The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 2/5

January 6, 2012

Another question Parfitt asked in in his comment to Comparing India and China’s Potential for Economic Growth was, What about China’s debt problem? Would that hinder it [China] in its supposed race against India?”

I doubt strongly that there is an economic race between India and China. If it is perceived that one exists, we may thank the Western media circus for that, since the media often compares the annual growth of India’s GDP with China’s.

The answer to Parfitt’s question leads to another question that should have been asked instead.

Will India’s corruption [50% of GDP], poverty [25%], literacy rate [61%] and debt problems hinder it in its supposed economic race with China? Source of facts used: CIA Factbook

By comparison, literacy in China is 92.2% and those living below the poverty line according to the CIA Factbook represent 2.8% of the population.

India’s GDP [Purchasing Power Parity – PPP], according to the CIA Factbook, was about $4 trillion dollars in 2010 but its public debt was 50.6% of GDP. It’s reserves of foreign exchange and gold was $287.1 billion [this is the same as a savings account], and its external debt was $316.9 billion, which shows us that India owes more money than it has in its savings account. In addition, it has been reported that corruption in India is worse than China.

By comparison, China’s GDP [PPP] in 2010 was more than $10 trillion and its public debt was 16.3% of GDP, its savings account held almost $3 trillion and its external debt was $519 billion.

Another point of comparison is the US GDP [PPP], which was $14.66 trillion with $14.71 trillion in external debt and a public debt of 62.9%, while its savings account holds $132.4 billion.

With these numbers, which country is in the best shape economically to face challenges at home and globally in the near future and in the long run?

I replied to Mr. Parfitt’s comments and there was another reply from Alessandro, a regular visitor to this Blog. The reason I’m writing this post is the IGNORANCE Factor, which plays far too large a role in the circus of American politics and public opinion, which is often inflamed by the biased opinions of individuals such as Mr. Parfitt.

Continued on January 7, 2012 in The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 1/5

January 5, 2012

On December 30, 2011, Troy Parfitt, whom I debated in this Blog, left a comment to another post I wrote, Comparing India and China’s Potential for Economic Growth.

In our debate, one of Parfitt’s tactics was to often throw out short claims/opinions as if they were bullets from a machine gun while cherry picking the facts [also known as confirmation bias, my-side bias and verification bias] used to support his opinions, which he treated as facts.

If you doubt my claim, read the entire debate and see if even once Parfitt admitted his beliefs were nothing but his personal opinions subject to bias.  And mark my words, all opinions are subject to bias unless supported by a vast majority of facts that are not cherry picked.

Cherry picking is the act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.

Confirmation bias is a tendency of people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true. These biases appear in particular for emotionally significant issues and for established beliefs.

For this sort of bias to succeed in winning over others, it often depends on the ignorance of the people.

Mr. Parfitt said in his comment,  “So, if China is a republic, and Sun Yat-sen wanted a republic based on the American model, has SYS’s dream been realized in China? One of the tenets of Sun’s philosophy was democracy. Has China achieved democracy?”

My answer to this question is easy but the longer explanation to counter Parfitt’s misleading confirmation bias will appear later in this series of posts.

The short answer is YES, what Sun Yat-sen may have envisioned as a republic for China may have been achieved more by today’s Chinese Communist Party [CCP] than Taiwan.

In fact, we will never really know exactly what Sun Yat-sen wanted as a Republic in China, since he died in 1925 before he achieved his dream of unifying China.

However, we can gain a better idea of what his vision may have been by discovering what it was like in Hawaii and America at the time Sun Yat-sen lived in Hawaii before it was a territory of the US.

Readers may find it interesting that Hawaii was a Republic [1894 -1898] before it became a territory of the United States [1898 – 1959], and before it became a state in 1959.

In fact, a commission during the administration of President Grover Cleveland [1885–1889 and 1893–1897] concluded that the removal of Queen Lili’uokalani was illegal, and the U.S. government demanded that she be re-instated.

Then in 1993, a joint Apology Resolution regarding the overthrow of Hawaii’s Queen was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton, apologizing for the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Continued on January 6, 2012 in The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The China-India Comparison with Lots of Facts – Part 1/5

December 31, 2011

This post was originally a result of a comment on the China Law Blog, which chastised me because, “He wanted me to provide a super-quick summary of The Economist cover story comparing India with China, but it (I) did not,” which was correct then.

Returning to this subject is because of my twelve-part debate with Troy Parfitt. Mr. Parfitt claimed, “Corruption in India isn’t germane to the debate.” In fact, most if not all of the facts and comparisons used during the debate were not relevant according to Mr. Parfitt unless those facts supported his opinions of China.

At one point, Mr. Parfitt mentioned reviews of his book in Publisher’s Weekly in defense of his book not being racisit. He claimed the South China Morning Post didn’t say that. Neither did Publishers Weekly, the Korean Herald, The Vancouver Sun… and none of the Amazon reviewers [that may change].

