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Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part four – ‘Right wing feral opinion’

 Monday 26 September 2016

Somewhere along the way Australia again followed America’s lead with the arrival of ‘opinion’.  As staff were sacked, decreasing the ability of newspaper journalists to investigate and research they began the concept of ‘opinion writing’. Radio had been doing it for 30 years or so but the right of radio decided to go a step further, and so was born the feral shock jocks of today.

Alan Jones, John Laws, Chris Smith, Ray Hadley, Stan Zemanek and not to forget the feral champion Andrew Bolt himself who has gained a foothold in all genres of media. (Although his audience is in decline).

Shock jocks are usually described as broadcasters who create a large audience with untruth, exaggeration, offensiveness. They are deliberately outrageous and place ratings above common decency. Hence the term ‘feral’. They are the equivalent of the Murdoch tabloid newspaper.

They are paid enormous amounts of money to be rude indecent and provocative. And do so with gusto attracting large audiences of the older demographic.

Right wing shock jocks tend to push the envelope, disregarding broadcasting authorities and even the rights of the individual.

Those who complain about media bias might note that the left of politics does not have a shock jock they can lay claim too. It’s not just the radio shock jocks who cast their opinions in feral fashion. It has insinuated itself into all facets of media communication.

Why is the Right So Feral?

A year or so back some Facebook friends took it upon themselves to add my name to three pages. The first, Australian Government Your Say is administered by a Ross Parisi who I have since been told is a failed Liberal right-wing politician. I cannot verify that, nor do I want to. Another page is called The Middle Ground and thirdly, one called Australian Political Debate. All pages purport to give their members the opportunity to debate political issues. Right Vs Left. Sounds even-handed.

I think the friends who pitched my name thought I would be someone who could present a leftish view with a sagacious intelligence spliced with some worldly wisdom, even humor. Perhaps they thought it was what these sites needed.

On that point they were correct. On the other hand they could have chosen Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke and many other social democrats and their combined intellects would have been totality ineffective.

Never in my life have I come across a human rabble so feral. So nefarious, so malevolent, so xenophobic, so bigoted, so homophobic so ubiquitous, discourteous and disgustingly bad mannered.

I am not a naïve person. Far from it. However, nothing could have prepared me for the onslaught of vicious, vile, ill-informed, fact-less views that were thrown at me by people spewing verbal vomit with an intensity and regularity that left me somewhat ashamed of my fellow humans. So bad was their gutter filth and their intelligence so poor that they became more rabid even when I agreed with them.

Often I asked myself if they might all suffer from some collective mental disorder. Like intelligence deficiency syndrome.

For example, I made some comments suggesting I disagreed with the Asylum policies of both parties. They formed like a group of hyenas attacking me on all fronts. The end result being that “I supported people dying at sea.” No attempt at balanced discourse or reason had any effect. They employ tactics that very quickly take you off subject so that they can employ sarcasm, verbal intimidation and emotional blackmail. I complained to Ross Parisi three times but he showed little interest. More or less telling me to mix it with them.

A friend asked me after a week of it why I bothered. Initially I thought, oh well someone needs to stand up to them. Then rather pragmatically I decided I was interested in the psychology of it so for the second week I studied their behaviour. Then I suggested to those of the left that frequented the site that they should follow me and leave. Then the right could argue among themselves. I thought the ferals would rather enjoy that.

Now I am left to analyse just why the right are as feral as they are. It is not only on Facebook pages that we find them. More alarmingly and with more influence they inhabit all forms of media. It is there that they have become progressively more outlandish, more tantalising, more seductive, more flirtatious, more provocative, more stunning and more enticing.

But what is it that occupies the minds of men and women that they need be so malevolent in their thinking? That the power of persuasion with reasoned thinking and debate no longer suffices?

What is it in the backgrounds of people that causes their narcissism, their inability to accommodate difference or equality?

Is it the sins of the fathers?

In the media, is it loyalty to the despot? Or an acceptance of serfdom? Why is it that megalomaniac Alan Jones with his vile gutter speech attracts a huge listening audience? And a perverter of the truth like Andrew Bolt command mega readership.

Why is there this preponderance of right-wing attitude? This alignment to neo conservatism. Why have we allowed ourselves to be saturated by extremism?

Perhaps the answer can be found in materialism. Or in an entitlement society. Maybe it’s those elements of Christianity who believe in a gospel of wealth. Do people believe it’s their individual right to take an ownership of prosperity and cultural worth?

