The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 5/5

January 9, 2012

Now that we know more about the United States and Hawaii, where Sun Yat-sen lived as a teenager, his concept of a republic would have been very different from what the American democracy looks like today.

In addition, members of the U.S. Senate were not elected to office by the popular vote until 1913 when the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was amended to provide for direct popular election of senators, ending the system of election by individual state legislatures.

If Sun Yat-sen were aware of the details of America’s political history and its limitation by the time he left Hawaii at the age of 17 in 1883, the republic and/or democracy he envisioned for China probably would have excluded many from voting—including all women.

In addition, by 1903, when Sun Yat-sen returned to Hawaii looking for support for his dream of a future republic and/or democracy in China, Hawaii was no longer a republic but was a territory of the United States—not a state—and its people were not considered American citizens.

The republic and/or democracy Sun Yat-sen might have imagined for China may possibly have included at last one House as a National Congress with its members appointed by the elected legislatures of each province, and women would have been excluded from voting and possibly considered the property of men as women were in the United States at that time.

In fact, it is possible that Sun Yat-sen would not have considered organizing a republic and/or democracy where the citizens elected China’s leader with a popular vote of the people since Hawaii’s Constitution of 1864 charged the legislature, not the people, with the task of electing the next king, who was King Kalākaua—the one forced to sign the 1887 Constitution four years after the young Sun Yat-sen returned to China.

Now that we know the differences between then and now, it is easier to accept that the Chinese Communist Party’s 1982 Constitution created a government in China closer—and maybe even better—than what Sun Yat-sen might have imagined for China.

How could Sun Yat-sen have envisioned a republic and/or democracy similar to what the United States has today in the 21st century?

In fact, under a Sun Yat-sen republic, children in China might still be considered the property of parents as they were in the United States until the 1938 Federal regulation of child labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Before 1938, parents in the US had the right to sell their children into servitude and/or slavery depending on which state one lived in.

In addition, writing of the merits of a republican or representative form of government, James Madison observed that one of the most important differences between a democracy and a republic is “the delegation of the government [in a republic] to a small number of citizens elected by the rest.

When James Madison wrote this, the number of US citizens allowed to vote in federal elections was limited to white property owners (excluding Jews), which represented about 10% of the population of the US in 1776, which was similar to the voting rights in Hawaii during most of Sun Yat-sen’s life.

Return to The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 4 or start with 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 4/5

January 8, 2012

If you recall from Part 1, Hawaii was not a democracy modeled after today’s United States when Sun Yat-sen lived there from the ages of 13 to 17 [1879 – 1883].

In fact, when Sun Yat-sen lived in Hawaii, it was a kingdom ruled by a king and was a Constitutional Monarchy similar to but not the same as Great Britain at the same time.

It wouldn’t be until 1887, that the Hawaiian King Kalākaua was forced to sign the 1887 Constitution [after Sun Yat-sen had returned to China] of the Kingdom of Hawaii, which stripped him of any authority he had making him into a figurehead.

In addition, there was a property qualification in 1887’s Hawaiian Constitution for voting rights similar to what the Founding Fathers wrote into the US Constitution in 1776, and resident whites, who owned the property since Asians were not allowed to own property or could not afford to buy it, were the only ones allowed to vote.

Meanwhile, the American Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 excluded skilled and unskilled Chinese from entering the United States for ten years under penalty of imprisonment and deportation. In the US at this time, many Chinese were relentlessly beaten just because of their race.

Therefore, when Sun Yat-sen lived in Hawaii as a Chinese teenager, it was not a republic or a democracy and he was a second-class person barred from entering the United States.

The structure of the political system in the United States was also dramatically different from the one America has today.

In 1790, the Constitution explicitly says that only “free white” immigrants could become naturalized citizens.

In 1848, Mexican-Americans were granted U.S. Citizenship but not voting rights.

In 1856, voting rights were expanded to all white men and not just property owners.

In 1868, four years after the end of the American Civil War, former slaves were granted citizenship, however only African-American men were allowed to be citizens and the right to vote was left up to each state.

In 1870, the 15th Amendment was passed saying the right to vote could not be denied by the federal or state governments based on race [this still did not include women], but some states restricted the right to vote based on voting taxes and literacy tests.

In 1876, the US Supreme Court ruled that Native Americans were not citizens and could not vote.

In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act barred people of Chinese ancestry from naturalizing to become U.S. citizens.

In 1920, the right to vote was extended to women when the 19th Amendment passed. Source: U.S. Voting Rights Timeline

What do you think Sun Yat-sen learned from these facts about a democracy?

Continued on January 9, 2012 in The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – 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 IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – Part 3/5

January 7, 2012

Mr. Parfitt is either ignorant or playing on the IGNORANCE Factor to further his cultural and/or confirmation bias, which runs through his book, Why China Will Never Rule the World, as if it were a thick artery of coal in a coalmine.

From everything I have learned of Parfitt’s book from reading many of the reviews on it by people that have read it, I know this much—he’s a talented and powerful writer driven by either a cultural bias and/or possibly a personal vendetta against Chinese culture and China.

Did something personal happen to Parfitt while teaching ESL in Taiwan that caused him to declare war on Confucianism and the Chinese culture?

Troy Parfitt asked, “One of the tenets of Sun’s philosophy was democracy. Has China achieved democracy?”

The answer to Parfitt’s question has nothing to do with the democracy of the United States, as it exists today.

However, it does have everything to do with the politics of Hawaii when Sun Yat-sen lived there for four years of his young life, and of the United States at that time.