However, Publisher’s Weekly [PW] did say this of his book, “The result is mostly travelogue told from an outsider’s perspective, contextualized with overviews of major events in Chinese history. Parfitt argues that China will not rule the world, because as a nation it is more interested in the appearance of success than actual substance. He suggests that culturally, China has little to offer…” In addition, PW says, “his book lacks the precise facts and figures that he decries in other books promoting Chinese dominance.”

Basically, this is what the China Law Blog complained of in my post, Comparing India and China’s Economic Engines.

The facts and figures missing from Mr. Parfitt’s “Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas” are important as the China Law Blog says. To judge one country without comparing its government, economy and culture to other countries offers no balance for readers to make informed decisions.

Continued on January 1, 2012 in he China-India Comparison with Lots of Facts – Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This revised and edited post first appeared on October 22, 2010 as India Falling Short


The two faces of Confucius – Part 5/5

December 24, 2011

Troy Parfitt, the author of Why China Will Never Rule the World – Travels in the Two Chinas says the Analects of Confucius represents only stone-age logic and dictums posing as wisdom that support tyranny. He says the Confucian concept of piety is virtually identical in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Macau.

However, Mr. Parfitt does not mention that Confucian philosophy is also practiced in democratic republics such as South Korea, Japan and the Philippians. In fact, people in all of East Asia practice different aspects of Confucian philosophy.

A hallmark of Confucius’ thought is his emphasis on education and study. He disparaged those who have faith in natural understanding or intuition and argued that the only real understanding of a subject comes from long and careful study.

Thus, under Confucianism, teachers and scholars were regarded, like oldest males and fathers, as unquestioned authorities [unless they lose the trust of the people by not doing their job].

In fact, the philosophy of Confucianism is not blind obedience. It is earned obedience. In addition, due to the value placed on eduction and merit, those in positions of power usually earned his or her position through hard work and merit and not popularity as in most liberal democracies.


Religion and Spirituality in Singapore

The face of Confucianism that pertains to tyranny is the political propaganda that governments in East Asia have used for centuries in futile attempts to convince the people to blindly obey.  The only countries this has worked well in so far are Japan and North Korea.

Yet, Japan, with its Confucian dictums that puts loyalty before filial piety became a parliamentary republic and one of its most innovative corporations, Toyota, is the number one global auto manufacturer with GM running second place. If we were to accept Parfitt’s opinion that Confucianism supports tyranny and not innovation, there is no way that Toyota could have been as successful as it has been.

If anyone doubts the power of Confucian loyalty and obedience in Japan, this is what Rutgers University has to say on the subject, “In modern Japanese society one is loyal to one’s immediate group, the “company”, the family, etc., just as previously the emperor, the shogun, or other lords commanded total obedience.”

What Parfitt doesn’t seem to understand is that in the family and in the village, Confucian social philosophy largely revolves around the concept ofren, “compassion” or “loving others” and not on blind obedience to the government.

Subjecting oneself to ritual does not, however, mean suppressing one’s desires but instead learning how to reconcile one’s own desires with the needs of one’s family and community.

If the political face of Confucianism was successful and crippled innovation as Mr. Parfitt preached in our debate, then China would have never invented silk, paper, the printing press, gunpowder, multi-stage rockets, the compass and so much more—centuries before these innovations reached the West.

Instead, the face of Confucianism with the most influence comes through the family—not the government—and in the family, the people learn the meaning behind the Mandate of Heaven and the value of a merit based education.

Return to The two-faces of Confucius – Part 4 or start with Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you
love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The two faces of Confucius – Part 4/5

December 23, 2011

When comparing the practice of Confucianism in China to Japan, a report by Wai-ming Ng at the Chinese University in Hong Kong says, “The relationship between loyalty and filial piety, two fundamental virtues in Confucianism, has been a subject of concern among Confucian scholars in East Asia for many centuries.

“Many modern Japanese scholars believe that the main difference between Japanese Confucianism and Chinese Confucianism rests with their preference between loyalty and filial piety, suggesting that Japanese Confucianism puts  loyalty [to the government] before filial piety, whereas Chinese Confucianism prefers filial piety [in the family] to loyalty [of the government].”

That difference may be explained by China’s concept of the Mandate of Heaven, which says that heaven would bless the authority of a just ruler, as defined by the Five Confucian Relationships, but would be displeased with a despotic ruler and would withdraw its mandate, leading to the overthrow of that ruler. The Chinese people, of course, would be heaven’s hammer, which does not sound very obedient.

However, in Japan, the Mandate of Heaven is not practiced the same as in China. While the Chinese may protest and rebel, the Japanese tend to shy away from this behavior.

In The Coming China, Joseph King Goodrich says, “Obedience in China is a word that connotates far more than it does in Japan. It means obedience to the emperor, to the parent, to the family and to the government, although the Japanese have the reputation of being singularly marked with this trait.”


Confucianism = ritual, etiquette and being kind to one another

In China, the difference lies in the mandate to rule, which means that leaders do not tax the people unjustly. They make sure people have sufficient food and live in an orderly and peaceful society.

Confucian political philosophy is also rooted in the belief that a ruler should learn self-discipline, should govern his subjects by his own example, and should treat them with love and concern.