Does it belong to them and them only? In my lifetime the left have moved to the right and the right have gone further so. Perhaps social media has given it a voice too loud.

Maybe it’s the preponderance of right-wing propaganda in our media. Whatever it is, why are they so feral about it? Well I’ll have a stab.

With the media I believe it is the threat of annihilation and in turn profit. Social media and the advent of bloggers is now threatening their power and influence.

In order to maintain the viewer’s interest they need to progressively become more outlandish, and this is exactly what mainstream media is doing. And in the process has chosen to prostitute itself in the forlorn hope of remaining relevant. So they resort to lies and biased opinion with pursed lips.

Also empowered by social media the feral right have also been given a new voice. At the zenith of her popularity Pauline Hansen received 20% of the vote. Twenty years later she is back with 500,000 supporters and backed by the feral news media.

Two explanations occurred to me for the unbalanced hatred right-wing politicians and their supporters extol. Firstly, in the case of feral followers it’s the inheritance factor. Hatred is simply passed on from one generation to another.

It is born of ignorance and misunderstandings. There are in my view three psychological types. Those who know. Those who know when they are shown and those who have no interest in knowing because of their inheritance of hate. They are the feral philistines.

In the case of the politicians they have inherited the worst traits of American Republicanism and the Tea Party. People like Abbott, Bernardi and Christensen say the most outrageous things in the knowledge that they will be given immunity from the feral media. They are the repugnant ferals.


“Perhaps a greater understanding of what I am saying might be obtained by exercising a greater willingness to think more deeply”.



  1. Kaye Lee

    I find it amusing that, for me at least, there are three ads attached to this article asking us to subscribe to the The Australian for 50% off

  2. Trish Corry

    My favourite one of the series so far. I too was in two of the FB Groups you spoke about, but Libertarians vs. Leftists has left me the most scarred. In that group, I was referred to a lot as “Trash” instead of “Trish” and screamed at that I supported the stealing their money (taxes) because taking a workers tax is a crime and I should be in jail. That type of nuttery.

    The right wing do have their shock jocks and social media; but those who align themselves with the left are not immune to feralism. Social media is a playground for many who wake up every morning and get very excited about playing the “Leftist Olympics.” If I must label myself now, I will label myself a Laborist, rather than a ‘leftist.’ There seems to be a few people who take it upon themselves to define with leftism is and decide upon whether you belong or not. If you are not within their ‘definition of ‘leftism’ you are a ‘neo-liberalist.
    That means if you admire Hawke or Keating you are placed in the same basket as Howard, Abbott and Mr. Do Nothing and if you like Shorten – you are probably in their minds the same as George Christensen. I can describe this as one word – bizarre.

    Left feralism is just as bad; but it happens more in a secret fight club within the realm of social media, than out in the open supported by the media and shock jocks. Maybe the TV stations are missing out on “Leftist shock jock breakfast shows.’ It could be lucrative.

    At the moment we see the media toying with the “Was Mediscare really a lie?” I honestly am so angry. The media treat politics as if it is a game and they have no conscience about choosing to support a Government who will actually ruin people’s lives.

    Over the years I have withdrawn more and more and more away from social media commentary. The ‘me’ that thinks ‘well I should stand up to them’ is dying. I often question if anyone actually cares. In my opinion, most seek affirmation, not facts or learning or even discussion. There must be a better way.

    Thank you for your article, it really spoke to me.

  3. Winston

    So many issues here John.
    People who had a reasonable education like Jones adopt the common language when they want to achieve an outcome that’s why John Howard was so successful.

    They mix it with street fighters like Ray Hadley as this serves their purpose.

    Though if you put Bolt, Jones and Hadley in cell together they would be in a living hell as they are personally so different.

    Under educated people or lazy thinkers or the busy working class are not all stupid though they are easy to work out.

    And if I may so bold John, If you want to communicate your ideas on the “Right Wing Ferals”.Don’t use so many big words to make your

    case as you have done in this article. So there inlays the issue if you to really want to get your message across..

    That’s why many over educated people of the left just don’t get it. Especially if you really want to get your message across to all people in

    society. Or are you just talking to your same thinking “incrowd”?

  4. lawrencewinder

    I suspect that many of these feral nutters have never emotionally or intellectually grown beyond the state of being a four year old libertarian and have learnt that in divisiveness they win.
    Just take That Flappy-Headed, Drop-Kick of an Education(?) Minister, Birmingham. He knows he lying. He knows that he is destroying public education but he will not give an inch and actually enjoys the turmoil as he also knows that MSM will not criticize him and so feels the frisson of power and he’s masturbating in it!

