The mystery of why otherwise intelligent people support Leni Robredo

Why do smart people support vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo and proclaim her as “my VP”? Indeed, it is a mystery. Robredo’s only value-proposition to the Filipino voter is her being a widow and being an overall nice woman. Other than that, there seems to be no other basis to substantiate any conclusion that she would make a better VP than the other candidates. In short, the choice of Robredo as “my VP” is a purely emotional choice. There is no science behind it.

This makes the whole “Data Science” War surrounding the mounting evidence of electoral fraud surrounding this year’s election a bit ironic. A while back, University of the Philippines statistician David Yap and a certain Benjamin Vallejo independently stumbled upon a disturbing pattern in the way election results were reported by the media. The details of those findings are set out in my article, 1.37 million ‘registered voters’ discrepancy observed in Unofficial Results reporting operations!

More whistleblowers were emboldened by these acts of courage and a resulting torrent of evidence of electoral fraud that cast ever darkening shadows of doubt on the integrity of this year’s and previous years’ elections have come to light. Foremost of these is revelations surrounding the unauthorised tampering of election equipment by Marlon Garcia of Smartmatic (supplier of election voting, transmission, and counting systems) in the midst of the count, which dealt a fatal blow to the credibility of the COMELEC.

Since then, one or the other two-bit “data scientist” and academician has emerged from the woodwork in the Liberal Party camp of Robredo initiating quaint attempts to quash any further inquiry into the soundness of the elections and the way the Philippines’ Commission on Elections have managed. The irony in how these “data scientists” are going about suppressing calls to investigate electoral fraud is in how they now presume to employ “science” to their arguments.

The trouble with these “data scientists” is that they lack the credibility to back their position.

A recent example is the debacle surrounding a statement issued by 100-plus self-styled “data scientists” and “academicians” that was published on the Facebook page of a certain Reinabelle Reyes (refer here for details). Reyes is a self-avowed Leni Robredo supporter who also happens to be an “astrophysicist”. On her Facebook page is an image (at the time of this writing publicly-accessible) of her posed beside a graphic proclaiming “Leni is my VP” (shown below).


Recently too, De La Salle University (DLSU) professor Antonio Contreras (who joined Yap in the push to attract more awareness to electoral fraud) had decided to sue University of the Philippines physics professor Ian Vega for libel following the appearance of slanderous statements against him posted by Vega on Facebook. Like Reyes, Vega is an avowed Robredo supporter and anti-Marcos activist.

This leaves us with a chicken-and-egg question surrounding what is really a blatantly anti-science stand being taken by these two eminent physicists from the Ateneo and UP:

Which came first, the “data science” surrounding their dismissal of fraud allegations, or their Robredo support?

In contrast, Yap, Contreras, and even Anonymous Philippines (who are conducting their own investigations) have categorically stated that their efforts are not motivated by partisan positions. For them the effort is in the spirit of true transparency and scientific inquiry. More interesting, in fact, is how many others have come forward, stated up-front how they are not supporters of Robredo rival Bongbong Marcos, but fully support efforts to reveal the truth about electoral fraud in this year’s elections and those in the past (specifically those in which Smartmatic have been involved in). The mystery deepens. Apparently, academic intelligence does not seem to be a strong contributing factor to the soundness of one’s political choices and positions. Worse, in the wrong combination, such as in the case of these “100+ data scientists and academicians”, a lot of damage to society could be wrought — in terms of irresponsible behaviour fuelled by a beholdenness to one’s own perceived academic superiority.

My theory is that the higher up you go in society, and the further into the circle of “polite” society you immerse yourself in, the less you talk about politics. Thus in the spirit of keeping things “polite”, some of us actually do ourselves and our immediate circles a whole heap of disservice by avoiding real conversations — often ones that necessarily involve impolite talk.

This is a plausible explanation to the mystery of why chi-chi Atenistas and a whole bevy of high-horsed “data scientists” and “astrophysicists” support Leni Robredo. Robredo is the polite choice. For that matter, the Liberal Party, as they’ve in the last couple of years branded themselves around the now-discredited Yellow political persona that characterised the last 30 years, is regarded as the only polite political choice. As such, it is the easy choice for those who are too lazy to think. And, as is evident now, academic intelligence does not make one immune to the strong temptation to succumb to lazy thinking.