Managing by surveys can destroy the country: Ignorant, emotional but highly confident


More than any other country, our headlines are flooded with surveys as if they are of prime importance in decision-making in the country, when they are more a tally of the opinions…  of a population that global surveys show to be largely emotional, uninformed and easily manipulable.  Comparatively, any study of Asia’s publications in progressive countries, Singapore’s Straits Times, the Bangkok Post, Xinhua, the Korean or Japanese papers, etc., will show readily that the preoccupation is business and developmental, culture and not opinions of the uninformed.
Surveys themselves will show that survey results are poor indicators of factuality, quality or of future events, except in politics, entertainment and consumer products.  Surveys are a disastrous basis for decisions for people and nations, and have caused unnecessary wars, stagnation and poverty of millions at a time.  Surveys would show that the world was flat, that amulets can protect you from bullets and that people cannot walk in the moon.

Surveys would show we Filipinos used to laugh at Japanese products as cheap and low quality, then we laughed at Taiwan, then at South Korea, we stopped laughing but always looked for another laughingstock. Until a 15 years ago, we thought “we will produce the higher value goods…” than China and laughed at the misspelled labels. We are not snickering anymore now as we buy Apple and Huawei phones, and we are a little more careful about looking down at Vietnam…

A Dunning Kruger study showed that people with the lowest in cognitive tasks always statistically overestimated how well they did.  Aligned with this, a 2017 study on the Perils of Perception, among 38 countries, showed Filipinos to be the 3rd most ignorant of key issues, and yet among the most confident that they are right!  Various surveys are somehow surprised that Filipinos in their milieu are so happy, and that given their history, love the  US more than the US’ own citizens do.

Still believe in surveys for analytical activities?  Our near-bottom-of-79 country scores in Science, Math and Reading (2019 Program for International Student Assessment), are proxy variables confirming our people having poor knowledge of facts, comprehension and poor ability to communicate nuance, to infer, to deduce or to conclude.  Isn’t this is a bigger, more basic problem in today’s world for the Filipino, one that we can do something more about, one that is a key foundation of all our other weaknesses — in politics, personal decisions, manufacturing, poverty and justice?  Another survey shows the average Filipino spends more than 10 hours on the internet, social media, and quite a bit on porno… we have to adjust our behavior and culture, and surveys of uninformed populations cannot be the basis of national directions.

Clearly the surveys, when they come out in barrages in front pages, are organized to influence political opinion and results. This happens frequently in anti-Duterte media, and sometimes versus the political opposition as well.  Topics also regularly demonize China, without research on the comparative data.

Instances include the when China is regularly accused of “ debt traps “ without indicating that past financial implosions around the world have been over 90 percent with the Western lending institutions, or if Sri Lanka port is brought up, the highly successful Piraeus port is never brought up, or the Jobo bills 45-percent interest rates that crushed the Philippine economy then under Western supervision;  the automatic appropriations by the Cory administration, to protect Western banks, is also not brought up.

When warnings are brought up by “patriots” of imminent invasions and spying by China, there is no historical data brought up that almost all the instances in the world in the last decades were by another country.  An issue with China highlighted, but not Malaysia’s occupation of Sabah or the support for the Mindanao rebellion, or the Vietnamese takeover of the Southwest Cay island formerly occupied by the Philippines, or the Vietnamese ongoing reclamations and poaching.  Why are these not being reported?

While these warnings to be careful in dealing with China have some legitimate basis for our country to watch out for, which should be true in relation to the US and even the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well, the focus on China is exceptional, and the frequency of the articles and their costliness. We should question who is spreading all this, what for, and how, which includes regular barrages of “survey” information.

Between December 5 to 9 alone, an SWS survey saying Filipinos are “worried”, “alarmed”… about Chinese workers came out in a flood — CNN Philippines, Rappler, Star, and several times in the Inquirer.   Around the same time also, a barrage that reported on surveys showing that Filipinos considered the US-Philippine ties as more important than ties with China.  There were false reports of takeover of Filipino jobs; but none of the local employments generated or the billions of new revenue pumped into the economy and education and technology exchanges benefiting countless of Filipinos; none about the current territorial issues, violations and military casualties around the world involving the US.  Were there front page reports of China’s various assistance, that they had helped the Philippines  in Marawi amidst a US arms embargo, and that China had resolved 17/23 international territorial issues, that the areas under its jurisdiction or doing business with them (while managing issues along the way), have had far more economic progress than many under direct US control, like Haiti and Puerto Rico mired in poverty?

Would Filipinos begin to open their minds more if there were equal coverage of the US put-downs of the ICC, UN, WTO, and the dozens of deals that were broken after agreements were reached?

International surveys vs PH surveys: US is the greatest threat to world peace 

While two of our country’s “nationwide” polling companies regularly release surveys that report that Filipinos trust the US more than China, in a worldwide survey by WIN/Gallup in 2013 of 65 countries (67,000 respondents), 24 percent believe the US is the greatest threat to world peace, followed by Pakistan 8 percent, China 6 percent… In a 2017 survey by Pew Research of 30 nations, 35 percent said that the United States posed “a major threat to our country,” 31 percent for Russia and China.  What is telling is that most of the 30 nations were US allies, but none were allies of Russia and China.  In the United Nations, over 100 countries frequently vote vs US geopolitical positions.  An intensive analysis

The Social Weather Station, Pulse Asia, and some of our media and think tanks keep on putting survey results on complex issues, based on mass populations without relevant knowledge, in the front pages.  Does this help us make more intelligent decisions?  Are these the issues we can do the most about to improve our countrymen’s lives?  Shouldn’t the counter balancing information be brought out? There are definitely many useful roles for surveys and media in our economic and even political life.  But we need to balance them out with other information to give a more complete, larger, more detailed picture, based on more proven frameworks in world history, from more knowledgeable sources with track records of success, and educate our people not in distractions but on productive priorities.

(Part of the series: ” PH: Highest Pornhub User, Social Media User, High Teen Pregnancy, Lowest Test Scores?

New Worlds by Integrated Development Studies Institute ( aims to present frameworks based on a balance of economic theory, historical realities, ground success in real business and communities, and attempt for common good, culture, and spirituality. We welcome logical feedback and possibly working together with compatible frameworks.

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