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Monday, April 5, 2010

Centre for Monitoring Election Violence?

I have a problem with this Centre for Monitoring Election Violence. More precisely, with the name they've chosen to adopt. Read it a second time: Centre for Monitoring Election Violence. It suggests that election violence does happen and they attempt to 'monitor' it. Now I'm not being naive (read foolish also) to suggest that there is no election violence, but when supposedly a neutral organization such as this has a name of this sort, it is questionable. At least for me. Because it is accepted in science that when an experiment is conducted it is necessary for the experimenter to not expect a certain result. It is commonly agreed upon that if the researcher expects a certain result then the actual results tend to go that way - such is the human nature. That is why that when it comes to large scale important researches often the designer of the experiment differs from the one that carries it out and then a third party observes the results and make conclusions - to stop the research being biased towards a certain result.

Some time back, in Britain if I'm not mistaken, when black people were still considered to be 'uncivilized', there was the question of whether the white people are really smarter than the blacks. Sorry guys I've forgotten most of the details such as when and where it was or who did the experiment, but in short it was like this. The theory was that the size of the brain decides the level of intelligence, thus the race who has bigger brains should be more intelligent. The decided method to test this was to choose several skulls of people of each race and stuff them with grain and then measure the volume of grain in each skull. This was performed on several randomly selected skulls (by a white man, obviously) and the results clearly showed that the white people had bigger skulls, thus bigger brains and higher intelligence. However, it was later revealed that the experimenter had - unintentionally - compressed and stuffed more grain into white people's skulls. In short, though the experiment was seemingly to find out who's more intelligent, it was in fact an experiment to prove that the white men were more intelligent. There lied the difference.

I find the situation somewhat similar here with the Centre for Monitoring Election Violence. It is quite possible that they didn't think it through a lot, but if this is their mindset then it is also possible that it may affect the observations they make. You never know.



  1. Hmmm, I think you have a point, but I guess it's an accepted fact that election rules are broken and these guys are attempting to 'monitor' the situation and also prevent it. See, the CMEV (or whatever their acronym) doesn't believe in just sitting on the sidelines watching election violence happening. They are more of an action group. For example during the last presidential election they had a poster campaign (and TV ads) with the slogan 'say NO to election violence'. So I think they shouldn't be considered as election monitors... :)

  2. Well, what name would you think is better?

  3. Ya, the name sure suggest what you point out but if what Chavie says is true then it's all cool, isn't it? But I'd rather wish they'd have a name like Centre for Preventing Election Violence and try to put an end to this eternal conflict once and for all. =D

  4. @Dee
    I believe so.

    Note this:
    Now I'm not being naive (read foolish also) to suggest that there is no election violence,

    There is violence related to elections, but this kind of attitude might result in observing/reporting incidents that aren't really qualify as election violence, for one. I was just pointing out a flaw in the concept.

    How about "Centre for Monitoring Elections". Besides it's not my job to suggest them names.

    It's possible, but not easy.

  5. Well what else to expect from NGOs?? By nature NGOs are biased towards Sri Lanka. So i guess there's nothing to do about it

  6. the phenomenon is known as "observer bias"

  7. i would worry much much more of having a d.i.g. for elections security saying in interviews that there are absolutely no reported incidents of election violence and that these are rumours spread by ppl with other AGENDAS (remember? like during the war, hu?) , when cmev reports i think over 350 incidents and increasing daily , with maps where they occured, names, dates, times... :-( it never changes does it? propaganda as always... agendas my arse..

  8. @Above Anon
    What you say about the DIG might be true (I don't know), but it relates to this how exactly?

    Just because one is doing wrong doesn't mean everyone else should. I was merely pointing out a flaw in this organization.