As two mores scientific papers show anomalies on the RR, the WSJ picks up the subject

July 1, 2009

This month, the journal Statistical Science accepted two more papers that provide scientific evidence that all was not well with the 2004 Recall Referendum that took place in Venezuela. This provides further evidence of widespread manipulation of the votes in the referendum and constitutes the third and fourth scientific papers accepted for publication. Curiously, none of the papers purporting to show that the vote was clean or that these papers constituted no proof has ever been accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal.

I have already talked about the paper by Delfino and Salas, which was earlier accepted for publication and there is a second paper by Maria Febres Cordero and Bernardo Marquez, also published in the same journal.

The first paper accepted is one I have discussed already by Raquel Prado and Bruno Sanso, which deals with the mathematical discrepancies between exit polls and the results reported by the Electoral Board. What is perhaps most intriguing about this study is that there are two polls showing the same anomalies.

The second paper accepted for publication is by Pericchi and Torres and I have also reported on this, but the accepted paper goes further than the report I presented. They apply Benford’s Law for both the first and second digit to the 2004 USA Presidential elections, three (1996,200 and 2004) Puerto Rican elections the 2000 Venezuelan Presidential election and the 2004  recall vote. They fond that the second digit law is compellingly rejected ONLY in the case of the Venezuelan recall vote and ONLY for the votes from the electronic voting machines. In fact, their results show an excellent fit to, for example, the 2004 USA Presidential elections, as well as the manual votes in the Venezuelan recall vote.

All of these topics have become quite relevant today due to the controversial results of the Iranian elections. In fact, today the Wall Street Journal publishes an article on the subject quoting Prof. Mebane who used similar techniques to show that the second digit Benford Law suggests that there was ballot stuffing in Iran. The article even quotes early detractors of the use of these techniques changing sides given the evidence of all these studies. The Carter Center criticized the use of Benford’s Law as it “could” under certain conditions suggest fraud in fair elections.

These new results invalidate the conclusions of the Carter Center, but by now they have moved on to talk about democracy (don’t laugh) in Honduras and none of their “work” on the elections has ever been accepted for publication.This seems to be a new form of judgemental imperialism by foreign politicians that have no clue about what they are talking about, but keep interfering with the affairs of our countries.

Note added: And the WSJ seems to have picked up on Benford

14 Responses to “As two mores scientific papers show anomalies on the RR, the WSJ picks up the subject”

  1. marc in calgary Says:

    shouldn’t there be a red flag that is applied to each and every article mentioning Jimmy Carter?

  2. dillis Says:

    On the subject of articles, check out this excellent article published in Newsweek today about all the professionals leaving Venezuela :

    http://www.newsweek.com/id/204835

  3. Kepler Says:

    Dillis,

    The article is interesting and it has a lot of true points. I am one of those professionals and I know a lot of friends in the same condition, but there is one thing I complete disagree with and that is my mantra: education.
    Venezuela was not top-notch in Latin America, it has always been in real terms bottom. Literacy figures and official numbers of people at university are not the real story.

    We do have the USB, the UCV and a couple of others but that is not the average and this is something few there seem to grasp (well, what can we do?). Even within those universities we had that too few were really engaged or bothered to look beyond their little world.
    I have mentioned repeatedly: there was progress for some but way too slow and it was not keeping up with the incredible population explosion Venezuela went through in the last decades.
    In 1998, just before Chavez came to power, Venezuela’s AVERAGE pupils had taken part in international evaluation tests. They came up 13 of 13 for math in Latin America, well below second worst Bolivia (hello, 1 + 1 is wha’? a lot?) and 41 out of 41 in a reading and comprehension test.

    I was doing a little test asking a series of very basic questions about history to intelligent university students and professionals in Venezuela, things that are more about relating, not about learning by rote. They had no clue. By and large our professionals, who are a tiny minority are mostly ignorant experts (they just don’t read anything but about their little little subject and perhaps one hobby) and the rest simply very ignorant in almost everything.

    Are there people trying to change things? Yes, but way too few and most without the courage. That is why we are so fucked up.
    Con mi mundito no te metas – is everything most university people seem to say.

    Venezuela was one of the most forgotten regions of an empire where books and printing and education institutions were outrageously controlled by the central government. Venezuela was a post-colonial coffee land where caudillos had no vision at all. Venezuela became a land where the cargo cult became widespread and where those who made it mostly forgot the rest.