By providing these things, Confucius believed leaders would earn the confidence, trust and obedience of the people. By not providing these things, China’s leaders would lose the trust and obedience of the people.

One element of Confucianism that runs strong throughout East Asia is that Confucianism regards government and education as inseparable. Without a good education, it is considered impossible to find leaders who possess the virtues to run a government.

Confucius asked, “What has one who is not able to govern himself, to do with governing others?”

Continued on December 18, 2011 in The two-faces of Confucius – Part 5 or return to Part 3

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The two faces of Confucius – Part 3/5

December 22, 2011

Confucianism is not an organized religion as Christianity, Buddhism and Islam are.

Instead, Confucianism is a philosophy for how to live life, and it is taught and/or learned in the home and family as one grows up and parents and family are the role models.

One face of Confucianism is the influence of the family on children, which may explain why China’s civilization and culture has survived for so long without a total meltdown such as what happened in Europe after the Western Roman Empire collapsed in 476 AD plunging Europe into the Dark Ages for a thousand years.

The other face of Confucianism is the political side where Dynasties and Emperors promoted obedience to the state in a futile attempt to control the behavior of the people.  An incomplete list of about twenty rebellions and civil wars in China, with the first being in 209 BC, demonstrates how this face of Confucianism seldom works.

In addition, although Confucius may never have intended for this to happen, over the millennia, his philosophy of life traveled throughout East Asia and influenced countries such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam.

For centuries, the notion of harmony, closely identified with Confucianism, has resonated in other Asian traditions and societies and continues to do so today. Both Japan and Korea were deeply influenced by China and have long accorded great value to the concept.

In fact, the influence of Confucius was felt as far away as the Philippines.

The earliest date suggested for direct Chinese contact with the Philippines was 982 AD, while the West’s Ferdinand Magellan did not arrive until 1521, so China had contact with the Philippines more than five centuries before Europeans arrived.


Who is Confucius and what does Confucianism really mean. About one billion people follow the philosophy of Confucianism.

Asia Times says, “The teachings of Confucius run like a red thread through the political history of East Asia. Numerous leaderships in the region’s history used the sage to legitimize their own grip on a fragmented kingdom.”

For Japan, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says, “The importance of Confucianism in Japanese history is undeniable…”

In fact, during World War II, the Japanese attempted using Confucian values to gain the obedience of the Chinese people but due to a lack of understanding of how the Chinese practiced Confucianism, the Japanese failed to win the people’s trust and obedience.

In addition, in his fight against the communists during China’s Civil War, Chiang Kai-shek described himself as Confucius’ true heir, and it was Chiang that made the study of Confucius mandatory for high school students.

In the home, the other face of Confucianism shows itself and children are taught to respect parents, elders and teachers and emphasizes the importance of working hard to earn an education.

One element of Confucianism the Chinese people have not forgotten is the right to protest and rebel against an unjust and corrupt government.

Continued on December 17, 2011 in The two-faces of Confucius – Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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The two-faces of Confucius – Part 2/5

December 21, 2011

Before we look at the two-faces of Confucius, let us learn something from a New York Times Opinion piece by Eric X. Li, Counterpoint: Debunking Myths About China

Li says there is a common myth that because China does not hold elections that its rulers do not have the consent of the ruled.

However, “According to the Pew Research Center” Li says, “the Chinese government enjoys popular support that is among the highest in the world.The Chinese people’s satisfaction with the direction of their country was at 87% in 2010 and has been consistently above 80 percent in recent years.”

Compare the popularity of China’s government to that of the US government and its people, and we discover that, “Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress receive highly negative job ratings. Just 23% approve of the job Republican congressional leaders are doing, while 67% disapprove. Ratings for Democratic leaders are not much better: 30% approve while 61% disapprove…” Source: Pew Research Center


Common Misconceptions  About China

Li also debunked the myth that China is an authoritarian state in which the party’s political power is concentrated and self-perpetuating.

He then tackled the myth that China’s restriction on freedom of expression stifles innovation. Li says, “Some of the most successful IPO’s of Internet companies on the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq have been Chinese startups…” and “China’s share of scientific research papers published in recognized international journals went from 4.4 percent in the period between 1999-2003 to 10.2 percent in the period between 2004-2008, now just behind the United States.”

In addition, when it comes to claims that the Communist Party’s authoritarian rule leads to widespread corruption, “By Transparency International’s account [the lower the number the less corruption there is], China (78) ranks higher than India (87), Philippines (134), Indonesia (110), Argentina (105) and many more, and tied with Greece (78), barely below Italy (67) — all electoral democracies.

Apparently, China’s one-party system is less corrupt than many democratic countries.

In conclusion before moving on to the two-faces of Confucius in the next post, David Gosset in Common Misconceptions About the Chinese World says, “The level of individual freedom enjoyed today by its citizens has no equivalent in China’s past, and the effort to establish the rule of law will bring more social, economic and political improvements.”

Continued on December 15, 2011 in The two-faces of Confucius – Part 3 or return to Part 1

______________

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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