Sunday, May 13, 2012

Blue think tank poll on Taiwanese Youth & Military says opposite of Pollster's spin

UPDATE: The TT has revised the kicker. The headline is still wrong, but at least a corrective gale blew through the office. I've substantially revised the post.


Youth will not fight for Taiwan: poll
A survey released yesterday showed that 45.8 percent of young people born after 1984 agreed that Taiwan is an independent nation separate from China, while almost 60 percent of the respondents said that people have the right to refuse military conscription in the event of war against China.

The 21st Century Foundation, a local think tank, released the survey to explore the “sense of efficacy” of the generation toward cross-strait peace, attempting to find what they think are the ways to achieve peace and whether it is possible to reconcile cross-strait peace with preservation national sovereignty.
The survey said.....
"The survey found that 57 percent of the respondents agreed that people have the right to refuse to be conscripted into the military if a war breaks out because of Taiwan’s declaration of independence, while 43 percent disagreed.

An analysis of these two questions showed that 31.6 percent of the respondents do not want to be mobilized for military duty and would rather surrender in case of military conflict between Taiwan and China, Chang said."
Read it yourself -- nearly 60% said that others should not be forced to fight, and only 31% said that they do not want to be mobilized for duty. The number of people who said that they would go if mobilized is almost 70%, exactly opposite of what the headline says .

The TT then goes on to accept the spin that the lead researcher puts on the article without any corrective save provision of the numbers...
The survey reflected the “pragmatic attitudes” of young people in Taiwan toward cross-strait issues, he added.

“They do not want to sacrifice their lives for sovereignty,” Chang said of the findings.
The numbers are right there: not only do nearly 70% appear to be willing to be mobilized for duty but according to the survey, 51.7% agreed that Chinese invaders have to be resisted even if the government itself throws in the towel!
Asked whether they think people in Taiwan have to fight against China until the end, even if the government has stopped resisting when China forces Taiwan into unification, 48.3 percent of the respondents disagreed, and 51.7 percent agreed.
Apparently just over half the "strawberries" are bloody-minded bastards who will fight to the bitter end!

The other thing about this amazing presentation that bothered me was the reference to the 21st Century Foundation as "a local think tank." A two second search on Google turned up this collection of slides. Here are the top three people:



You only have to look at the positions and institutional commitments of these three individuals to know that this "thinktank" is a pro-Blue foundation. This probably should have been made clear by the Taipei Times. If you keep reading the slides, the thinktank's agricultural programs appear to be part of a program to transfer Taiwan's ag tech to China.

Finally, how about this research project:
Chang called the research a “pioneering study” because it combined qualitative and quantitative methods of conducting focus group interviews with senior high school and college students. A total of 719 copies of questionnaires were completed either online or through face-to-face interviews, and the respondents had connections to the research team rather than being randomly selected.
The paper's presentation is confusing. The use of "face-to-face" implies one on one interviews but focus groups were used, in which students were interviewed in groups (reflect for a moment on how Taiwanese talk about politics in groups). The idea that combining qualitative and quantitative work is somehow pioneering is laughable; there are a gazillion such studies (I am part of a team that has published one such study myself). I am sure the author knows that, and believe the author wanted to emphasize the pioneering nature of the study stems from its sample size and population, not combo of qual/quan triangulation. If you read the paragraph on how the students define China and Taiwan, it appears that a Blue-skewed population was selected.

However, if you read the paper's description, it says that participants were non-randomly selected. Yes, that's right, the sample population consists of non-random internet users and students familiar to the research team. Representativeness is thus a serious issue. Since the pro-China political commitments of the Foundation are painfully obvious, what we are really looking at is a study from a pro-KMT source that nevertheless says that Taiwanese students are majority bitter enders.

Now that's news the paper should have promoted.
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20 comments:

Lorenzo said...

I here call the editor of Taipei Times to explain the tasteless kicker. Well, I couldn't find out his/her name in their website. The same that I couldn't locate the editor's name in Apple Daily website. Shame on those editor assuming the style of anonymous 'webmaster@acme'.

Don't they realize that the right of posting by an anonymous or pseudo name is reserved to the blog-commentator like me?

Steven Chen said...

If I remember correctly, the current Editor for the Taipei Times should be Michael Cole, who is a very reasonable guy (and not, in my mind, particularly pan-Blue). I think if he took a closer look into this he would agree that the article was indeed misleading, or at least would be willing to explain the rationale behind posting the news article as is.

J. Michael Cole 寇謐將 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Turton said...

Steve, Michael Cole is deputy news chief at the TT, not "the editor."

Michael>

Jenna Cody said...