  5. Graeme Henchel

    I think there are two distinct components of the feral right. The paid propagandists/shock jocks are very wealthy people and their right wing schtick is a necessary tool of trade, even if they believe otherwise they can not afford to be nuanced. These propagandists can be articulate and cunning in a shithouse rat sort of way. The other group is of course their audience of simpletons who soak up and wallow in the crap the propagandists put about.

  6. metadatalata

    Great article John. In your post, you wrote:
    “Often I asked myself if they might all suffer from some collective mental disorder. Like intelligence deficiency syndrome.”
    I have often wondered the same thing but in my opinion, it comes down to education. I was fortunate to have teachers in school that taught us to question the news sources, their reasoning, and the difference between journalism and news reporting. Now that the MSM is predominantly paid opinion, those who don’t understand the difference take media opinion as gospel. And those people follow the media that align with their own aspirations and beliefs.
    How do we break the cycle? Well it is nearly impossible in the current political climate. The LNP and Right Wing extremists in particular actively undermine education for the average Australian and encourage corporate control of mainstream media.
    I suppose that the current situation will persist until a large percentage of lives are ruined by this combination of political and social conditioning. Anarchy will ensue and cause enough upheaval that the country will be forced to change.
    Sadly there is a lot of carnage heading our way..

  7. michael lacey

    To neoliberals, everyone and everything are disposable. The common good—the building of community and solidarity—has been replaced through decades of corporate indoctrination with the callous call to amass all you can for yourself and leave the stranger bleeding on the side of the road. citizenship, or what remains of it, is practiced amidst a continuing state of worry. Hobbes had it right: when citizens are insecure and at the same time driven by competitive aspirations, they yearn for political stability rather than civic engagement, protection rather than political involvement.”
    Sheldon Wolin calls our present situation ‘Inverted Totalitarianism’ constantly “projects power upwards.” It is “the antithesis of constitutional power.” It is designed to create instability to keep a citizenry off balance and passive.
    He writes, “Downsizing, reorganization, bubbles bursting, unions busted, quickly outdated skills, and transfer of jobs abroad create not just fear but an economy of fear, a system of control whose power feeds on uncertainty, yet a system that, according to its analysts, is eminently rational.”….. “We trivialize political discourse, a tactic used to leave the public fragmented, antagonistic and emotionally charged while leaving corporate power and empire unchallenged.”

    The media substitute cultural wars for any meaningful political discourse. The notoriety they receive from the media and from politicians eager to take firm stands on nonsubstantive issues serves to distract attention and contribute to a cant “politics of the inconsequential.”

  8. helvityni

    And this is why the Berminghams and his ilk want to destroy the public education, they don’t want a thinking, educated population, the dumb ones are so much easier to handle, they naively believe everything that they hear and see on their commercial channels, they trust their leaders and their shock jocks to tell the truth.

    The rise of Hansonism is also helpful the for Right-wingers, Pauline can do their dirty work….The DD worked for them after all..

  9. Zathras

    Listeners to those talk-back shows are simply addicted to outrage and are ruled by their emotions.

    Station owners know this and use it to sell their products,

    They are also “blame-storming” sessions and a soapbox for unreal expectations and misguided memories of nostalgia- a time when women and blacks knew their place and poofter-bashing was just a weekend sport.

    They may convince you that you have a hole in your life the size of a flat screen TV or that all your problems are somebody else’s fault.

    In the end all they want to do is to sell you funeral plans or incontinence pads and can just be switched off.

    Unfortunately they are taken too seriously.

    At least they are not as bad as the US equivalent where they have openly alleged that Michelle Obama is actually a man and Joan Rivers was assassinated for revealing the truth.

  10. jack z

    Hello Kaye.. an appearance of keywords like `right wing feral’, thanks to the magic of SOE, will have you at the receiving end of Murdoch Media promotional offers.

    And Trish.. In looking up the Leyenholm/libertarian platform info a year or so back I was amazed that this philosophy could attract votes.. but it is the senate.

  11. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, the ads are based on both your search history and the content on the site. John would have to mention the Mutdoch media in his article! ?

    Or maybe Murdoch is a big supporter of The AIMN. ?

