The so-called Globalization Institute reports daft survey

Alex Singleton moved from the Adam Smith Institute to set up The Globalization Institute (which as far as I can tell is just him, with a couple of guest appearances from the irrepressible Tim Worstall). Sweetly, Mr Singleton refers to himself as "we" – The Royal We – presumably to bolster the illusion that he is in charge of an organisation. That’s OK with me. I always thought Walter Mitty was harmless. For the record, I’m also just an opinionated bloke with a laptop. But it does frustrate me that the Globalisation Institute blog does not accept comments (unless I have missed something). Some of what "The Royal We" writes is such tosh that it richly deserves to be thoroughly fisked. The latest posting is an example. We are told that a poll has found that:

The majority of people do not believe the Live 8 concerts and demonstrations at the G8 summit will have any significant effect in tackling poverty in Africa, according to a new poll. In a survey carried out by YouGov/Sky News only 16 per cent of respondents thought the concerts in London and cities round the world would make a significant difference. Only 6pc believe the demonstrations outside the summit at Gleneagles in July, called for by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, will have any real impact on poverty. Instead nearly three-quarters of people believe decisions taken by governments in Africa have the biggest impact on the continent’s economy and standard of living.

Well, doh! I don’t suppose that even St. Geldof thinks that having a rock concert in Hyde Park or a demonstration in Edinburgh is, by itself, going to reduce poverty in Africa (if only it were that simple). The point of the concert and the demonstration is to put pressure on the G8 Heads of Government to make decisions which will enable those governments in Africa to take the decisions which three quarters of those polled believe – rightly – are so important for reducing poverty. If we reduce trade barriers, give debt relief, and give more and better aid, then Governments in Africa can get on with doing just that. And that will only happen if the governments of the rich world believe that it is in their political interests to do so. And that is the point of the concerts and the demonstrations. Perhaps this is too complicated for the Royal We to hoist in?

4 thoughts on “The so-called Globalization Institute reports daft survey”

  1. Hang on. I’ve actually been quite supportive of Live8 whenever I’ve been on television discussing it, saying that it’s good to have people thinking about the issues, even if I think the solutions offered are not always right. But, as the title to the blog said: “Foreign direct investment and better governance are key to African prosperity”.

    As for the Royal We, sorry, but there’s more than just me here: we just don’t all blog. Our experts on Turkey and on Middle East peace are busy putting together projects on their specialist subjects.

  2. The GI posting is quite fair in its quoting of the poll results. And I don’t see why the poll is “daft”. Presumably respondees didn’t feel that the concerts and demonstrations would be effective in influencing governments.

    Well, doh!

    That’s at least the second time you’ve used the “just one person” ad hominem attack, btw.

  3. The GI was not “quite fair” in quoting the poll: it was selectively quoting a particularly daft question which made the point the that the GI wanted to hear. The GI did not quote the YouGov poll in April which found that:
    half of the people interviewed want Britain to meet its commitment to giving 0.7 per cent of national income on aid by 2010
    one in four people say the UK should reach 0.7 by the end of next year.
    eight in ten people think international trade rules should be rewritten to help people in poor countries work their way out of poverty
    Three in four people believe rich nations and financial institutions should cancel the poorest countries’ unpayable debts.
    Eight in ten people believe the parties must do more to tackle global poverty. And one in three people would be more likely to vote for a party committed to tackling global poverty.

  4. To be fair to GI…

    “eight in ten people think international trade rules should be rewritten to help people in poor countries work their way out of poverty”

    They agree.

    “Three in four people believe rich nations and financial institutions should cancel the poorest countries’ unpayable debts.”

    They agree.

    “Eight in ten people believe the parties must do more to tackle global poverty.”

    They agree.

    They are also not anti-aid exactly, they just argue that aid in its current for is bad:

    Your arguments would come across better if you kept off the ad hominems. If GI has only been running a few months, it’s reasonable to assume they will be small. I started a small business recently and I’d be pretty insulted if you started sneering at me for “pretending” to be a business.

    Owen replies:

    1. Where is the GI report about that survey? It doesn’t suit their agenda to report it, so they haven’t. If the traditional media did that, we in the blogosphere would pull them up for selective reporting. Live by the sword, die by …

    2. If you are in the ideas business, it matters if you are genuinely an Institute, reflecting the views of a range of people and working with robust procedures for peer review, independence and integrity; or if you are simply another blogger with an opinion (nothing wrong with that, of course; that is what I am). Whether you intend it or not, the way you present your work affects the weight other people attach to what you write. Alex S is invited to appear on TV more often than I am. Good luck to him – I’ve no problem with that. But if people are under an impression that this organisation is something it isn’t, and hence give more weight to the ideas it expresses than it deserves, then I do have a problem with that. I’m happy to have been corrected by Alex (see above) who says that there is more to the GI than just him. I would like to know a little more about who these people are, and what kind of standards for peer review and intellectual quality control are in place, so that we can make an informed decision about whether the GI deserves to be treated as a more authoritative voice than just the views of one person. And raising this issue is not an ad hominem attack.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *