All for statistics

All for statistics

Recently, a leading anchorwoman of a leading TV channel became the news herself. Well, though elders of the profession frequently underline that newspeople should avoid becoming news themselves, sometimes it just becomes unavoidable.

Our lady colleague did not know she was chosen as a “sample” by the Turkish statistical authority (TUİK). She was not given her consent to be involved in such an ordeal even though she was assured her privacy would not be exposed. Still she just found it nonsense to explain to visiting TUİK pollsters what kind of hygienic tissue she was using or her weekly consumption from the pharmacy and refused to answer questions.

Well, this is an advanced democracy and unlike those simple democracies of the West, if the absolute ruler or any agency carrying out a project under the directives of the absolute ruler asks something to be done, that’s the way it is, no room for questioning… Such orders should be treated as “divine” and to be adhered to without any objection. TUİK has launched judicial process against our colleague; she will probably face a fine.

It was in the news again this week: The statistical authority was conducting a survey of consumer prices and trends. Can a survey on inflation expectation of the Turkish society be conducted with “Are you an Alevi?” or “How religious are your family?” and such questions? In Turkey, and if the current TUİK mentality is conducting that survey, apparently such questions, and even far worse ones, are being routinely used in inflation surveys.

Is there any connection between “angels entering a house” and “consumer prices?” If not, how can pollsters dare to ask people, “Do you believe angels can enter a house where there is a dog?” or demand an answer to a question whether a pious family can have pets?

Naturally, TUİK might decide to take a survey of the religiosity of the people. Announce its intention and conduct such a survey if it dares. In societies like Turkey, where there is not only one religion but many religions, shades and colors of the predominant religion, scratching such issues might bleed very old wounds. Sectarian tensions, disputes might pose existential threats to multi-cultural, multi-religious societies. Look at what’s happening today in Syria, remember what happened yesterday in the former Yugoslavian territories or in Rwanda?

Is there any connection with consumer prices, whether (according to Islamic traditions) people interviewed believed men should inherit twice of that which women received? Can anyone indeed ask anyone whether s/he considered how pious a candidate is before casting their vote for that candidate? In that survey, pollsters visited 37,624 houses, according to main opposition deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu. In all those visited houses, the same questionnaires, with the same odd questions were asked. That is the problem was not an individual undertaking of a pollster, but part of a systematic, pre-planned sinister scenario. To which religion or sect someone belonged to, or how frequently someone performs prayers should be none of the business of the state. Similarly, why is the state so bothered with how much alcohol a citizen might be consuming or what kind of hygienic material a lady is using?

Then the sultan appears on all TV screens with his wide opened eyes, yelling and cursing at everyone, ordering governors to take action against boys and girls staying in same houses or hostels… However, no one talks on OECD’s “Health at a Glance 2013” about appalling health statistics of Turkey…