  12. Michael Taylor

    Some of those Facebook pages were kicked off to encourage constructive and intelligent debate between the Left and the Right, but despite their best intentions they’ve turned into an arena for abusive trolls to strut their stuff. I’ve visited them (not necessarily those mentioned in the article), left an innocent enough comment, and found myself the target of abusive attacks. I could have said “good morning” and I still would have been ‘punched’. But instead of sticking around and trying to debate with a group of people who have no interest in debating . . . I simply don’t go back. There’s no point. They WANT you to stay there so they can keep attacking you. Why give them a target?

  13. Kaye Lee

    Michael, I remember ages ago a discussion about the exploitation and abuse of children in SE Asia, particularly by white male tourists, and all of a sudden I was getting ads for Asian girls in skimpy clothes. Thanks for blocking them btw. Google can take research the wrong way. I can understand the Australian ad now because I often am led by google to an article and then firewalled out and I would NEVER pay to read the Australian.

  14. Stephen

    Trish it’s sad to feel you can make no difference and wonder why bother. I tipped over that point some years ago myself, and while my views haven’t really changed my belief in reason and discussion never strong has evaporated. I became interested with Whitlam and his policies and views as a 20 year old. But burdened with a pretty good memory and a capacity and preference for reasoned analysis of matters whether for or against my views and no desire to impose on others and expecting the same in return I have been constantly disappointed in either small and at times large degree. Whitlam had faults no doubt but set the social agenda Australia followed for decades China Medibank etc. Fraser slowed things but no real turning back Hawke I never greatly supported but he had a view of where Australia should be going long term as Whitlam did. Howard was the first with his pathetic obsession with out doing Menzies at being Menzian we lost over a decade spinning wheels going nowhere. Julia Gillard while I disliked strongly her policies on same sex marriage and asylum seekers had a long term view for advancing the country Carbon Tax Gonski NBN National Disability Scheme and achieved them in a minority government. Abbott and now Turnbull needing to maintain his job are dedicated to destroying anything she did no matter how important it is to the future of the country. She robbed them of the victory they felt was their natural right and she succeeded at her policy initiatives and a woman as well not to be tolerated. Any policy at all she touched has to be destroyed and just about burnt to sterilize and remove any advances we made.
    The big thing to look out for is how much the other person obsess with the past and how often the future. It may often change with age. mine hasn’t at all maybe the opposite I look forward to the future but I remember the past and the problems we had at the time Vietnam, for just one and registering for the draft and not being selected. Drugs, Aboriginal rights sexual Puritanism, pollution, threats of nuclear war. Oh yes great and glorious days no doubt that is why so many of them are still with us. The mark of a good leader is someone with a long term view of the future and where and how we should get there successfully, Whitlam Hawke Gillard had this Howard and Abbott just want to recreate the past and drag us all backwards. The future is uncertain and they feel afraid of change it may affect their current status. The past was survived and led them to here so stick with the old we know about that.

  15. Max Gross

    John! You have just encapsulated the characteristics of the current (so-called) “Liberal” party: nefarious, malevolent, xenophobic, bigoted, homophobic, ubiquitous, discourteous and disgustingly bad mannered!

  16. helvityni

    I read the Monthly article about Ms Guthrie; someone said that these days you need to be a comedian to get a job on ABC. He/she was right, it’s all repeats and fun stuff over there. And I agree with Kaye Lee, even Ferguson is these days only a presenter, like Kerry O’Brian became towards the end of his ABC career.

  17. Ray

    We see John Howard is back now as presenter on Menzies. He’s really is great at putting words in other peoples mouths when he interviews them. And I thought he was going to have an orgasm marvelling about Robert Menzies at one stage.

  18. Terry2

    It is sad, John that every time reasonable people try to find a humane way of resettling these unfortunate people on Nauru and Manus, after three years in enforced detention, we are yelled at for wanting to see people drowning at see or, as with the PM in New York, it is all blamed on Labor and the ‘Legacy of Shame’.

    Why can’t we just admit that there has been a policy failure which needs to be corrected before these people sink further into depression and other mental illnesses : it may already be too late.

