Rumors, lots of rumors abound, coups, self-coups (what for, he got us man?) sensible solutions coming, unreasonable ones being ratified, the OAS is pulling out, Carter is coming, Carrasquero is being blackmailed, the Supreme Court will intervene, the Amigos are pissed, Gaviria is not coming, Sumate leaders to be jailed, Cuba wants to get rid of Chavez, this was all planned in Cuba, and I am worrying about statistical significance…
You see, even if I am statistically insignificant, I can’t help but worry about the misuses and uses of statistics. You would think that a trained psychiatrist in a country with tropical diseases would have some idea about statistics. After all, he was trained as a medical doctor and I imagine they have a subject called epidemiology to help him understand the difference between one, one hundred and one thousand cases of an illness, as to being something to worry about or not.
I am, of course, talking about our esteemed CNE Director Jorge Rodriguez. That man who is full of compassion, who is fair, who is honest and impartial, according to the Government and who is a @#*/?^er according to the opposition. Just when I thought I would learn about that higher logic used in the decision by the CNE, he comes and says, just like that:
“It is clear in the regulations that the data of the citizen had by the citizen himself”
Being a nit picking wit since a long time ago, rather than go to the regulations I appeal to Merriam Webster online, where I find that the word clear means bright, luminous, clean, pure, plain, unmistakable, sure, innocent, unqualified, absolute and bare (my favorite). Then, I go to that wonderful work of German precision and engineering and pride of judicial creativity of the Vth. Republic , called in short “Regulations for recall referenda processes of the mandate of positions by popular elections”.
I search, but obviously after sleeping badly last night concerned about the future, I miss that particular article out of the 65 that would illuminate, cleanse and purify my mind with the truth. I go back to no avail. I then use the search feature in my browser and look for signature (“firma” in Spanish), there are many, but the only apparent relevant ones are Art. 22, 2. which says:
Art. 22. The form which constitutes the request to convoque a recall referendum should contain:
Name, Last name, position of the public official whose mandate is pretended to be revoked, as well as an indication of the effective date in which he was inaugurated.
Name, Last name, national ID number, birthdate, name of the electoral circuit, manuscript original signature and fingerprint of the electors that request that the recall referendum be convoked, in legible form.
Later it says in Art.29:
Art. 29. The signatures or requests will not be considered faithful and in consequence will be considered invalid, in any of the following assumptions:
If there is incongruence between the name, last name, birthdate and national ID number of the person signing.
If the person is not registered in the electoral circuit corresponding to the referendum that is being convoked.
If the signature is not manuscript.
If the signature is a product of a photocopy or nay other media of reproduction.
If it is determine that more than one signature comes from the same person
By now, reading all this legalese I realize I have become stupid or something, as I find no clear, bright or even naked mention to what our illustrious Dr. Rodriguez says. What I did find was two mentions to manuscript signatures and NONE to the rest that he so clearly sees. I imagine Paris Hilton must also be totally different through Dr. Rodriguez’s eyes. As usual, when I am tired or pissed, I digress.
Despite my poor reading Dr. Rodriguez continues:
In article 29, #5, where it is established that for a signature to be faithful the same person could not take the data or different signatures, but that each person had to provide his/her name, last name, ID number, birthdate, signature and fingerprint….that there was an instruction bulletin for observers (show me a copy!) that said that each person fills the corresponding data and that the CNE published ads that said that it was “very important” that the data be filled by the person signing. (Would love him to show us one, however, the regulations are above the ads or the instruction bulletins, that is why they are published in the official gazette).
By now, I give up, but continue reading Dr. Rodriguez eloquent explanation of his brilliant rationale. About the OAS suggestion of analyzing a random sample of the forms he said
“I have no problem; however, I consider it to be statistically unacceptable”
It is at this point that that light bulb goes on in my brain. Of course! That is the key! Statistical significance is where it’s at! Brilliant Dr. Rodriguez, absolutely brilliant! Something that was unclear to 40% of the people signing for the opposition was clear to him, something that was also unclear to at least 50% of those signing the pro-Chavez petition was very clear to him. Since the error goes as 1/root (sample size), and the sample size was in the one million size, it is statistically insignificant to have so many people think differently than him. No matter how many signatures we sample, the result will come out different that he wants, and that is what he calls statistical significance: If Dr. Rodriguez agrees with it, it is statistically significant, if not, simply forget it!
That is why I feel so insignificant tonight, statistically and otherwise!