Ng’s response to Salmond

In response Rob Salmond’s  A week on from the housing controversy where he tries to defend his and Phil Twyford’s use of property sales data and also refers to people who have bee very critical.

After I published Labour’s method online, Keith Ng, Tze Ming Mok, and Chuan-Zheng Lee – all skilled analysts, all otherwise critical on this topic – all agreed the name-based ethnicity analysis was statistically sound, robust, and accurate.


Having said that, one group I think did not overreact – despite their strongly critical stance – was the New Zealand Chinese community, including Keith, Tze Ming, and Chuan-Zheng. Their criticism was less about Labour’s intentions, and more about the impact of these revelations on ethnically Chinese New Zealanders.

Ng reacted angrily on Twitter:

New post: has been making shit up about what we’ve been saying about and his analysis.

Hey , which part of “cynical, reckless dogwhistling” made you think I was okay with ‘s intentions?

Hey , who should I talk to about getting a correction in the next issue? ‘s column grossly misrepresented what..

Salmond responded:

I will happily defend my column in the event of said formal complaints.

 Ng retorted:

Really? You think you can justify claiming that me, and “all agreed the name-based ethnicity analysis was statistically sound, robust, and accurate”?

Name-based ethnicity analysis was statistically sound, robust, and accurate”? Cos I’m bloody sure I didn’t, and that you can’t “honest opinion” that shit.

And he re-pointed to his Public address column in response – Don’t put words in our mouths, Rob where he details his disagreement, including:

Hey Rob, don’t put the words “statistically sound, robust, and accurate” into our mouths to describe your work.

If you need clarification, let me restate it: The method is fine, the data is broken, and those problems render it unscientific and utterly useless. Not sound. Not robust. Not accurate.

I was very critical of Labour intentions and I thought I was bloody clear about it.

I said that Phil Twyford was knowingly “straight-up scapegoating” Chinese New Zealanders and offshore Chinese alike and “fueling racial division in this country”. I said it was “cynical, reckless dogwhistling”.

What part of this was ambiguous for you??? Did you think I meant “cynical, reckless, but ultimately well-intentioned dogwhistling”?

Even after a week where Labour has been trying to take the “reverse racism” highground, trying to pretend that we didn’t blame Labour is a new delusional high, Rob.

That’s fairly clear.  Even Rob should get the hint from that.

Ng went on the re-explain his thoughts on Labour’s use of the data.

 they claim their intention was to talk about offshoreness, but what they knew about offshoreness only came from “informed speculation” secondary to the main analysis about ethnicity.

And what did Rob concluded from this “informed speculation”?

My conclusion: if my prior for “is there large-scale offshore $?” were X, my posterior post these data is >X

It’s a wanky way of saying: After seeing the Chinese-sounding names evidence, he is more confident that “there is large-scale offshore Chinese buying in Auckland” than he was before. How confident was he before? And how much more confident has he become?

No, I won’t quantify it, because that would be introducing false precision to qualitative reasoning.

But here’s the problem. He is literally saying his level of certainty isunknown + unknown. Which equals, of course: unknown.

This is the statistical basis on which Twyford is out there using words like “implausible” and “very unlikely”.

Ng concludes:

That is to say, Rob believe it’s okay to use evidence which supports a claim in political debate, explicitly regardless of how weak it is. According to Rob, any shred of evidence is okay in a political debate, because that’s how political debates work.

Please do not mistake me for thinking that this is well-intentioned. This is a cynical attempt to bamboozle the media and the public by hiding your utter lack of evidence behind fancy jargon. It’s a travesty and a sad excuse for analysis. You ought to be ashamed, Rob.

Also, Sunday-Star Times: These claims Rob made about me are incorrect and defamatory. Please issue an correction in your next issue.

The comments continue to be scathing. Another of those mentioned in Salmond’s column and post, Tze Mink Mok, joined in.

I am so fucking pissed off. Rob says of me, Keith and CZ, “Their criticism was less about Labour’s intentions”?? Either Rob was lying or he didn’t bother reading my column (possible): because THAT WAS MY MAIN CRITICISM. Jesus, my blog didn’t even MENTION the effects of any racist backlash on the Chinese community.

Rob’s latest column is just barefaced partisan hackery. I know Russell reposted it to encourage generate debate, but I’m embarrassed that it might be seen as an endorsement of Rob’s independence. Russell, I think that perhaps for Speaker posts it’s a good idea to include a line about the author’s political party affiliations and employment.

Seriously, this is just blatant damage control for the Labour party. Rob*lies* about the debate, and is entirely focused on framing critics of the Labour party as CRAZY and IRRATIONAL while carefully singling out three Chinese critics for praise in order to avoid accusations of racism. He’s shitting on any non-Chinese person who supported us. Because obviously, if you’re not Chinese and say exactly the same things that me and Keith said, and openly supported our positions, you must be completely irrational.

Keith, this is what happens when we fight them on the stats instead of on the solidarity. It goes “Ah yes, much respect to the Chinese who are good at stats [ignores substance of everything the Chinese people were saying because they know nobody understands stats so you can say whatever you want about what the Chinese people were saying about the stats] everybody else is CRAZY.”

And ‘Sue’ has a less emotional but no less pertinent point:

I’m so glad i don’t read sunday papers, but i’m so sad to see words twisted like that. I think what Rob Salmond and the labour party have failed to do is listen.

Listen to people who are hurt & ashamed by a party that at it’s roots is about people. They are so busy fighting to assert the rightness of what they are saying they didn’t notice they’ve exposed some seriously ingrained racism in this country. Why are they not sad & embarrassed and apologetic about the hurt and pain they are causing all the many different asian communities in NZ.

Why is that not the lead on Rob’s article, inside of an afterthought.

There’s no sign of Labour listening or learning from this yet. They keep digging the hole they have jumped into deeper. Salmond is shovelling shit.