21 August 2006

The Straits Times Thinks You're Stupid

The amount of intellectual dishonesty is staggering. Today the Review section (this being the ST's section for serious, "intelligent" articles) has an article about the importance of Singapore supporting its talented individuals. I fully agree with that sentiment - I just don't like the ST seems to feel compelled to twist facts to support its opinion. Take a look:
ST Aug 21, 2006
Making room for genius

TALENTED young Singapore musicians are getting a break. Two recent pieces of news were especially heartening in this respect. Last week, this newspaper reported that the new freshman class at the National University of Singapore's music conservatory includes three Singapore teenagers who have not even sat for the 'O' level exams, let alone the 'A' levels. Together with four youngsters from abroad, that makes seven early admissions this year - compared with a previous total of one. And earlier, word emerged that the Defence Ministry had finally given 17-year-old Ike See a deferment on his national service obligations, allowing him to immediately pursue music studies in the United States. Both cases are a victory for the extraordinarily talented ...

... more often than not, it is in rich nations that such a gift finds sufficient outlet to become noticeable. Clearly, this is happening in Singapore. If the past year alone is anything to go by, more evidence will emerge. Thus, society and its institutions must find even more ways to deal with this welcome development.
About Ike See - the article strives to create the impression that the Defence Ministry recognised his extraordinary musical talent and so decided to "make room for genius" by granting the NS deferment. Thus the Defence Ministry is supposedly one of those enlightened "institutions" of our society finding ways to deal with the "welcome development" of geniuses in our midst.

Of course, this is quite untrue. Although Ike See got his NS deferment, his musical talent in fact received no recognition and carried no weight or significance whatsoever in the Defence Ministry's decision to grant that deferment. For reasons I've previously explained, the Defence Ministry would have just as readily granted him a deferment to study Accountancy or Tourism Studies at Singapore Polytechnic. To understand the real background, click here - More Bureaucractic Nonsense.

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10 comments:

John Riemann Soong said...

The need intellectual progress is not in making room for geniuses, but in advancing the whole population forward.

Only eliminating streaming will resolve this.

Anonymous said...

other than making the pt dat mindef typifies the oxymoron "military intelligence", i just want to ask in regards to the ST article...wat kind primary skool standard of writing is that?

John Riemann Soong said...

The troublesome paragraph is this:

"... more often than not, it is in rich nations that such a gift finds sufficient outlet to become noticeable. Clearly, this is happening in Singapore. If the past year alone is anything to go by, more evidence will emerge. Thus, society and its institutions must find even more ways to deal with this welcome development."

"sufficient outlet" is possibly grammatically acceptable if you treat "outlet" as an abstract concept, but that's really pushing it.

"Clearly" => tired rhetorical interjection

"anything to go by, more evidence will emerge" - vague, evidence of what? How does it show that Singapore is one of the rich nations? Why do we need this sudden justification?

"must find more ways to deal with this welcome development" - The use of the strong verb "must" and the adjective "welcome" just doesn't grep. Bad logic and connector for "thus".

The writer is clearly intentionally obfuscating his language (and doing poorly at maintaining logic) .... clearly avoiding the advice of Orwell.

A translation if you will into what the article is trying to put across:

"Only gifted people will be recognised in rich nations. Singapore is one of those nations. Maybe you don't think that Singapore is one of these nations, but you wait and see lah, We'll eventually prove ourselves to you, so don't you go worry about emigration. Don't take our gifted people for granted okay! You must accept them, accept streaming, accept the GEP! Otherwise you spoil our stable society!"

Funny, it seems so different in register from the opening. At least my translation into Singlish the article makes more sense. Ironically, in Singlish, the article is really more English than the author's language.

Alvin said...

The Singlish translation does make more sense!

thor666 said...

And PM Lee said to be concerned about the internet, which can be extreme and have untruths. And then you come across a national paper which is also extreme and with untruths.

Yay.

thor666 said...

And PM Lee said to be concerned about the internet, which can be extreme and have untruths. And then you come across a national paper which is also extreme and with untruths.

Yay.

John Riemann Soong said...

I should clarify: the "more often than not..." paragraph seems to be of a different register (that of a lower strata) than the opening of the article that starts with "talented young Singapore...".

Naturally a Singlish translation is of a different register.

simplesandra said...

john riemann soong wrote: "Only gifted people will be recognised in rich nations"

I thought it was "only gifted people from rich families will be recognised in rich nations? :)

When you look at the list of "young talents" (esp in the arts) being brought up by the press, it's surprising how so few (if any) of them are from neighbhourhood schools and humble families.

I guess there are always those with "talent", and those who will only have "potential", however huge. :)

Anonymous said...

wow gee thanks! is that elitism i see? tourism studies in singapore polytechnic?

Mr Wang Says So said...

No. I used Tourism & Accountancy as examples of areas for which Ike See is not known to have any extraordinary talent (unlike music).