not meaningfully show the rate of support for the plan even had the plan been accurately described.

Yet this didn't stop Benson from delighting the culture warriors with a claim that tax cuts were more popular than same-sex marriage (ignoring, alongside the preamble's defects, that an opt-in postal plebiscite is not a poll and that generic polls on same-sex marriage actually tended to show higher support than the actual outcome).  And this was the second time in two polls that Benson was talking nonsense.  Last fortnight, Newspoll found 46-43 opposition to a referendum on allowing dual citizens to become MPs but Benson reported this as "Most voters are also opposed", and also referred to "A majority of voters, 46 per cent".  Not only is 46% obviously not a "majority" or "most voters", but the three-point margin is within the poll's margin of error anyway."

Perhaps this was a misjudgement on the paper's behalf, perhaps it was an oversight, perhaps it was a deliberate attempt to distort...we can only speculate as to the explanation.

What isn't speculation, however, is if such distorted interpretations become commonplace, the bloggers will return in numbers to knock the cobblers out of the park.


Monday, 28 May 2018

The Australian newspaper is fiddling the figures on company tax cuts

Fellow citizens,

This is the opening paragraph in a story in The Australian newspaper today:

"EXCLUSIVE: Bill Shorten’s scare tactics have been blunted, with a vast majority of voters supporting company tax cuts."

The bolding is my emphasis, nevertheless, for authenticity, I've left the font as the one the newspaper had used (Times New Roman - so my computer tells me).

However, the question didn't gauge support for the tax cuts, it only asked about timing, as you can see below. To conclude from that question that "a vast majority of voters" support the company tax cuts is more than misleading, it is outright wrong.

Sadly, every news bulletin I heard this morning reported that 63% (36% + 27%) of people support the company tax cuts.

So the public has been duped by a mischievous newspaper and overworked (to be charitable) or lazy (to be less charitable) newsrooms.

We do have recent research which gauged public support for the company tax cuts. It was conducted by Ipsos and published in the Fairfax press on April 6, 2018. 

In my view, this is not a bad level of support for what, on the surface, might appear to be a very unpopular policy.

It illustrates how unnecessary The Australian's efforts were and only serves to further undermine the public's confidence in media reporting.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Tribute to Bill Hayden, advocate for gay, sorry, human rights

Fellow citizens,

Following yesterday's historic passing of the Same-Sex Marriage legislation, I thought it important to recognise the efforts of Bill Hayden in arriving at this long overdue reform.

From Mark Kenny's article in the SMH, September 30, 2017 "Bill Hayden, the most visionary PM we never had, says Paul Keating."

"Most younger Australians campaigning for marriage equality in 2017 would not know Hayden from Adam. Incredulous at the glacial pace of change, even fewer would know that way back in 1967, it was Hayden, now 84 and infirm, who was pushing forward, largely by himself within federal Labor, to repeal dehumanising laws which rendered homosexual love illegal."

"Even now in 2017, it is not uncommon for embarrassed Labor MPs to explain their denial in parliamentary votes as a "journey" – the unspoken point being it might have harmed their career prospects. But consider this. The former social security minister, treasurer, opposition leader, foreign minister, and ultimately governor-general, achieved all of that after he spoke out, long before he was leader, long before there was a majority within Labor, long before it was fashionable to do so."


Blog Archive

Our home

Our home
Earthrise over the moon (click on picture to view film)

The pale blue dot

The pale blue dot
Earth viewed from Saturn (click on picture to view film clip)

Our neighbourhood

Our neighbourhood
The Solar System (click on picture to view film)

Our Home Galaxy

Our Home Galaxy
The Milky Way (click on picture to view film)

A sister galaxy

A sister galaxy
Andromeda (click on picture to view film)

Another sister galaxy

Another sister galaxy
Triangulum (click on picture to view short film clip)

The Local Group of Galaxies

The Local Group of Galaxies
Our Galactic Neighbourhood (click on picture to view film clip).

Our farthest view of the Universe

Our farthest view of the Universe
Hubble's farthest view (click on picture to view film clip)

The virgo super cluster of galaxies

The virgo super cluster of galaxies
Galaxies within 100 million light years (click on picture to view film clip)

Galaxies within 1 billion light years

Galaxies within 1 billion light years