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Anti-corporal punishment lobbyists abuse the scientific process to further their pernicious political cause

Filed under: General,Law & Courts — Julie @ 10:18 am Fri 3rd July 2009

By Barbara Faithfull

On 16th June 2009 I wrote (in “The fraudulent case against corporal punishment”) : “The anti-corporal punishment lobbyists operate dishonestly” etc. Nevertheless I hardly expected them so soon to provide the excellent proof of that assertion which has come to hand over the past few days via abuse of the scientific process. Professional statisticians are strangely slow to challenge this sort of deceitful lobbying, so I feel bound to make some effort in that direction.

For example take the 29th June N.Z.Herald pseudo news headline : “Three out of four think poll waste of money”. Oh yes? A poll by Research New Zealand (whoever they are) of 481 people “found” 77 per cent did not support the $M8.9 being spent on the smacking referendum.

So the figure of 77 per cent of 481 people — a mere drop in the bucket population-wise – is supposed to be statistically significant — representative of the population as a whole – and so enough to score political points in the current debate. Of course it is not statistically significant in this current debacle and offering it as such is sheer political chicanery and abuse of the scientific process.

Moreover, the Herald should be ashamed for giving publicity to such misleading and obvious political posturing by the anti-corporal punishment lobby.

My other example was the 23rd June 2009 media release by Barnardoes, another anti-corporal punishment lobby. Their gloating but highly misleading heading said it all : “Smacking – ‘It’s wrong, full stop’ say children”. “Children” ?

The implication is, of course, that children in general say this, but that sensationalist heading to their press release is simply the result of more shifty, politically expedient statistical jiggery pokery.

There are so many questionable aspects to this example which deserve an in-depth analysis and challenge, but I shall limit myself to just a few points, for now at least.

Firstly, the children involved in the survey were interviewed by telephone, with all the many and varied complications which that would create anyway. This was conducted on a child helpline known as 0800WHATSUP, and operated by the Kids’ Help Foundation Trust. That means that the survey respondents were self-selected, which is highly unscientific; so there was no random sampling of the populace.

Also, according to the survey’s accompanying information, this helpline receives more than 1400 calls daily from children and young people from throughout NZ, and the survey was conducted for 14 days between 27th April last and 10th May. So we should be able to safely assume that the helpline received over that survey period of 14 days (1400 calls x 14 days) almost 20,000 calls.

Yet for numerous reasons — and many quite valid, as explained — the final tally of “valid responses” able to be used in the survey was whittled down to a miniscule 1677, and out of those an even more miniscule 958 — out of nearly 20,000 – had opted for the punishment of parents so gloatingly paraded above the press release. The number opting not to punish parents incidentally, was 548, hence the hailing of the final result as a “majority” opting to have parents punished, despite the fact that such a figure would be statistically insignificant anyway.

So on that feeble and flimsy basis Barnardoes has seen fit to trumpet and gloat over the “opinions” of children who in no way represent New Zealand’s children as a whole, let alone the majority of them!. Moreover, the crafty and most honourable-sounding pretext offered for this charade was : “As a means of providing children and young people with the opportunity to exercise their right under Article 12(1) of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to express their point of view on a matter that affects them”. Etc. Oh yes?

So under a false cloak of scientific respectability, and under the noble guise of letting children’s views be heard, we have one more lot of biased and unscientific “research” and utterly predictable “findings”. These invariably are tailored to fit a predetermined outcome, the very antithesis of rigorous, objective, respectable scientific investigation.

Barnardoes must indeed be desperate to stoop to this level of dishonest lobbying.

Barbara Faithfull B.A.(Psych.Anthrop.)
[email protected]


  1. Barnardos is not stooping to any dishonest lobbying: Children are their business niche. They work hand in hand with Womens’ Refuge receiving ample and generous funding from the family court.

    Go and find out how much the government pays for a program for children at Barnardos and you will understand their motive. No distraught children manifactured by the Family Court no money no business.

    A program like ‘Foot steps towards safety’ teaches children how their parents are dangerous aliens.

    It is high time the society stopped funding these misery merchant: Barnardos, Women’s Refuge. Wolfs in sheep skin they are and will remain.

    I would like here to mention as well all this fever about the 9 million dollar tag. A referendum as a democratic tool is worth 9 billion for which we are just paying 9 million an insignificant amount compared to the millions wasted on the family court that should have no existence, at least in its current devilish incarnation. Don’t believe the price is really 9 billion? Go and ask
    Iranians or Cubans or Saudis.

