"If something happens by coincidence
too many times, it isn't coincidental."
- Lucky Tan after reading Freakonomics
"Sunlight is the best disinfectant"
- Freakonomics on the topic of transparency.
Freakonomics is a book by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt and New York Times journalist Stephen J. Dubner published in 2005. It summarises interesting research done by Steven Levitt when he applied economic theory to diverse topics that ranged from collusion in Sumo Wrestling to impact of abortion on crime.
One thing I learned from the book is you can mine data and make reasonable conclusions. But in the Singapore context, one has to be doubly careful because Singapore is struck by strange coincidences that can make on jump into the wrong conclusions. Take news in Singapore as an example we had that torrent of wonderful heavenly news sometime in Feb-March '06, then all of a sudden, coincidentally after the elections, we had a string of sad sobbering price increases which culminated in the GST 7% announcement by PM Lee. Mr. Brown had made the wrong conclusion that the price increases were deliberately avoided during the period leading to the elections so that Singaporeans's brains would not be 'taxed' by it. He was promptly corrected by Ms Bhavini. Coincidentally, the govt had alot of money to give out to everyone as Progress Package and hundreds of millions in promises for upgrading a few months back now has so little money to help the poor, they have not choice but to increase GST.