All posts by Noel Turnbull

Probability theory and the 2019 election

What do the latest Federal opinion polls mean? The superficial answer derived from political commentary is: almost anything – with the list of possibilities at least as long as the list of journalists reporting on politics.

A better approach is to use probability theory, which the blog has written about before, particularly in the light of Nate Silver’s work on probability – work derived from Bayesian theories and his long experience in sports and poker. read more

A dangerous decline

It is symptomatic of much that is disturbing and dangerous about Australian political discourse that Australia’s continuing decline in international public sector corruption rankings is given so little attention.

The latest Transparency International’s (TI) annual The Corruptions Perceptions Index (CPI) Index report has put Australia in 13th place – with Australia scoring 77 points down eight points since 2012. This decline has been going on for some years as we have fallen from the top 10 in the list. read more

Dodging the draft

Kim Jong-un has managed to achieve something that Presidents Johnson and Nixon couldn’t – get the draft dodging Donald Trump to Vietnam. Of course Trump didn’t stay long – soon leaving on a jet plane.

But it makes you wonder about Presidents and military service. JFK saw service and was hailed as a hero – partly because of ghost-writing paid for by his father, Joseph Kennedy, the old bootlegger, short seller and inside trader. General Ulysses S. Grant was a great General although the loss of life his troops sustained was horrific. Lincoln’s Presidential opponent, General George McLellan, might as well have been a conscientious objector given his reluctance to engage with, or even chase, the enemy. read more

Alarmed – with good reason

As Australia is heading for the mother of fear campaigns for the next election it is significant that in the USA – home of fear, loathing and negative campaigns – voters are becoming alarmed about the most fundamental threat (other than nuclear war precipitated by Trump sitting on the button) to the future of our world. read more

Catholic conspiracies and ‘intellectual poverty’

The blog and its PR company enjoyed some campaign successes over the years for governments, companies and organisations. But it must admit that the success of the Louise Adler media campaign in The Age, and the word of mouth Catholic conspiracy version of the controversy, is up with some of the most effective communication campaigns it has known – albeit with lots of help from the newspaper itself. read more

A climate of hope

Despite Donald Trump, Scott Morrison and others there is a significant change of opinion on climate change around much of the western world – particularly in the US of all places – for the better.

The evidence for this comes from a series of studies by Yale and George Mason universities’ climate change communications centres and other academics. A report based on findings from a nationally representative survey – Climate Change in the American Mind – conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication is a prime example of this. read more

MUP – dubious assumptions and poor public policy

What is about Louise Adler? The blog asked the question about Louise Adler, then the MUP Publisher, back in 2016.

Now she is the subject of controversy again with the usual suspects arguing for her brilliance as a publisher while doubting voices struggle to be heard. But beyond the noise there are some important issues about academic publishing and public policy which are being missed in the debate – if the controversy can be dignified with that word. read more

Inside the Canberra ‘bubble’

Conservatives dismiss anything they don’t think relevant – or is perhaps too relevant – as occurring in the ‘bubble’- whether that bubble is in London, Washington or Canberra.

But they do have a point. With a few notable exceptions most Gallery journalists have to thrive on the droppings of political staff briefings or pre-releases of speeches or announcements which they only get if they accept the angle on which the briefings are based. read more

The greatest PR successes in the past 500 years

What are the greatest PR successes of the past 500 years?

Now one might jibe at writing back into history the concept of PR but we now know through the work many modern historians (much of which has been described by the blog in books and articles) the extent to which opinion was shaped in countries around the world by techniques which we could identity as analogous to the practices of contemporary communicators. read more