    Comment by tren Christchurch — Fri 3rd July 2009 @ 10:53 am

  2. The question in this survey (That Refeferendum is a waste of money) is also badly flawed. I totally support the reinstatement of section 59. I also believe the government should have listened to opinion polls conducted before the parlimentary debate. (Commonly 80% against the passing of the bill)Therefore the refernedom is a waste of money! Surveys are useful, but must be a true cross section with very carefully crafted questions asked in a flat voice indicating no emotion.

    You are also correct Barbara, Opt in surveys are a waste of time. I will show my age going back around 25 years where there was a telethon for battered (As opposed to crumbeded?) women that was based on opt in surveys in the womens weakly!

    Apart from my sarcasm, anybody else remenber this one?

    Comment by Alastair — Fri 3rd July 2009 @ 11:13 am

  3. Surveys are rubbish, I have never been asked to participate in any surveys, and no-one I have asked ever has either.

    Comment by Scott B — Fri 3rd July 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  4. This is quite probably true Scott. Surveys take extreem measures to ensure the content is random, e.g. 50/50 male/female response rate, survey boxes to ensure all socio economic area’s and even ethnic percentages.

    I am speaking for reputable survey companies. Some are not so particular, resulting in a skewed survey.

    A statement like yours is like substituting the word “Lotto” for survey. I guess you buy Lotto tickets? Are they “Rubbish”

    Comment by Alastair — Fri 3rd July 2009 @ 1:21 pm

  5. No I don’t buy lotto tickets, just as I won’t take part in the lottery which is the family court system. I guess no-one I have ever questioned about this has meet the criteria! Besides surveys are flawed, cause if you asked 100 people a question, then another 100 you’d more than likely get two very different results. Hopefully with a referendum most of the country will vote.

    Comment by Scott B — Fri 3rd July 2009 @ 1:38 pm

  6. The **Empire of Injustice** expands itself by false premise daily World-Wide – Most Kiwis are unaware of the Spin Doctoring of Truth in our Media be it News Papers to signs in your local WINZ, CYFS, Family Court etc.

    There is a raging war going on to discredit Barnardos and similar Orgs World-Wide – Submissions were called for NZ to participate – No responce as far as I know – Onward – Jim

    Comment by Jim Bailey — Fri 3rd July 2009 @ 4:07 pm

  7. Stats are what the Government use as a tool to obtain information on their new up and comming revenue collections.
    Ie:Paul Holmes show where he interviews a Top family judge and he used stats in he’s interview,, 87,000 couples seperate or divorce every year, 27,000 of them are couples with children, Wow just look at them STATS, 27,000 more child support cases every year.
    I like to see the STATS on that 27,000 and just how many men in that 27,000 are going to be smashed to bits in the family courts and what ever is left the IRD will finish off.
    Good thing STATS if you are the Government and the IRD.

    Comment by Mark J — Mon 6th July 2009 @ 3:26 pm

  8. Stats are wonderful Mark. Especially when you look through the figures and probe what is not there or mis stated. For example in the Stats you quote, 27,000 how many have children together? I understand children of previous relationships simply follow (Quite possibly unwillingly)their natural parent. What is the CS problem? You assume all are men. This is not necessarily correct. More and more children are going with their fathers.

    As a famous british statesman once said, we have “Lies, Damn lies, and Statistics!”

    It is important to understand Statistics so that you can probe more effectively with your letter writing and questioning. When you publically expose a fallacy you chip away at that persons credibility.

    That technique forced a Fem to change her name! (Source “A city Posessed” by Linley Hood”)

    Comment by Alastair — Mon 6th July 2009 @ 4:11 pm

  9. Alastair,

    That technique as you put it has also driven many of the best away from Paul, Chucks, and Johns news as they have seen thru the GateKeepers like yourself – Onward – jim

    Comment by Jim Bailey — Mon 6th July 2009 @ 4:31 pm

  10. I fail to follow the logic in this proposition. Any argument should be able to be analysed. In this analisys all can learn.

    Could I request a clarification with source reference please!

    Comment by Alastair — Mon 6th July 2009 @ 5:03 pm

  11. Of course to the first sentence – Read and remember to the second – Onward – Jim

    Comment by Jim Bailey — Mon 6th July 2009 @ 5:14 pm

  12. C’mon, let’s play nice. If the best men have left then it is important to keep the new ones, don’t you think?

    Comment by julie — Mon 6th July 2009 @ 5:44 pm

  13. You are correct Julie, I couldn’t resist rising to the bait.

    Personally I have always believed that the best way to deal with Family Violence in MOST (Not All) cases is by a conciliatory approach. An attempt to find the root cause and deal with it.

