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Yahoo! misleads on statistics about “homosexuality acceptance” to influence public opinion

In article “Singaporeans split over gay, censorship, social support issues: OSC survey“, Yahoo! Singapore reported the following (statistics in red):

The views of Singaporeans on social issues have become more diverse – diverging mainly between the old vs young and the higher vs lower income groups.

This was among the main findings in the latest Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) survey report, which involved interviews with 4,000 Singaporeans.

Younger Singaporeans, for example, showed a stronger preference for less censorship, while older Singaporeans were reflected as placing more value in censorship to protect public interest.

While acknowledging that there remains a “significant consensus” among Singaporeans, Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) added they also found “a diversity of orientations towards several key policy areas.”

This, he said, reveals a “sense of the dilemmas that we face as a society going forward.”

Other social issues like gay lifestyles also saw split views.

While the statistics reflect that society in general did not accept gay lifestyles, the acceptance level varied significantly. The younger and more educated tended to be more accepting while the older and the less educated were far less open to the idea.

A whopping 62 per cent of Singaporeans with no formal education rejected the idea of gay lifestyles, while only 26 per cent and 29 per cent of polytechnic and university graduates could not accept gay lifestyles.

A check on official OSC documents sheds light on how Yahoo!’s figures clearly misleads. Here is the official graph screenshot direct from the OSC documents:

OSC statistics on Gay LifestylesAs you can see, when Yahoo! says “62 per cent of Singaporeans with no formal education rejected the idea of gay lifestyles, while only 26 per cent and 29 per cent of polytechnic and university graduates could not accept gay lifestyles”, they quoted only figures from the orange end of the spectrum. This is a gross misrepresentation when there are actually 5 possible responses – represented by 5 different colours – orange; pink; white; light blue; dark blue.

An earlier graph on the OSC document implies what these colours would represent:

OSC LegendYahoo! has committed error by ignoring the pink (or light orange) responses when they quoted figures of people who rejects gay lifestyles. The pink responses would have represented “disagree” with gay lifestyles or the equivalent of it. The factual statistics Yahoo! should have quoted are:

1. 72 per cent of Singaporeans with no formal education rejected the idea of gay lifestyles while

2. 37 per cent and 40 per cent of polytechnic and university graduates could not accept gay lifestyles.

Quite honestly, if they do wish to educate the public truthfully, they would not have stopped at reporting just one end of the spectrum. They should do a comparison with the other end. This could possibly be an example of what they could have continued to write as a comparison:

3. On the contrary, only 10 per cent of Singaporeans with no formal education accepted the idea of gay lifestyles while

4. 31 per cent and 29 per cent of polytechnic and university graduates could accept gay lifestyles.

The OSC remark, actually did put things across pretty straightforwardly:

“The survey also found that society in general did not accept gay lifestyles.”

This conclusion should have been quite obvious to anyone who saw the graphs and read the OSC documents. Surely Yahoo!, an international media giant, could not have interpreted the graphs like an inexperienced kid who have yet to attend school! But, even if we were to give them the maximum benefit of doubt, they would not have missed this graph (which clearly tells readers that Singaporeans are not split over this issue – unlike what their headlines claimed!):

OSC statistics on Gay Marriage

Verdict:

The judge’s verdict would be quite clear here – Yahoo! has deliberately attempted to mislead the public by misrepresenting carefully selected figures.

Media Manipulation?: Guilty!

Yahoo!‘s attempt to mislead public by misquoting figures raises questions that society ought to pursue: Why are they doing this? Especially when Yahoo! Singapore is an alternative news site which seemed to have built up an image that they are the voice for the average Singaporean. They have been very vocal about societal issues, publishing articles that ranges from politics to culture to economics. Could this all be part of the makings of believable propaganda which actually hides a biased agenda?

Yahoo!’s bias-ness: Proven.

Integrity lies in the heart of every good journalist and genuine newscaster. Yahoo! have steered away from just and truthful reporting that is the hallmark of every great media network; choosing instead to manipulate public opinion with lies and seemingly noble, informed headlines like “Singaporeans split over gay, censorship, social support issues: OSC survey”.

Integrity: I doubt they have it if they would stoop this low to propel their agenda. While I won’t really fault them for having an opinion, one must not deny the truth, even if it is not to your liking, especially when you are a newscaster. Dishonesty discredits your cause.

Moral authority: None.

Integrity is at the heart of all moral authority. Yahoo! Singapore have shown that they cannot be trusted in their reporting. Moreover, it has been observed that Yahoo! comment administrators quite probably, controls the comments approved for publish for each article with bias. In this way, they portray another false, manipulated front to their reader. A typical reader who is unaware of Yahoo!’s frequent intervention of public comments, may look at the comments thinking that they represent the general public. This quite frankly, shapes and manipulates public opinion.

Propaganda?: Guilty.

I would hope now that Yahoo! Singapore stop acting like they are a trustworthy partner and the answer to Singapore’s political and social-cultural scene. Thank you, but we don’t need a society manipulated and build on falsehood and lies.

Additional Food for Thought:

Crime, when unnoticed, unpunished, induces more crime. Brazenness is an attitude that correlates to the frequency of brazen happenings. Yahoo!‘s actions likely signify a larger trend that non-accountable independent newscasters i.e. bloggers, commenters, are more so than ever, relying on falsehoods and lies to spread dangerous ideologies and push hidden agendas. This might also signify the trend that general public is undiscerning or apathetic to such happenings, and becoming easy prey to such – allowing such unethical business to flourish.

Singaporeans, it’s time to wise up! The next generation of youths would require older ones like you and me to teach them how to discern and think!

Check out the following as well:

Commenter applies same tactic as Yahoo! to mislead. Today seems to not be overly concerned about filtering falsehood: http://www.todayonline.com/voices/osc-survey-result-raises-questions-over-s377a

The Real Singapore? Really? Anything misleading finds it’s way here. http://therealsingapore.com/content/osc-survey-sporeans-split-many-issues-such-homosexuality-censorship-social-spending

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