Countering statistics, Turkish pro-government newspaper responds with anti-semitism and conspiracies

Last week my work on irregularities in Turkish elections (see here, here, and here) appeared in the pro-government newspaper Takvim (here). In contrast to previous mentions in the Turkish media, this article does not focus as much on the analysis as on the context.

You see, it would appear that all my work is part of a big plan led by the “banker lobby”, a rather shady group including such celebrities as the “Jewish Baron” Murdoch (“İngiltere’nin Yahudi medya Baronu Murdoch”) and the Wallenbergs, one of the more influential business families in Sweden. The author, Bekir Hazar, especially notes the decision of Knut Agathon Wallenberg to donate money for founding the Stockholm School of Economics in 1903, where I work today.

So it’s not that Turkey’s most recent elections may have featured unprecedented levels of vote rigging in major cities like Ankara and Istanbul. No, instead, there are bankers who wish to destabilize New Turkey using any instrument they can get their hands on, which I guess in this case would be me.

If this sounds outlandish, paranoid, or just batshit crazy in any way, that is because it is. But it is nonetheless the daily routine for those journalists working for the pro-government newspapers, with many (including Takvim) owned by Calık Holding, a holding company controlled by Prime Minister Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak.

The use of anti-semitism and conspiracies is one of the pro-government media’s main instruments to counter domestic disturbances, like the Gezi protests or the more recent corruption leaks. In November last year, Takvim’s editor wrote an article stating “Those working for Jewish bosses, using the Turkish state for their own interests will get hurt!” A couple of days ago, a tweet by the same editor painted Twitter (recently blocked, then unblocked after a decision by the Constitutional Court) as run by Jews. Given Erdogan’s heavy hand in the Turkish media, it is noteworthy that this kind of hate speech is allowed to go on.

As uncomfortable as it is to appear in an article full of hate speech and ant-semitism, this is but a drop in the ocean of what happens to Turkish citizens who dare to report on any irregularity in Turkey, which for several years running has been the world’s largest jailer of journalists.

But it is also revealing that Takvim attempts to counter my work in the first place, and without any real factual response, a likely sign that the broad allegations of irregularities in the elections of Ankara is taking its toll.

Given Takvim’s nack for science fiction, I am sure they are familiar with H. G. Wells who is attributed with the following quote:

Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.

We will know this to have succeeded in Turkey when Takvim replaces gibberish with confidence intervals. Until then, if they want to investigate the genealogy of statistics, be my guest. I’m sure they’ll find a Jewish grandmother in there somewhere.

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