Sun Yat-sen attended a Christian British Bishop’s school in Hawaii for four years. His model on a Chinese republic may have been based on the beliefs of America’s Founding Fathers, who despised democracy as mob rule. Since Sun attended a British school, we may assume safely that he also learned about the British parliamentary system where the prime minister is not elected to office but is the leader of the majority party and there is no term limit. In fact, there was no term limit for the president of the U.S. until 1947, long after Sun’s death.

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According to Sun Yat-Sen Hawaii Foundation, he arrived in Hawaii in 1879 at the age of thirteen. He then spent four of his teenage years being educated in Hawaii. China’s first revolutionary society, the Xing Zhong Hui (Revive China Society) was organized in Hawaii in 1894 more than a decade after Sun left.

Sun Yat-sen would later be involved in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and a failed attempt to establish a republic in China. He never achieved his goals during his lifetime.

Whatever Sun Yat-sen’s vision of a republic might look like was formed during the four years he lived in Hawaii as a teen.  The Sun Yat-sen Timeline shows that he returned to China in 1883.

To discover what Sun Yat-sen may have believed means learning about the political structure of Hawaii and the United States between 1879 and 1883.

Continued on January 8, 2012 in The IGNORANCE Factor of Bias – 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 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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On the trail of Dr Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – Part 5/5

December 19, 2011

As you have discovered, while many in the West praised Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao as an accurate portrait of a manipulative egomaniac with little tolerance of dissent and a penchant for young women, the book was also criticized in China by those closest to Mao and by both eastern and western scholars of China.

In addition, many in the West have rejected or ignored what Dr. Li wrote about Mao and the famine during the Great Leap Forward.

According to some of the people that knew Mao best, most notably Dr. Li Zhisui, Mao was not aware that the situation amounted to more than a slight shortage of food.

Li wrote, “But I do not think that when he spoke on July 2, 1959, he knew how bad the disaster had become, and he believed the party was doing everything it could to manage the situation” Source: Answers.com

While many in the West believe most of what Li wrote of Mao in his memoir, those same people do not accept what Li says about the famine because to do so would be to admit Mao wasn’t the butcher of 20, 30, or 40 million people due to famine and starvation during the Great Leap Forward.

This is known as “cherry picking”, which is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position [opinion], while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.

This is also called “confirmation bias“, which refers to a form of selective thinking that focuses on evidence that supports what believers already believe while ignoring evidence that refutes their beliefs. Confirmation bias plays a stronger role when people base their beliefs upon faith, tradition and prejudice.

An example of this comes from Hong Kong-based historian Frank Dikotter’s book on the great famine where he claims that Mao was responsible for the famine and did nothing to save lives.

The point I want to make is if the West accepts the revised and sensationalized English version of Li’s memoir of Mao as accurate, how can anyone dispute what Li said about Mao not knowing the extent of the Great Leap Forward famine?  By 1959, Dr. Li had been Mao’s physician for almost three years and according to author Troy Parfitt was with him daily and knew intimate details of Mao’s life.

On the other hand, if we accept that Dr. Li’s memory was wrong about Mao and the famine in 1959, how many other claims in his memoir of Mao are inaccurate?

In fact, it was mentioned in Mao’s Alleged Guilt in the Land of Famines that Dikotter sensationalized his book [as Random House did to Dr. Li’s memoir of Mao] by increasing [inflating] the mortality numbers by 50% to allow for possible under-reporting and came up with a claim that 45 million died of starvation during the GLF famine when in fact, the numbers may have been much lower.

Is it possible that Mao’s image in the West has been unwittingly engineered by the media to be worse than it should be?

We know that memory is imperfect. Gore Vidal said, “A memoir is how one remembers one’s own life, while an autobiography is history, requiring research, dates, facts double-checked.” — from Palimpsest by Gore Vidal (Penguin, 1996).

In fact, “Memoir writers must manufacture a text, imposing narrative order on a jumble of half-remembered events.” — William Zinsser, “Introduction.” Inventing the Truth: The Art and Craft of Memoir. Mariner, 1998

However, in the case of China and/or Mao, many in the West do not trust what the Chinese claim unless told what they want to hear. Everything else is to be considered a lie.

Return to On the trail of Dr Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – Part 4 or start with 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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On the trail of Dr Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – Part 4/5

December 18, 2011

Troy Parfitt says, “To say Dr. Li Zhishui was bright, not to mention perceptive and articulate, would be an understatement. I would say he was exceptionally intelligent, and probably a gifted physician…  His book is mesmerizing, deftly penned, overflowing with interesting tidbits…”

However, Li cannot be credited with the “deftly penned” English edition of the memoir since the original manuscript written by Li was translated from his native Chinese into English by Professor Tai Hung-chao, before being edited by Thurston (whom Dr. Li later accused of cutting substantial parts of his original manuscript without his knowledge).

I was also told by a friend that read the Chinese language edition of the memoir that it reads as if it were an accountant’s ledger.

In addition, Professor Tai later said the English-language publisher, Random House, wanted more sensationalist elements to the book than that which Li had provided them, in particular requesting more information about Mao’s sexual relationships.

Despite Li’s own protestations, Professor Tai said the publisher overruled him, and put such sexual claims in the published text anyway.

Then there is the Open Letter published in April 1995, a statement protesting that many of the claims made in Li’s book were false and 150 people who had personally known or worked with Mao signed the letter.

Next there is Professor Frederick Teiwes, a western academic specializing in the study of Maoist China, who was also critical of Li’s memoir of Mao, arguing in his book “The Tragedy of Lin Biao: Riding the Tiger during the Cultural Revolution 1966-1971” (1996) that despite Li’s extensive claims regarding the politics behind the Cultural Revolution, he was actually “on the fringe” of the events taking place in the Chinese government.

Continued on December 18, 2011 in  On the trail of Dr. Li Zhisui’s illusive Memories – 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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