Also sad is that the two men have professional - if dorky and poorly-shot - portraits while the woman has some ridiculous leggy, big-headed cartoon.

Anonymous said...

A bit hard to take this so-called think tank seriously when a) the PPT file you link us to has worse English than a marginal high school student's; b) one of the key members is smirking in his photo and lists his main affiliation as being in charge of a vegetable center, and 3) another key member professionally portrays herself in a pic as Betty Boop.

Anonymous said...

I love the reading the way you just rip and tear apart the sampling and survey bias of these pro-Blue articles! Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Are these the same "strawberries" that held the sit-in protest a couple of years ago? If so, it would be advisable to take their responses with a large grain of salt. During their protest against the assembly law, while one hand was busy telling the media they were non-partisan, the other hand was courting the pan-green leaders.

Michael Turton said...

You must be confused. The strawberries from the sit-ins were not courting pan-Green leaders.

Anonymous said...

"The strawberries from the sit-ins were not courting pan-Green leaders"

Yes, they were. I was down there a few times and there was always representatives from the pan-green parties on hand. For example http://www.flickr.com/photos/11933686@N04/3089221669/

Ben Goren said...

As someone who participated and researched the Wild Strawberry movement I've got to agree with MT that the WS were absolutely not courting the pan-greens. In fact they were constantly dealing with the narrative fallout as a result of either the pan-greens trying to appropriate their protest or the pan blue media claiming that WS and pan-green were working together.

Michael Turton said...

Yes, they were. I was down there a few times and there was always representatives from the pan-green parties on hand. For example http://www.flickr.com/photos/11933686@N04/3089221669/

As Ben already said, the pan-Greens were happy to get what they could from the Strawberries. But they themselves struggled to remain non-partisan despite the efforts of both the Blues to disrupt them and the Greens to co-opt them.

Anonymous said...

God, people... might it be that the article uses "wild strawberries" in reference to the wild strawberries movement adopting that name because it refers to how whimpy the younger generation is supposed to be?

Anonymous said...

I think Taiwanese youth today have as much enthusiasim to fight to secure de jure independence as their parents had to fight to recover the mainland. Nobody wants to die in futility.

The foundation of TI belief is the unwavering faith that a declaration of indepence will be backed by Japanese and US intervention on behalf of TI. TI leaning people tend to give great credibility to the belligerent words of Japanese and US militarists. I think their expectation is that TI forces themselves will only need to fight the ROC loyalists in Taiwan while any intervention by PRC forces will be dealt with by the US and Japan. Therefore, the question of whether Taiwan youth want to fight to secure de jure independence is not really a matter of much concern.

Michael Turton said...

God, people... might it be that the article uses "wild strawberries" in reference to the wild strawberries movement adopting that name because it refers to how whimpy the younger generation is supposed to be?

Of course, but as noted, it shows the ineptitude of the writer. The Wild Strawberries were the opposite of wimpy and intended to be. Had the writer put "strawberries" or "strawberry generation" it would have been ok. Stupid still, but at least correct with respect to his intentions, though not with respect to what the poll said. The reference is stupid and wrong, which is why it has been removed from the online edition by another editor.

Michael

Anonymous said...

Again, I'd say it's looks like the author is NOT referring to the wild strawberries _movement_, the term has been around before. No?

Michael Turton said...

"Again, I'd say it's looks like the author is NOT referring to the wild strawberries _movement_, the term has been around before. No?"

No, the term has not been around, and the author may not even be "referring" so much as free associating. The TT has removed the reference from the web edition for the same reasons that I dislike it.

Michael

Steven Chen said...

Thanks for the clarification Michael, I was slightly confused about that.

Using "Wild Strawberries" in the way the author did was indeed odd since one of the reasons *why* the name strawberries was used for the movement was the dispel notions that this generation is soft. Of course, it wasn't enough to totally turn the term "strawberry generation" around, but the name was pretty intentionally tongue-in-cheek.

Anonymous said...

Let's see...
Fact 1: The Author is TAIWANESE. Fact 2: The term Wild Strawberries has been around before the movement, IN CHINESE.
Fact 3: The article is from the Taipei Times.

Having this information it should be very clear that the author was NOT referencing the movement. I'm honestly shocked at the lack of contextual reading comprehension at display here.

Michael Turton said...

I'm honestly shocked at the lack of contextual reading comprehension at display here.

Fact 1: the writer of kicker is NOT Taiwanese. Fact 2: the writer of that kicker was deeply confused. Fact 3: so are you.

I too am honestly shocked at the lack of contextual reading comprehension on display here. Specifically, in your comment.

Michael