    Comment by Alastair — Mon 6th July 2009 @ 5:51 pm

  14. We will keep the new ones by being open and honist – Not hiding the issues that have separated us – Onward – Jim

    Comment by Jim Bailey — Mon 6th July 2009 @ 6:00 pm

  15. Jim, with all due respect for the hard work you do for families, can you do this somewhere else. I need this post.

    Barbara puts a lot of effort into her work and I send her links on to the newspaper. We have an important referendum coming up.

    I do understand that you have issues you want to sort out with others but it is going to make this post look bad.

    Comment by julie — Mon 6th July 2009 @ 6:56 pm

  16. Sorry, but this post makes aboslutely no sense whatsoever. Please elaborate, and by elaborate I do not mean “read it again”. Just what are you attempting to say, Jim?

    Comment by Darryl Ward — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 6:37 am

  17. I should just give up on this. I asked Jim to drop the petty ‘you are gatekeepers thingy’ and now you bring it back up.

    Do you by chance have something to say about the post?

    Comment by julie — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 8:26 am

  18. Hi Julie

    I only want to know what Jim meant.

    I ignored the ‘gatekeeper’ comments.

    However, Jim wrote of some “technique” that has driven people away. I did not understand what he was on about and therefore I asked for clarification.

    Kind regards


    Comment by Darryl Ward — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 9:25 am

  19. I understand Darryl.

    Comment by julie — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 12:36 pm

  20. I oouldn’t figure what Jim Bailey meant either, Darryl. Clearly, he felt the need to put a dig in on some tangential pretext, without any concern for the destructive effects of his behaviour on either the discussion or any solidarity that might otherwise build within a group like this. Then when you asked for clarification he showed gross disrespect by providing only a patronizing reply rather than actually attempting to answer your question. Jim Bailey has herein shown very low standards of participation, communication and regard for others. I wonder what he hopes to achieve by this. Can’t he show some of the qualities he claims his religion teaches, such as forgiveness and humility, rather than endlessly pursuing a vendetta about past perceived wrongs?

    Comment by Hans Laven — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 12:44 pm

  21. BTW, nobody has yet guessed the origin of my current associated picture. The competition’s still on!

    Comment by Hans Laven — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 12:48 pm

  22. Do we get a clue?

    Comment by julie — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 2:51 pm

  23. it’s that anti violence cake isn’t it?

    Comment by Scott B — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 3:56 pm

  24. Yes! The winner is Scott B! The picture is of one of the white men on the cake shown hitting a family member. I hope all white men get the message: you are the only ones who commit family violence worth mentioning. You are all clearly incapable of nurturing or protecting your family. This anti-violence campaign is an anti white-male campaign.

    Comment by Hans Laven — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 6:07 pm

  25. Holland?

    Comment by Darryl Ward — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 7:06 pm

  26. No, Kazakhstan. No, wait a minute, it’s Waikikamukau or Eketahuna or something.

    Comment by Hans Laven — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 8:56 pm

  27. I would have recognised Kazakhstan, as most of my family are from there.

    Comment by Darryl Ward — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 8:58 pm

  28. Well done Scoot B. We might just have to put your name down for the show, “Who’s got talent?”

    Comment by julie — Tue 7th July 2009 @ 10:50 pm

  29. After dealing with my ex the family caught for so long I can spot a farce at a hundred paces!

    Comment by Scott B — Wed 8th July 2009 @ 5:13 pm

  30. After dealing with my ex the family caught for so long I can spot a farce at a hundred paces!


    Comment by julie — Wed 8th July 2009 @ 9:18 pm

  31. Do I get a prize? 😉

    Comment by Scott B — Fri 10th July 2009 @ 11:06 am

  32. Yep

    Comment by Hans Laven — Fri 10th July 2009 @ 1:41 pm

  33. lol which would be…?

    Comment by Scott B — Fri 10th July 2009 @ 2:09 pm

  34. hopefully it’s not that cake…. 😉

    Comment by John (Doe ;) — Sat 11th July 2009 @ 12:13 am

  35. Funny!!!! But I wonder if a cake (different one) would be an appropriate prize.

    Comment by julie — Sat 11th July 2009 @ 10:13 am

  36. lol it’s ok I don’t need a prize… but mmmmmmmmmm cake!

    Comment by Scott B — Sat 11th July 2009 @ 10:18 am

  37. Good idea, I’ll organize a cake

    Comment by Hans Laven — Sat 11th July 2009 @ 10:50 am

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