    I am trying to look for money for an education project in Venezuela that is much much less expensive than the Globo fee but it is way way more difficult to find the money. La gente se la loca en Venezuela. It seems the project is only interesting for Europeans.
    I am sure Venezuelans drink in one day enough whiskey to pay for that project…but apparently they have more important things to do.

  4. moctavio Says:

    My best Ph.D. student who had published quite a few papers on his own, Ricardo Paredes, was recently denied tenure at IVIC despite the very positive recommendantion of the academic committee that decides such matters. The problem? He was (is) anti-Chavez.

  5. Kepler Says:

    No surprise about IVIC. It is a very red, red joke now, IVIC.

  6. HalfEmpty Says:

    Benford’s Law white man’s law does not apply to areas populated by workers and or (and not excluding) indigneous folks of the local persuasion. Now, you go breaking Potlatch…. then you got a revolution. But forget this Benford’s Law stuff cause Benford ain’t counting them damn votes.

  7. maria mercedes febres cordero Says:

    Miguel, algunas aclaratorias a tu referencia sobre el articulo Febres Marquez:

    - Fue publicado en agosto 2006, 74,3,379-389
    - La revista es el International Statistical Review, no la Statistical Science donde seran publicados los trabajos que mencionas.

    Gracias, Maria Mercedes Febres Cordero

  8. FC Says:

    Kepler makes a good point, though I wonder how many professionals today in the world are well learned, how many are similar to venezuelan experts that don’t leave their own little world? I wouldn’t hesitate to say a lot.

    The Venezuelan problem is probably much larger than the rest of the world in regards to the professionals, but I’m sure each country has their fair share of “ignorant experts”.

  9. Kepler Says:

    FC,
    Definitely they are everywhere (Fachidioten in German). Still, I think the proportion tends to be higher in some countries like Venezuela and some others. There are two very bad things: they are more numerous and the big majority of Venezuelans are not even that, they are completely unskilled people with no framework, un pasticho historico, as another blogger said, un pasticho cultural, I would say.

    A couple of friends of mine teaching at the USB say the same: we in general in Venezuela have failed big time with providing for a better education for the majority. Somehow people focused big time on universities, but even so much that now universities are getting worse and worse freshmen.
    Education in public schools in our country has worsened enormously in the last decades. Not everyone needs to go to university, but most need to have some solid education for something else. They don’t in Venezuela. Even those at the university have to catch up more than elsewhere because our schools are so bad.
    I wonder how many of the Venezuelan readers of these blogs studied in Venezuelan public schools after 1975…and how many of them have relatives or friends with children in those schools now.

    If you can, check out the article by Andreas Schleicher (OECD) I put in this page:
    http://sites.google.com/site/venezueladesarrollada/government-feedback
    Schleicher had to be cautious not to talk too concretely about our country but the truth is that the average Pedro Pérez in Baruta and particularly in Barinas, San Juan de los Morros, Tucupita is by far less skilled than the average Colombian, Brazilian and Argentinian. And those Latin American are much less skilled than many Asians, almost all of Europe, Canada and the US.

  10. Barqui Says:

    I went to a “colegio” and my education was above the average US high school student. But the nuns and priests at SVP were very tough !!! Even if no brain drain in the way the term is used is happening; There is a larger talent, motivation and capital drain. Remembers boys university brains are not the only ones that count.

  11. Kepler Says:

    Barqui,
    The US has by far most of the best universities on Earth, but variance at schools is huge. US universities can select from the many US pupils and the many more from the whole world.
    I think Europe and Venezuela can learn a lot from the USA about how to manage universities.

    Still, I think Venezuela should look more at what it can learn from Europe to improve its schools.
    OECD tests for pupils show most EU countries ahead of the US and the vast majority of schools are public, free. Most Prime ministers and entrepreneurs send their children to normal free schools. There is also variance across Europe: Spain has rather crappy schools, in Belgium the Flemish (Germanic) are far better than the French speaking. Japan, Hong Kong (not the rest of China) and South Korea do also very well.
    The Scandinavian countries are top.

    Some of the characteristics for Scandinavian countries:
    Rote learning is frowned upon, analytical thinking is rewarded. Reading is a very widespread hobby. Teachers are selected from the best.


  12. [...] former US President stop meddling with Venezuelan affairs and perhaps find sometime to read these papers or read this whole section of my blog, which shows that what he is saying is just a bunch of crap [...]


  13. […] So I got curious and investigated a bit further about it, sadly to find out that the firm that has rigged elections for Chavez since 2004 in Venezuela, the firm whose acquisition of Sequoia Voting Systems in the USA was challenged on the basis of an […]


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