  19. mark

    When did it all go wrong.When a generation fails.mark

  20. Jack Straw

    Mark where did it all go wrong,when a generation fails.mark

    Answer Never sit back and take your victories for granted. Especially in peace time

  21. Glenn K

    Trish, where we can make changes is one person at a time. Engaging in debate and discussion with the people we know who are stuck in the “blame others and believe in individualism” mind-set. It is a way to lose some friends, but also deepen friendships with others.
    I was living in London during 9/11 and offended more than a few people with my claims that the WMD was all bullshit from the government in power to meet a pre-ordained agenda. Years later many of them expressed acknowledgement that I was probably correct and certainly more aware. These friends are now more aware. 🙂
    one person at a time……

  22. nurses1968

    Trish Corry
    ” I often question if anyone actually cares. In my opinion, most seek affirmation, not facts or learning or even discussion.”
    Most blog sites while providing factual information for those seeking it tend to attract a small following of like minded correspondents who seem to come for affirmation and confirmation of their already formed and entrenched views.This is obvious on most sites whether they brand themselves progressive, right or left.Just watch when an opposing view surfaces just how quickly the regulars close ranks to shut down any alternate views.The other is the readiness to brand or stereotype groups with alternate views as bogans,uneducated idiots or worse.
    I am not a supporter of Pauline Hanson or her views but supporters of One Nation are continual targets on this site as the stereotypes I mentioned.
    The majority of Australians as at the last substantive poll on Asylum seekers were opposed to bringing them here so are they all bogans? The last Essential Poll showed 49% of those polled supported banning Muslim immigration so of course that 49% must be uneducated bogans if you stick to group think even though according to the survey 40% of people identifying themselves as Labor voters support a ban on Muslim immigration, and there is 34% support among Green voters.
    So,are a decent percentage of Labor and Greens supporters bogans also?
    If some were convinced they had the answers why not go to sites with opposing views and state the case there rather than just talk amongst yourselves.and pat each other on the back for holding similar views and seeking reinforcement of the locked in lock step views.
    p.s. I expect a flaming from the resident mutual admiration society, and that will only reinforce my point

  23. Kaye Lee


    The survey was conducted online from the 27th July to 1st August 2016 and is based on 1,000 respondents. That means 490 people who chose to respond online want to ban Muslim immigration. That is hardly “a majority of Australians.”

    450 people in the same survey agreed with the statement “Pauline Hanson’s views do not reflect Australian values and she should not be given so much media coverage.”

    380 people agreed that “Paul Hanson’s election to the Senate is a backward step for Australian democracy”

    58% of people aged 18-24 are opposed to banning Muslim immigration. These are the new generation who should have some say in our future – they are not the people who listen to talk back radio or read the Daily Telegraph. They don’t understand why old people are so afraid.

    And they want to talk about scaring old people about Medicare – how about deliberately scaring the bejesus out of them about any woman or girl wearing a veil?

    As for “supporters of One Nation are continual targets on this site”. I am not sure about targets but I think it is incumbent on all of us to combat racism and discrimination. Hopefully we can do it with facts because so much of the fear is irrational and reporting misleading, as with the survey you mentioned.

  24. Kaye Lee

    ” why not go to sites with opposing views and state the case there rather than just talk amongst yourselves.and pat each other on the back for holding similar views and seeking reinforcement of the locked in lock step views.”

    It depends if you want to be abused or learn things. You can have a flaming row with people who will never be convinced by anything you have to say or you can have a discussion with people whose opinion and knowledge you respect who ask questions, point out problems, and teach you new things as the discussion progresses. It’s not about winning a war but enjoying conversation and furthering one’s own knowledge.

  25. Lance

    Mark -When did it all go wrong ?
    Answer= the Horrid Howard Years,where this backward nasty biggot set about undoing the Hawk,Keating financial and social fairplay thread that had been woven by fairplay policy makers in respect of the rules and equal treatment for all concerned
    Howard set about desensitizing the Australian public through an onslaught of a culture war of lies and falsehoods that wove a different nasty social thread that through dog whistle and nasty treatment of the less fortunate

    He alone allowed and ligitimized nastiness -wheather it be to sick and injured Refugee seekers ,Australian aborigines seeking Sorry for past sins ,or rewriting history that he alone agreed or disagreed should be written or removed

    Mark —We are living through the legacy of the Horrid Howard Years and to answer your question —
    Thats where and when it all went wrong

  26. Kaye Lee


    In the 1995 budget, Ralph Willis unveiled a scheduled increase in compulsory super from 9% to 12% and eventually to 15%. It was to be one of the Keating government’s major legacy reforms.


    In its superannuation policy for the 1996 election, Super for all, the Coalition, which had hitherto been implacably opposed to Labor’s policies, promised it:

    •Will provide in full the funds earmarked in the 1995 — 96 Budget to match compulsory employee contributions according to the proposed schedule;

    •Will deliver this government contribution into superannuation or like savings;

    •Reserves the right to vary the mechanism for delivering this contribution so as to provide the most effective and equitable delivery of the funds.


    So why don’t we have 15% superannuation now? Because John Howard and Peter Costello nixed it in the 1996 budget barely six months after it released its policy, insisting it was too expensive. They didn’t “vary the mechanism” so much as halted it, just as Abbott did.

    Lies to win elections (WMD, children overboard) were a winner for Howard. Abbott and Turnbull are sticking to the script – emphasis on national security and any distraction they can to divert attention away from their lack of economic management. Porkbarreling works…just look at them moving one PS agency to Joyce’s electorate to decentralise while centralising Medicare payments in capital cities.

  27. crypt0

    Why is the Right So Feral?
    Why do they employ vicious, vile, ill-informed, fact-less views?
    Because it’s just the way the bxxtxxds are … it’s in their DNA …
    And then of course there’s howard, lately infecting the ABC with his particular brand of crap.
    You can’t keep a good turd down, to paraphrase Paul Keating, I think.

  28. Möbius Ecko

    Agree Lance. There were issues with the Labor governments prior to Howard, and with the Liberals one before that, but it was Howard alone who really sent the whole thing backwards. He broke unwritten agreements to no use race in elections and so many other standing tenets on fairness.

    Morally and financially the country has not recovered from his terms.

  29. kerri

    The right wing value opinion over fact hence their love of shock jocks. Can anyone name a left wing shock jock?? The other interesting point about shock jocks appears to be geographical. They flourish in Sydney. Sorry Sydney folk but that seems evident. Can anyone name a Melbourne, Adelaide or Hobart shock jock? Shock jocks appeal to the older generations for whom print, TV and Radio were the source of truth and all information. The providers of this information have long become beholden to their media overlords and political allies. The elderly are either too tired or unable to comprehend the delusion they are being fed. The youth of today will turn to the internet and thanks to trolls and other web scams are more tuned in to being fooled by what they see.

  30. Harquebus

    Which site exactly are you talking about John? I would like to take a look.

  31. crypt0

    nurses 1968
    “why not go to sites with opposing views and state the case” ?
    Ha !
    I tried that for a while on the herald Sun and andrew bolt sites … it soon became apparent that much of what I was trying to say was being deleted … so much for the sites with opposing views .
    And no, no abuse, swearing or other stuff that could reasonably be deleted.
    I sent a letter to the HSun, 4 short sentences knowing that short was the formula to get published there … they deleted the 4th sentence … the punchline naturally … guess it was still too long for the HSun readers !
    I am guessing that by the length of your post here, your experience on AIM has been distinctly different to mine on the HSun.
    Still waiting for the “flaming” … pretty disappointing, huh ?

  32. johnlord2013

    Hararquebus. Just type into your facebook search. Australian Political Debate. BUT BE WARNED.

  33. nurses1968

    Kaye Lee
    As you are well aware polls are only a reflection of community views and of course you can read into individual categories as you have what you like.From my reading on this site Essential is one of the more respected polling agencies {when it suits} but overall polls in Australia have been reasonable accurate to within 1 or 2% over time.They are a reflection of community views and and to just ignore them when they don’t suit the argument is pretty counterproductive.
    Studies have shown polling is usually not too far off the mark http://theconversation.com/election-explainer-what-are-the-opinion-polls-and-how-accurate-are-they-57973

  34. mars08

    @Kaye Lee…. thanks for putting things in some perspective.

    Essentially, between 27th July to 1st August 2016, a group of 1000 people, with the time, sufficient enthusiasm, and an internet connection… responded to the poll. Of these 490 wanted to ban Muslims coming into Australia. Hmmmm… Sounds legit to me!

    As for going to “sites with opposing views” for debate… I really have no desire to do that, nor do I need to. There is not a week that goes by that I don’t cop an avalanche of right-wing ignorance and misinformation, directly to my face. These was a time I would try and debate the loons… a time when I would try and produce facts to disprove their dribble… but it was pointless. They just believe what they want to believe. Besides, looking for “sites with opposing views” is entirely unnecessary. Those opposing views assault me whenever I see a newspaper headline, turn on the radio or hear a political speech. And I don’t dare watch TV…

  35. Kaye Lee

    I am not at all sure that I agree that polls are an accurate reflection of community views and I most certainly do NOT change that opinion dependent on the result of said polls. As a maths person I understand all too well how statistics can be distorted, particlarly when inferring population statistics from such a very small sample. As the Essential report says, “In theory, with a sample of this size, there is 95 per cent certainty that the results are within 3 percentage points of what they would be if the entire population had been polled. However, this assumes random sampling, which, because of non-response and less than 100% population coverage cannot be achieved in practice. Furthermore, there are other possible sources of error in all polls including question wording and question order, interviewer bias (for telephone and face-to-face polls), response errors and weighting.” The very fact that someone agrees to answer the poll makes the selection not random. People who are not worried about something are less likely to answer than someone who is worried.

    However, that is not really my point. I was commenting on the reporting of that poll which I feel was misleading. They could just as easily have said the majority of Australians don’t agree with a ban on Muslim immigration (51% is bigger than 49%). I also feel that leadership makes an enormous difference in areas like this. Scott Morrison very deliberately suggested inflaming concerns about Muslims as a political strategy. It has worked.

    From 2011:

    THE opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.

    Mr Morrison’s suggestion was made at a meeting in December at which shadow ministers were asked to bring three ideas for issues on which the Coalition should concentrate its political attack during this parliamentary term…..several colleagues, including the deputy leader, Julie Bishop, and the former immigration minister Philip Ruddock, strongly disagreed with the suggestion, pointing out that the Coalition had long supported a non-discriminatory immigration policy and saying it was not an issue that should be pursued.


  36. Harquebus

    John Lord
    I know better than to use facebook.
    Thanks anyway. Appreciated.

    Here is something that I just finished reading. Some might find it interesting.

    “The people who see that open societies, being nice to other people, not being racist, not fighting wars, is a better way to live, they generally end up losing these fights. They don’t fight dirty. They are terrible at appealing to the populace. They are less violent, so end up in prisons, camps, and graves.”

  37. stephentardrew

    Enjoyed John. likes are disabled at the moment.

  38. Brian

    Great article once again John. I believe that the sites, shock jocks, politicians of the right & some of the left have gained traction due to fear. The world is changing at a rapid rate & people who have little or no education & some who do are fearful of change. This was recognized by the proprietors of the various businesses that promote the voices that shout loudest & they saw a financial opportunity which they have exploited. Politicians who are of that bent tie their coat tails to the diatribe that ensues sometimes as they are lazy thinkers but mostly as they see that there is a proletariat that can be exploited. In the instances of Abbott & Hanson I suggest both causes. The policies that get proposed tend to encourage the status quo as this is what business who support these politicians want, stability. This gives us the nexus of proletariat, politicians & business preventing growth, learning & advancement. Being a socialist progressive is the worst a person could be. Guess I am that worst.

  39. Michael Taylor

    Stephen, the Likes will come back eventually. Since the WordPress update a number of things are slow at loading, but they soon fix themselves. I’ve liked this post three times but they keep disappearing! So until WordPress fix the glitches a few features might temporarily disappear for a short while.

  40. Jexpat

    In it was axiomatic in the early days of BBS’s and usenet and then the first decade world wide web, that anonymity was the major driving force behind the sort of feral behavior we see online. The theory was that people felt “free” (or were tempted and encouraged) to act out like bratty, bullying children and adolescents.

    With the advent of facebook, came the opportunity to observe whether and to what extent this might be so. Turns out that anonymity may not be as strong a factor as we thought. Even accounting for differences in online population subsets (facebook users may be more obnoxious than users of other commenting apps) we see an impressive amount of “feral behavior” that’s not deterred by having one’s name “out there.”

    Of course, some of this may also be attributed to changes in public mores and ethics over time, including people modeling dishonest, outrageous behavior they see- and see accepted and rewarded throughout the corporate media and among the more vile of our politicians.

  41. Jexpat


    “Essential polling” is a for profit consultancy group with a dodgy and proprietary (i.e. largely hidden) methodology. The fact that every now and again (perhaps by random chance) they call one subject accurately doesn’t lend credence to their overall efforts.

    Fact of the matter is- and anyone can confirm this for themselves, their research methods would not pass muster at the university level (and would be rejected for publication by credible academic journals).

    Unfortunately, the members of the Australian media (being largely innumerate- having never taken even the most basic of stats courses) will cite them (and even cite their own laughable “internet polls”) as Gospel Truth.

    Moreover, if you look carefully at their assertion: that they “chart the national mood and drive public & media debate” what you see is an indication that they take pride in influencing public opinion, NOT accurately reflecting it. An all too common phenomenon among such firms in the 21st Century.

  42. kerri

    Having studied survey techniques at Uni I can assure you that polls will always, always miss one demographic!
    And that demographic, logically, is the people who refuse to answer surveys!
    My bet is the right, angry, shock jock listeners are more prone to answering surveys where the well educated less virulent members of society tend to refuse. But I am probably profiling there.
    I for one, will nearly always answer surveys as having carried out many, I am aware how difficult accurate survey results are. Also the smaller the cohort the less useful the results. When I taught VCE Geography I told my students a cohort of less than 100 was useless. Survey results are presented in percentages so 100 seems logical. The smaller the cohort the larger the influence of each individual response. I have my doubts about the 49% anti muslim result. I am hoping Peter Lewis will follow up with further surveys as a one off deviation is entirely possible.

  43. mars08

    I recall reading that Peter Lewis (EMC) had carried out this poll, in part, because there was some question about a previous poll… and the reported public animosity towards Muslims.

  44. Trevor Rose (@galacticprez)

    No surprises there … I’ve been well aware of this for at least a decade, and for 2 decades before that I could see it was the direction we were headed.

  45. Phil

    Associate Professor Bob Altemeyer. Department of Psychology, University of Manitoba, Canada, answers every question posed in John Lord’s article. Backed by extensive research, his book (free to download) is titled The Authoritarians – his web page exceeds 300,000 visits so I’ll let it speak for itself.


  46. Steph Carroll

    Forgive me for having a little laugh at the rehashing of a past article to garner attention to oneself.
    John Lord, when was the last time you commented in the Australian Federal Govt forum? Of which you couldn’t even get the name right this time !


    This would have to be the most disingenuous article i have read, since you posted the first one, almost identical – only difference you actually did include a feral group 🙂

    I’m sure you’ve got a day job, right?

  47. Jexpat

    Kerri wrote: “Having studied survey techniques at Uni I can assure you that polls will always, always miss one demographic!
    And that demographic, logically, is the people who refuse to answer surveys!”

    Bingo. And within that “big box” of those missed are many sources of statistical bias (which is different from from what we tend to think of as bias in political or psychological contexts). To account and compensate for bias in sampling, we can try to apply weighing methods and other statistical fixes, but as often as not, doing so relies on asssumptions that we can’t validate or verify.

    People sometimes think that a larger sample size means results in any given survey are more “believable”

    -which is understandable- yet a misunderstanding.

    If the same flaws exist in ‘the choice’ of 200 people, they’ll exist in 20,000 people. While it’s true that larger sample sizes can provide more “statistical power,” and that small sample sizes we sometimes see in research are suspect (lacking statistical power), the only way we can responsibly generalise the sample: make a claim that it’s represenative of a broader population, is to randomise a sample of a sufficent number of participants (including randomising cohorts and regional clusters) which tends to cancel out sources of bias.

    As to this particular survey, like you, I have my personal doubts as to its validity. But more more worrisome are the memes going around: that this result is credible- or that this outfit is credible (never mind the lack of transparency, profit motives, client seeking and satisfaction, etc.) just because they managed to call an outcome “correctly” once upon a time.

    We all need to do a much better job of thinking critically than that in the 21st Century.

  48. benway

    John Lord, I always enjoy reading your articles, thank you for another which is interesting and thought-provoking. Today I am inspired to share my thoughts.

    I think all people realise that the standard of living is falling for the majority. For many it seems a tangible target for blame is required, the more simplistic the better as our education standards have been falling for some time. ( I agree, helvityni, that this is purposeful in order to exert control more easily).

    To me the appeal of the ferals is their simplistic blame game, which the Government actively encourages – far easier to blame a sector of society (immigrants, refugees, Muslims, ‘welfare bludgers’ and so on) than to keep informed politically about the insidious changes being foisted upon us by a Government who patently has no interest in shaping the country for the benefit of all citizens.

    People are directed to yearn for the ‘good old days’ without paying any heed to the fact that they have left us due to our national apathy regarding politics. We have passively allowed our country to be overtaken by politicians who see their role as an end unto itself rather than representing the public.

    The relative anonymity of social media makes the simplistic bold, and the trend of society toward individualism rather than community absolves them of any guilt for their vile hounding of those who do not fall into line with their way of thinking. It can be soul-destroying, for me less due to the vileness of the personal attacks, and more due to the utter refusal to change a view.

    You can probably tell I despair daily about this, I just have so little hope for the future. The little I do have is invested in knowing that my 20yo son is at least able to see past this circus and think for himself.

    In the meantime, I do chip away and post as many facts as possible.

  49. Pingback: Day to Day Politics: Destroying what we stand for. | WewUnik World

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